Thursday, March 08, 2012

Gluten Free what?

Living and breathing a gluten free life for nearly 4 years, I sometimes forget that not everyone is familiar with this lifestyle.

During my early days of diagnosis I explored many supermarkets and health food stores for GF food, as well as restaurants for GF dining options. With much frustration I discovered it wasn’t as easy as I thought. Many people had no idea what ‘gluten free’ was! Admittedly neither did I until I was given the news that would change my life forever!

On one occasion, on my way to a friend’s house, I stopped off at a local supermarket to grab some GF sweets to take with me. Thinking it would be quicker, I asked one of the sales attendants where I could find the gluten free section. The young man looked at me as if I had two heads and asked me “Gluten free? Is that stationary?” I held in my laugh and told him that it was food without wheat. He gave me a bit of a nervous chuckle and said that he would have to check with his manager. That was by far the funniest response I have ever had. It made me think that not enough people know what gluten free or coeliac disease really is!

Another time I was dining in a Japanese restaurant. Thinking I couldn’t possible eat sushi without soy sauce, I decided to ask if they had GF sauce. I got a blank look. I repeated it again and decided to start explaining that I couldn’t eat wheat products, such as flour. This didn’t help, so I gave up and decided to eat my sushi with no sauce.

Having ordered a green tea and slowly sipping it until my meal arrived, the waitress I was having the discussion with came running over… “I don’t think you should drink that”. She actually tried to pull my cup away from me! “The tea is made from a plant. You’re allergic to plants!”

I was extremely confused by this statement but managed to tell her that I would be fine. I wasn’t allergic to plants. It was only after that I realized she thought I was allergic to “flowers” (flour). Hence the plant statement!

This also reminds me of a trip to Thailand, where I was told the flower was on the side so I could pick it out. It was a flower cut out of vegetables!!! Oh my!

In the short time I have been coeliac I have seen such a dramatic growth in the awareness of coeliac disease and gluten free food. From products available in supermarkets to restaurants and cafe’s.

A lot of this awareness has stemmed from the Coeliac Society and Coeliac Awareness Week, which is coming up on the 13 – 20 March 2012. This year’s slogan “Is gluten slowing you down?” is aimed at educating the population about coeliac disease and it’s effects.

So help us spread the word. Share this post with all your family and friends to help us make as many people aware of coeliac disease as we can. Because we are hoping for a future where gluten free is not thought to be stationary!

Do you have any funny stories about ‘gluten free’ misunderstandings? We would love to hear them!

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