More and more we are hearing about food allergies – allergies to wheat, gluten, eggs, dairy, soy, shellfish, corn, and nuts. We absolutely know that tree-nut allergies and peanut allergies can be life-threatening. Even the smell can sometimes cause symptoms in those with the most severe forms. We also know that Celiac disease is an allergy to gluten; and that although the person who suffers from this disease doesn’t have an anaphylactic episode like those that occur with nuts or shellfish, they do have internal injury to their small intestine from the gluten.
Then there’s everybody else, and possibly their brother. Do we truly have more allergies to foods today than say 20 years ago? Or do we have people who dislike foods or think it is the “in thing” to say they are allergic just to get their preferences? Today, these questions are on the minds of many people in the food industry. From dietitians to waiters to sous chefs, we need to know the truth.
Do you have a true allergy? Or do you just not like the way a particular item tastes? It is frustrating to all when someone makes a big deal about not finding an “an acceptable,” gluten-free food on the menu and then orders a beer and digs into the before dinner hors d’oeuvres and the dessert brownies ordered for the table. That behavior, my friends, means there’s probably no gluten issue. We have to be very careful especially with children since allowing them to claim they have an allergy when they don’t may limit the foods they are exposed to and may lead to a picky eater as an adult.
Claiming you have an allergy when you really don’t is a lot like the boy who cried wolf. Say it too many times and then continue to eat the foods you are “allergic” to and people stop believing you. Not only that, you affect their opinions about those who really do have food allergies and must carefully select their food.
Long story short, if you don’t care for something or you don’t tolerate it well, just tell the host, waiter, or teacher and pass when the offending item is offered, but don’t pretend you’re allergic to it. Honesty is always the best policy, and, “Sorry Gramma, I’m not allergic to lima beans; they just don’t taste good.”
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