Skip to main content

People Tolerance



When people hear about my food allergies and severe gluten intolerance I often get looked at like I'm some kind of alien. It often provokes questions about my lifestyle and I'm happy to oblige in their education on the seriousness of these issues. Sometimes it leads them to say, "Wow I had no idea. I admire you for having to deal with all that." Other times it has the opposite effect. "So you SERIOUSLY can't even touch it? I think you're overreacting." "No wonder you're so thin, you can't eat anything." "Oh I try to avoid gluten too, but it doesn't really bother me. I mean it doesn't really hurt you."

As an adult I can be confident in knowing my condition is real no matter what anyone else thinks. (I also have an amazing fiancee who will vouch for that from personal expereince.) I'm very much ok with bringing my own food places, having to carefully select a restaurant when dining out, and not eating if I don't think my food is safe. It's become a part of my everyday life and my normal. As a child however, I can remember this being a pretty tough thing to deal with. Let me take you back to my 4th grade self.

I was so excited that I had successfully completed the poetry challenge in my class. I dutifully memorized a new poem every month to earn a bright, shiny gold star on the classroom chart. The prize was a special lunch celebration at the local pizzeria. It was now June and myself along with my other successful classmates were headed to our special lunch celebration. My mom had prepared me with what to tell the waiter and I had had plenty of experience communicating my dietary needs since I had been doing this for about 2 years at the time. My teacher made sure to tell the waiter that I had food allergies and to speak to me directly about what I could eat. "I'll have to garden salad with no tomatoes or croutons with tuna and just oil and vinegar on the side." I was met with the look that says, "Umm I don't speak Chinese and I have no idea what you said." So I gently repeated my order again except this time the waiter questioned me saying "Do you want the tuna or the salad?" I very timidly explained that I just wanted a salad with tuna in the salad but the waiter only grew angrier at my request. Now a knot was building in my stomach, my teacher looked very frazzled and it felt like the whole room was staring at me. I think I settled on just some lettuce after being so stressed out about my food order. I was feeling embarrassed, different, and totally overwhelmed. I no longer wanted recognition for memorizing my poem, I just wanted to be home.

Children are easily impressionable and are very receptive to the feedback they receive. When those with food allergies and other special dietary needs are made fun of, harassed, or made the but of a joke they are being told that their situation is not serious and they should be embarrassed about it. This can lead to self-confidence issues, feelings of depression, anger, and loneliness. As someone who experienced this first hand, I can say its all true. There are still days when I struggle with the way I have to eat and feel the need to apologize for my dietary needs. This is why when I saw the NASCAR AD calling those who need to be gluten free "soft" I became infuriated. I wondered how many young, impressionable children who have celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance would see this ad and think to themselves that they were less of a person because of how they had to eat. I was happy to see that Gluten Dude's petition got such an overwhelming response and made NBC change the ad to remove the gluten line. But here's my question, why was it even there in the first place?

As a nation, we need to take charge of what we define "funny" to be and set the example for our young children. Would you rather raise a child who loves themself and is confident in who they are or a child who is so fraught with anxiety and worry that they feel deflated? I know for myself I want to raise my kids to be confident, caring, and kind. I don't want them to feel bad about their food choices if they have a condition that requires them to eat "differently." I don't want them to have anxiety about going out to eat or worrying what people will think of them. I want my child to grow up in a tolerant, accepting world. How about you?

This week I challenge you to do 1 thing to help this cause. Maybe you tell your student that they are truly amazing at math. Maybe you choose not to participate in the office gossip. Maybe you stop apologizing for being your best self. Whatever you decide know that every little effort helps. Let's band together and create a world where different is normal.

Connect with me on social media and let me know action you are taking this week to change the world:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram


Comments

  1. Oh it drives me nuts when people say "No wonder you're so thin, you can't eat anything." I get that one all the time too, and it's so uncomfortable. I feel like I not only have to apologize for the way I eat but also my body. It invalidates every other good thing I do to take care of my health and my body, and implies that I shouldn't be proud of my body, just because someone else isn't proud of theirs. I work hard to take care of myself in lots of ways and if it shows I'm going to be proud of it, goshdarnit! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Cassidy I often feel the same way. I'm learning to take people's comments with a grain of salt. When I start to feel ashamed or upset I remind myself that it's their own insecurities being projected onto me and that me and my docs have everything under control. And I agree, celebrate how proud you are of your hard work. :)

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

New Beginnings and Gluten Free/Body Ecology Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Can you believe it's September? I personally love the summer, its a great time to hit the reset button. September to me represents new beginnings and chances to start over. I'm excited for what's ahead this coming dance season; I'm ready to take the bull by the horns and have one of my most successful years creatively and career-wise. Something about the September air truly inspires my inner dreamer and I'm encouraged to believe anything is possible. It's so exciting!

To continue my journey on the year of my best self, I'm beginning to delve into mind-body connection and it's relationship to health. I've started reading Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin, MD. I'm about a third of the way into the book and I feel like I'm learning so much already. Constant stress, overexertion, self doubt, and negative thoughts set off flight or fight responses in your body which in turn causes your body to be in a…

A Week of Nourishing Gratitude

As I get older, I notice that there are many holiday traditions that I want to start sharing with my finance Anthony. After over a month of a crazy 7-day work schedule Thanksgiving week I had off Wednesday-Sunday; I haven't had a full day off in over a month and I was determined to make it fun week full of great food, the company of those I love and starting new traditions.

Now as with all holiday weeks you probably think of over indulging in comfort food that's terrible for you. Being I had a very severe wheat exposure attack recently, I knew I wanted to stay strict on Body Ecology but still enjoy myself to the fullest. I made it a point to get in the kitchen this week and make some amazing meals that not only tasted great, but are actually good for you. Here are some of my favorite meals from this week:




What on Earth is there for you to eat? A Recipe Roundup

As I mentioned in my last post, I've recently discovered I have more food allergies. So now in addition to being gluten free and dairy free, I am also egg free, fennel free, and coconut free (however coconut oil tested fine with no reaction whatsoever). I also had a reaction to powdered stevia; the liquid one was fine and I will be reworking all my baked goods recipes using just liquid stevia (a future blog post). The reaction I get when friends and family find out is, "What do you eat? It must be so terrible!" If I were in their shoes and had no personal experience with food allergies and sensitivities I might have the same reaction. However, I actually feel calmer and less stressed. Honestly there's so much good food I can eat safely.  I feel so relieved to know what has been making me feel sick and covered in itchy eczema lately. It's no fun dealing with digestive system issues, headaches, and feeling self conscious about your skin.

So what exactly do I eat? L…