This week is FAAW ’12, Food Allergy Awareness Week, 2012. I was going to talk about something totally different, but after a conversation at the dentist office this week, I thought I’d share the answer to a very frequently asked question instead.
The other day I had a dentist appointment. All should be pretty simple, right? Well, it was just a kind of crazy day and totally forgot to brush my teeth before going. Oooops!! I get there and they were about to give me a toothbrush and toothpaste but then the assistant said she’d just give me some mouthwash and it’d be fine.
“Wait, can I read the ingredient label?” I asked her before she poured it into the cup.
“WHY?” She responded, rather surprised and almost offended.
“I have food allergies” I explained.
“Well there are no nuts in here.” she told me as she handed me the bottle.
I read it quickly (wondering why they put so many strange ingredients in it) and okayed it, handing it back to her.
“What are you allergic to?” The assistant asked me, more curious now, as she handed me a cup of mouthwash.
“Dairy, peanuts, bananas, strawberries, a few other things and I have celiac disease.” I told her.
“Wow… what DO you eat?” She asked.
“Everything else!” I replied cheerfully.
“But there’s not much left!” She countered.
“Oh yes there is! I can have veggies, meat, most fruits, and I can bake a lot of other stuff. There’s plenty I can eat!”
“But that’s still not much!” she countered again.
We discussed the growing abundance of gluten free foods in stores now days and how I love baking pretty much anything. And then I also said that next time I’m around, I’ll give them all some of my foods so they can taste and see that I DO have plenty I can eat.
But, it’s not the first time this kind of a dialogue has happened. It’s happened countless times. Friends at church, random strangers I meet, relatives, and well, pretty much anyone who doesn’t have food allergies themselves or know someone close to them who does. Last fall I got to go to Europe and visit family, and my grandmother was really worried at first what I could eat. But by the end of the 10 days there, SHE was the one telling others that, yes, I have food allergies and have to follow a “special diet”, but that I actually CAN eat a LOT of things! Fish, veggies, meat, potatoes, and for the things that I couldn’t have, there were pretty often substitutes available. I baked gluten free bread there. I also made crepes, pancakes (hehe, yes, I made a totally American food in France!), found soy yogurt in the main (GIANT) supermarket along with dairy-free margarine, my favorite baguettes from Schar, chocolate, cake and so, so much more.
While I couldn’t have the yummy looking dish she made with cheese nor her awesome soup (cross contaminated), I could still make my own versions that were pretty good.
So, for everyone who wonders, what CAN I eat, here’s a bunch of the stuff I can have… I do not apologize if I make your mouth water 😉