I read a meme the other day by a celiac making reference to “Torture Tuesday,” as in the day that donuts are delivered to their office every week. The reference highlighted the exclusion they felt because there were no gluten free options provided.
These experiences create a mix of emotions including a little anger, disgust and often defeat. In an age where playground park benches are created for the kid that feels left out, I often feel like I’m sitting alone on wet paint, invisible to those playing around me.
Countless birthdays with no cake or cupcakes. Lunches with endless salads, if anything at all. Cookies, muffins and other assorted treats made with dough. It’s amazing to me the lack of inclusion that is societally acceptable.
Don’t get me wrong, I love gluten eaters, I’m even married to one but I assure you that he would not choose to dine where I can’t eat (even if he did consume the entire bread basket in front of me) and we have walked out of more than a dozen places that told me I could “just eat a salad”.
It’s astounding when I chat with people who find it acceptable to order a family style meal for meeting that is gluten based, even though someone in the room can’t eat it. However, the tables turned significantly when asked if they would do the same to their boss.
A friend of mine works for a gentleman that is Jewish and requires meals to be Kosher. This tends to limit options for selections as well, but I assure you that she has never ordered a meal that wasn’t Kosher and chimed, “they didn’t have anything for you, sorry.”
Most people who are on a special diet don’t want to be bothersome but what if it was a client? Would you risk making them feel excluded? Knowing about an allergy and ignoring it is rude and disrespectful and can speak volumes.
I lost the desire to avoid being bothersome years ago. I have been on this diet for seventeen years and I have the right to eat too. I have days that I don’t care, like the day after being contaminated… seriously, don’t even show me a donut. However, in most cases I love to be included! Who doesn’t?
Granted, gluten free meals aren’t available everywhere and it might take some research, fine tuning and (lord forbid) asking the affected persons for input on delightful dining choices but rather than thinking, “wow, this is a pain” or “we just won’t have as many choices, it won’t matter if they eat salad… again” maybe ask yourself, if I had to eat this (again), would I enjoy it? And STOP yourself before uttering the words “I think” this is gluten free or “it should be” gluten free. If you can’t double check, don’t bother guessing.