"Let's all go out and get pizza next weekend!" they said. I squirmed in my seat because I knew I had to say it. I had just met these people and they didn't know. "Uh..." It never stops being awkward. "I actually have a lot of food allergies...I'm allergic to gluten and dairy. Oh, I also am vegetarian and egg-free, as well." It's not something to feel awkward about...but it just does. "Oh, so what do you eat?" Sigh.
Having food allergies is not for the faint of heart. Eating, cooking-- it's an art. To gather around the table brings people together. And nothing disappoints like being excluded from the table.
I eat healthy not because I want to, but because I have to.
I can't get pizza with you on a Friday night. I can't enjoy when a co-worker surprises everyone with donuts. I can't get ice cream on a hot summer night.
And usually, I don't even notice that I can't eat like everyone else-- because I've been doing it for five years now. I usually don't notice that I have a different menu than you or different bread. I always say that if I was going to have a disease, having a disease that can be cured by eating gluten-free ain't too bad.
Usually, I try not to bring up my food allergies. It feels awkward and uncomfortable and snobby to request a gluten-free menu.
But somtimes it sucks.
So this one is for the ones asking the waitress for a gluten-free menu. This is for the ones that carry Lactaid around in their purse. This is for the ones who read the labels. This is for the ones who are constantly Googling, "Does ______ have ______ in it?"
This is for the people whose stomach sinks in horror when they realize they just ate something that has their type of poison in it. This is for the people who carry Benadryl in their purse in case they discover a new allergy (like the time I discovered I was allergic to soy milk in the middle of a Target).
This is for the people searching the restaurant's menu before you meet your friends so you know there is something you can definitely eat there. This is for the people who have to explain what gluten is to your waitress. This is for the people who have to explain why their pizza is just tomato sauce on a crust. This is for the people who feel most at home at Whole Foods because they actually have things you can eat.
Life ain't easy when you've got food allergies-- so this one is for you guys. Cheers (with gluten-free beer, of course...) (;