When Your Allergy Goes Out of Fashion…

1 04 2011

This is another old blog I posted elsewhere at the start of the year. Yesterday there was a piece in The Guardian Comment is Free Section “Caring for a Coeliac Just Got Tougher” which reminded me of this post.

When your allergy goes out of fashion?

Posted on January 5, 2011

Before I start I would like to highlight this isn?t a competition or dig at anyone in particular, just a rant about something that pisses me off no end.

I am a member of a very allergic family. It?s not much fun. I?m allergic to loads of stuff and loads of foodstuffs. People generally think you?re making it up when you say ?I can?t have *insert foodstuff here* because I?m allergic.?

30something years of this and I?m quite adept at avoiding things, providing no one invites me for dinner (a bonus being rather antisocial).

I started off dairy free when I was 7 years old and it was a transformation. It was the early 80?s and bloody hard finding anything that didn?t include some form of milk.

The only good thing Thatcher did for me, was stop free milk in schools. I was often sat for hours at a time by a teacher convinced milk was good for my bones and that my mother was neurotic by suggesting I don?t get given it. While all the other children would get out to play, I?d be sat in class with warm full fat milk, boaking at the thought of having to finish it.

In the 90s there was far more awareness and I went dairy free again. It was fantastic. Loads of places catered for dairy free by now or at least labelled their food and menus appropriately.

By 2000 onwards, it was falling out of fashion. Now it was trendy to have a gluten intolerance. There are even suggestions that 15-20% of the population have one.

My daughter was born in September 09. I knew almost instantaneously she had problems with dairy but no one would listen until she got very very ill and was rushed to hospital.

She has thrived on a dairy free diet but here comes the ranty part? Noone caters for dairy free anymore.

I mean supermarkets are uber-paranoid and label anything that?s been waved at a cow, through three windows, a pressure tank, a time-machine and zapped by the death star as quite possibly, maybe, potentially, probably having been sniffed by a person who drank milk once in their existence, on the production line.

But back in non-litigation land, all is not well. If we go out for a cuppa tea and a cake, she can?t have anything. Even the ever faithful, cake formerly known as the dairy free chocolate brownie has been raped by milk in recent years.

Yesterday my irritation peaked. I was in Peckhams looking for some nice cakes to take first footing to her granny. I asked ?are any cakes dairy free?? and was told no but ?we have lots of gluten free.?

My response?

?How nice?But we don?t need gluten free.?

I think there was a fucking in there actually.

How idiotic are these people? Did I fucking ask for gluten free? NO! I asked for dairy free but time and time again I get the response, ?we don?t do dairy free but we do gluten free?

What do you want? A fucking medal? A handshake and congratulations? A post in The Herald and Scotsman?

I don?t need gluten free. Gluten doesn?t make my daughter shit oily substances in agony, turn her skin raw and generally make her very unwell and upset.

I appreciate those with gluten intolerance and coeliacs have horrific reactions to gluten in products and I know that like dairy it?s hidden in a multitude of products but do catering businesses really believe that dairy allergies or intolerances just ended and everyone became gluten intolerant instead?

Interestingly statistics suggest that coeliac, an autoimmune condition is suffered by 1% of the population. 2-3% of children have a dairy allergy. Many more, approximately 20% have an intolerance to cows milk protein such as lactose.

My daughter has both the intolerance causing horrific sickness, diarrhoea and weight loss and an allergy causing eczema.

I don?t expect restaurants to list every ingredient or to even cater for every potential allergy or intolerance on the planet but I do expect people employed to sell or deliver this stuff to us to know that if I?m asking for dairy free I don?t want to know about their numerous gluten free products.

It?s like asking about buying a land rover and being shown a collection of Mini?s instead. Both perfectly acceptable products but if I want a LandRover I want a LandRover. If I want a Mini I?ll ask for a fucking Mini.

Do shop assistants, waitresses and chefs not stop to consider that perhaps I don?t want fucking gluten free cake filled with milk products when I specifically asked about dairy free?

Ok rant over.

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