Continuing my little brain rant on food and dietary restrictions, I’m finding the question, “is that for a gluten allergy?” a bit….off putting. And in some ways a bit annoying.
This isn’t to say that it’s not an important question for food-service workers to ask of their customers, but perhaps my annoyance at the question is more revealing of my own assumptions of who asks for gluten-free menus, and requests “bunless” options at places like Shake Shack.
i.e. people who ask for such specialized requests do so out of legitimate health reasons like not balling into a fetal position from massive pain and discomfort. Or not dying.Whenever I’m asked, “is this for a gluten allergy?” after placing a food order, I can’t help but feel this tinge of embarrassment and, possibly, shame about my food intolerance. And it’s not because I feel bad about the fact that gluten-containing foods makes me feel sick. It’s the immediate pop-cultural associations that come to my mind—of celebrities and regular people who have turned it into some tiring, annoying fad food choice.
I have not had the pleasure of encountering an annoyed wait staff at a restaurant when requesting gluten-free menus or leaving some wheat/rye/barley-based item off the dish. This may be because M and I have this rule when we go out that I always choose the food venue. This way, we’re less likely that we go to a place that doesn’t serve gluten-free fare. (So far, this has worked remarkably well.)
And even if gluten-free options are (becoming) the norm, I can’t help but wonder if it’s some weird thorn in every food business’ side (at least the ones that aren’t primarily GF), to have to cater to “us” special-food people.
I also find that asking if something is for a gluten allergy simplifies the complexity of the celiac/non-celiac issue, and my own nitpicky semantics of something that’s an allergy versus an intolerance.
I don’t have celiacs disease. And I don’t have a gluten allergy, meaning, when I (accidentally) ingest gluten-containing foods, I don’t flare up in hives or endure other allergy-related reactions. I have an intolerance. I get bloated, my joints hurt, I get gassy, and sometimes nauseous. Just all around sick.
So while I don’t need my food to be placed in its own cardboard box, on a separate food tray, I find that I can’t just say “no, it’s not for a gluten allergy.” Or can I?
Because if I say “no,” I’ll be misconstrued for one of those people who are gluten-free for trend reasons and not health reasons. But if I say yes, all this trouble is undergone to separate my food, which, I noticed, creates a lot more waste.
The conundrums. What are your thoughts on this gluten free “allergy” question? What reactions do you get when you request GF menus or GF alterations to your food at restaurants?
Random question: why is it that “gluten free” is almost always associated with baked goods, too? Case in point: a Flickr image search
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