Education is Key

There are so many diets out there, that when I mention that I adhere to a strict Dairy and Gluten Free diet, I know I get weird looks, and often hear “You are one of those people”. There is a stigma associated with any diet where you take a food group or more out of your diet. Most of the reactions I get are from people who don’t understand it, and are uneducated about it, and believe that I am some hippy who needs my head examined. For some their diets are by choice, for moral, ethical, or other reasons. For others like myself it is because our bodies can’t process and break down certain kinds of foods.

For those who have chosen to adhere to Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo, Soy Free, Egg Free, Vegetarianism, Veganism, unprocessed foods, or another kind of diet, I am not one to judge or act like they are weird. That is their decision, and good for them for sticking with something, that is healthier.

For those of us with food intolerances and food allergies it is a whole different story. I know from experience that there is a lot of resistance (in my adhering to the diet and to education on their part) as well as a lot of misinformation, indifference, and lack of care to how food affects my body. While I don’t really care what those I know casually think about it, what bugs me the most is the lack of wanting to learn and understand what the impact of it has on me, from my own family that I live with is like. I have had to fight tooth and nail for almost 3 years, and I still get sick from their indifference.

As a whole, society still sees Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Soy intolerances as something that is not its problem, when in reality is an ever growing problem within the framework of society. My society as a whole revolves around food, and the social roles of food. I know I feel ostracized quite often for something I can’t help, and did not ask for or choose to take on. Even though the US is one of the better one for leading the way in having better tasting and a better variety of Gluten Free and Dairy Free food, it is still a challenge and struggle to find food that I can eat.

I know for myself personally, I began taking a second look at the food I was eating, during the Nutrition class I took while in college. Developing intolerances to Gluten and Dairy has since added to how closely I look at the food that I eat, and consume. In the past three years I have really started avoiding processed foods, and eating natural, organic and non GMO foods as much as possible.

I know a lot of people who don’t give food intolerances a second thought because they don’t have to deal with it 3+ times a day. That much I can understand, as I was the same way until 3 years ago. At the same time, There are those who feel that because those of us who have food intolerances or adhere to certain diets are different and “weird” we just need to shove it, even to our own expense, and to the extent of at best having an upset stomach, and spending more time than necessary in the bathroom to being sent to the hospital with a life threatening condition.

I am not saying the our society needs to jump on the band wagon of adhering to a specific diet themselves, all I am saying is that it is time that society changes to be more tolerant and understanding of those who either need to adhere to one of these “specialty diets” or chooses to for personal reasons. Why should we suffer, and be sick because others choose to be ignorant and uneducated on a growing concern. I know there are those with food intolerances who don’t like to talk about it, but if it isn’t talked about, then how is it going to get out there, and how are others going to be educated? even if you don’t have to directly deal with food intolerances, you most likely know someone who does. There is still a lot of awareness to be made and had.

I have also heard the “you can’t eat (Fill in item here), I would die if I couldn’t have (aforementioned item here)”. My general response is “Not having (Item) doesn’t really bother me anymore”, when in my head the thoughts I have are along the lines of “You learn to live without it or be sick all the time, and yes even now and again I would kill for a grilled cheese sandwich with Tillamook Cheese, sourdough bread, and butter on the outside, and real ice creme and Oreo’s for dessert, but I would rather go without that, than be in the bathroom, being sick for the next two weeks.”

I am choosing to keep this blog to help those who have food intolerances and are new to having them, as well as their families, friends, roommates, and are trying to figure out what is safe and what is not. It is also for myself so that I can share my journey, and what I have learned from having normal every day food make me sick to learning how to deal with it, and what I have found that works.

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