So I was on Twitter (as I generally am these days), and I saw an article from @thesohospeaks which was retweeted by someone I follow.
Here's the article.
Before I go any further, I just want to say that I agree very much with the spirit of this article. When you eat properly and you eat well, it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Food is meant to be enjoyed, and even though my son and I have multiple food intolerances, we still enjoy food very much.
However, I had to take issue with the following portion:
“Before I serve up my opinions on food, allow me a caveat. This blog is all about healthy women, healthy body image, healthy confidence and healthy sexuality. Eating is part of this. Do I judge habitual overeating? Yes, but not nearly as much as a pervasive culture of under-eating, food guilt, fictional allergies and intolerances, calorie counting and diet-of-the-moment mentionitis.”
You can guess what part I took issue with.
I don’t like the way that “fictional” allergies and intolerances are mentioned in the same breath as calorie counting. It trivializes people with ACTUAL allergies and intolerances – people like me and my son, and probably most of you who read this blog.
OK, now before I get into what I think the real problem is, I totally understand what she was trying to do here. She’s saying, “Hey, I know some people have actual allergies and intolerances – I’m just talking about those annoying people who lie about it!”
But see, that’s a problem, and here’s why – you’re introducing the possibility that some people ARE lying about it.
Food allergies and intolerances are very tricky medically speaking. You may have a very bad reaction to a food and NEVER test allergic to it. Technically speaking you are NOT allergic. But it’s a little easier to say “I’m allergic” than to say, “Well, see, if I eat that, I won’t die, but I’ll pretty much wish I was dead by the reaction I’ll have.”
So. What’s the solution to these dietary poseurs who are allegedly out there? Instead of putting the idea into people’s head that people who claim allergies and intolerances are drama queens, we should just, I don’t know, take it REALLY SERIOUSLY.
See, if people truly understood allergies and intolerances, they would understand that it’s nothing to joke about. For someone who is truly allergic to a common ingredient, the chances are you’re not going to find them in ANY restaurant. Risking death is kind of not fun.
So in fact you have a HUGE gray area of people who have some degree of allergy or intolerance – not life threatening, perhaps, but not minor enough to be cavalier about it.
Yes, I get it that some people are really annoying and claim that eating red meat will mess up their chi or something. But the VAST MAJORITY of people are not lying. And lumping them together like this makes people with allergies and intolerances look like whiny overprivileged snobs – when all they’re trying to do is have a meal out like a normal person that doesn’t end with endless trips to the restroom.
I guarantee you if you are a person who has intolerances and/or allergies, you will have to ask a lot of questions that will seem incredibly annoying and prima donna-ish to the average person. If you’re allergic to shellfish, for example, you may need to ask if a steak is grilled on the same grill the shrimp is grilled on. This is not a prima donna question. It is NECESSARY to prevent a possibly life-threatening situation. And you can bet it’s probably a special occasion and that this person doesn’t venture out all too often, so they’d rather not end up in the emergency room at the end of the night.
So let’s stop mentioning “fictional” in the same breath as allergies and intolerances. Yes, maybe some people DO lie.
But I don’t think it’s the kind of judgment you’d want to bet someone’s life on.