With a title like that, the first thought might be dieting and weight loss. I’ve certainly felt like that many, many, oh so very many times in my life. But this is worse than that.
Let’s talk about food allergies.
Food allergies are exhausting.
Have you ever gone to a scrumptious buffet, and left hungry, not because of any will power or intentional self sacrifice, but because there was nothing you could safely eat?
How long does it take you to figure out a restaurant to stop at after a busy day?
Once upon a time, when I was young and callous, I knew a woman who ‘claimed’ to have food allergies, and she was allergic to a great many basic staples. And I thought she was making it up. Or at least fussing over No Big Deal. We took to calling her “one of those people who doesn’t eat food.”
And now, of course, I am one of those people, and I want to go back and give my young self a talking too. She didn’t mean to be unkind, exactly, but it was so far outside her experience that it didn’t seem real.
Perhaps you are one of those people. If you are, please give me a minute to explain.
Have you ever traveled to a place where it wasn’t safe to drink the water? And you not only had to find bottled water everywhere, you had to remember to always have a bottle in your hotel room so you could brush your teeth? And you had to remember to only eat vegetables that had a peel, because greens and things like that are washed in the local unsafe water?
It’s a little like that.
Any time you eat out, especially at a new place, it’s like spinning a roulette wheel. Especially when your allergy is something ubiquitous like gluten, or something deadly, like shellfish or peanuts. You can order carefully. You can tell the server to ask the kitchen. You can hope that the server will actually ask, and the kitchen will both know and answer honestly. And it’s still giving the wheel a big old spin.
The more allergies you have, the likelier you are to have a problem with something.
I have a lot. My options are limited. I have a very short list of local restaurants that I’ve vetted, taking the risk of feeling awful for a full week to see if it’s safe. My poor husband supports me in my quest for safe food, but I know he loves business trips where he can just go eat without having to study the menu, call the manager, and pray.
I usually just eat at home from my short list of reliable, sensible food. Which means an awful lot of cooking from scratch. No convenience foods.
I’m a better than average cook, but there are so many times when I really, really can’t face my own cooking, but there aren’t really any better options either.
I suppose this can be classed as a first world problem. Much like dieting, it’s about being faced with food you can’t eat, instead of the much harsher problem of there being actually no food. I’m not confused about that.
But since we (I at least) live in first world environments with computers and internet and ridiculous amounts of food, it’s a very real problem.
It makes me tired.