Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

Are you intolerant, on a diet or just fussy?


Are you on a diet, fussy or are you celiac (gluten intolerant – also spelt coeliac)? I just read an article in a popular magazine. The article was entitled “Society Food Fight, Are you intolerant or just plain fussy?”

Nowadays it is “cool” to eat a wheat free diet. People use sensitivity to wheat or celiac disease as an excuse to diet. Restaurants are frustrated, chefs angry. Should they be? I don’t think so.

Whether you are a diagnosed celiac or just happen to be cutting carbs out of your diet, restaurants, cafes, airlines, whomever is serving food should cater to your needs. You are the customer!

I am a celiac (diagnosed by a doctor). I don’t tend to make a big deal out of it. I used to be the kind of person that preferred not to tell people. I would just say, “I don’t eat bread” or whatever it was I was being offered. I would be invited to a dinner party and take the attitude that surely there would be something I can eat instead of just telling the host in advance that I am celiac.

Nowadays, I make it known. I question everything when ordering in a restaurant. If I do accidentally eat something with gluten (it would have to be an accident because I adhere to my diet religiously) I burp loudly, have terrible stomach pains and horrible bouts of diarrhea. It is not worth it to make a mistake. It makes me so sick that Al (my partner) is just as adamant about my diet as I am.

I don’t often run into people who don’t take me seriously, but there have been a few occasions where the waitperson is fighting the opportunity to “roll their eyes” in disgust as they answer my questions. One of my worst experiences in public was flying business class with Air Canada. I had pre-ordered a gluten free meal. I was served pasta! After explaining to the flight attendant  why I would not be able to eat the meal, he informed me that it was all they had, but he would see what he could do. I was eventually served greens that had been scraped out of sandwiches (resplendent with butter scrapped off the bread). I was left embarrassed and hungry…in business class.  Thanks Air Canada!

It doesn’t matter that I truly couldn’t eat the food and was not “just on a diet” or fussy, it is important for society to get back to serving their customers. It is (in my view) a lost art.

4 responses to “Are you intolerant, on a diet or just fussy?

  1. Kathy July 11, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    I am also a diagnosed Coeliac and I agree with you up to a point, but I do think that the number of people cutting out carbs or gluten for diet reasons can hurt the cause of people like us in some ways. Absolutely it is not the waitperson’s business to be eye-rolling and it is the customer’s choice what they consume, but let’s be fair here, a person simply cutting down on carbs isn’t going to have their health (or even their diet) impaired by a few crumbs from a bread roll landing on their plate. I, on the other hand, can look forward to weeks of unpleasant sequelae if I get cross-contaminated. So I *need* them to take it seriously and not assume I’m “just being fussy”.

  2. Holly J July 12, 2009 at 3:02 am

    I’m allergic to wheat and have a intolerance to sugar. I was diagnosed with this when I was 14. For years I would not listen to my doctors and continued to eat cereal and candy, only to be bloated, tired and experience INTENSE food cravings. When I got older and became sick of living that way, I finally adopted a life free of the foods my body is allergic too. I got a lot of crap from people, especially as I began to loose weight. In the end, I choose not to listen to those people. They do not know what its like to have your body feel like crap or to have to fight against candida outbreaks. There should be more wheat free gluten free places to eat. If someone accuses me of being fussy, I just tell them to mind their own business!

  3. Aunt Jayne July 12, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I, too, was diagnosed with Celiac. I have rarely run into people who roll their eyes or assume I am on a fad diet or whatever but I did have one “memorable” experience.
    I was in a high end (and very expensive) restaurant that advertises that they cater to people with food allergies.
    I made it very clear that I have Celiac Disease and that none of my food could come into contact with anything containing gluten. I was assured that my meal would be “safe”.
    The dinner itself was fine but when the dessert came (I ordered plain vanilla ice cream) it had a wafer in it!
    I told the waitress that I would be unable to eat it and she told me she would bring another.
    The ice cream arrived sans wafer and I began to eat it.
    About halfway through, I came across a tiny piece of wafer. They hadn’t made me a new dish – they had remove the wafer!
    Some people just don’t get it, even if they say they do.
    My point is, that if someone is rolling their eyes, at least you know what they are thinking. 🙂

  4. Rob July 13, 2009 at 12:17 am

    I was actually diagnosed with Crohn’s when I was 17. Believe it or not, I find a lot of similarities from Crohn’s to Celiac. In fact, I was originally mis-diagnosed with Celiac.

    But whatever the case, it’s all about finding what you can and can’t eat. Unfortunately, it’s all trial and error. So yeah, some of it is cool, but so much of it is real.

    My personal favorite safety food, for those actually interested, is DePuma’s Gluten Free Pasta.

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