I have been sitting on this for years, even as I attended event after event catering to people with celiac disease. The presumption was always that everyone attending had to avoid gluten, and only a select few also had allergies. Gluten intolerance helped the allergy movement, but it also harmed the livelihoods of people who just had food allergies and were gluten intolerant/sensitive, and especially for those who didn’t have a wheat allergy because much of the world still only sees “gluten” in relation to allergies.
There is no such fucking thing as a gluten allergy — there is only gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy. The three are not the same, nor do they go hand-in-hand.
At these events, I would be told that because I had certain allergies, I was most likely also gluten intolerant — lies, unsupported by science and targeting vulnerable communities of people who needed legitimate information instead of fear-mongering and prodding.
Food intolerances are NOT life-threatening.
At most, they’re uncomfortable as fuck and may keep you stationed at the toilet, seat vibrating as you pass gas between the courtesy flushes.
An intolerance happens when your body cannot digest certain foods. The immune system is not involved, therefore no allergic reaction may occur.
There is no risk of anaphylaxis.
Intolerances just make you feel awful and primarily involve the digestive system, but some people may be able to consume small amounts of the corresponding food.
Allergies ARE life-threatening.
Allergies can kill you.
Allergic reactions involve the immune system, which opens the door to anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening.
People with severe food allergies must avoid their trigger foods regardless of any medication or situation. Even minuscule, trace amounts of allergens can result in severe allergic reaction responses.
This is not a celiac disease comparison.
Celiac disease bears similarities with food allergies because it involves the immune system. However, people with celiac disease are not at risk for anaphylaxis just because of celiac disease.
It is not fatal, in that it will not progress and ultimately kill you. There are still risks, as well as other serious health conditions that celiac disease can cause.
I’m not expressing frustrations against celiac disease. Obviously, a disease is a disease. Allergies are chronic diseases. This is not a comparison of which disease is worse.
Food intolerances make you feel bad, primarily involving the digestive system.
Allergies may kill you, primarily involving the immune system.
Uncomfortable, toilet seat-vibrating shartulence verses an otherwise harmless substance that has the power to choke me to death even if I ingest a tiny amount.
I would not have such an issue with the uproar over demanding gluten-free restaurants and whatnot if food allergies were prioritized as well, instead of infantilized, ostracized and dismissed as “pickiness” or excuses.
How the fuck am I supposed to take seriously a society that gaslights people with life-threatening allergies, but hurries to accommodate gluten intolerance and sensitivity by rushing to create gluten-free food and ignoring food allergies by default?
Catering to allergies — especially food allergies — literally saves lives immediately. Catering to gluten intolerance/sensitivity just keeps people off the toilet.
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I absolutely love your allergy post, which has led me to check out the rest of your content. You are incredible! I am researching starting up and allergy movement and would love to have you on board! Sorry, this isn’t like a paid thing but I travel often and find it mind-boggling how uneducated the restaurant industry around the globe is on food allergies. If you ever want to connect, let me know!
Thanks for your comment and kind words! 🙂 It’s unfortunate that it’s still so frustrating how little people know about allergies and allergic reactions. I briefly worked in food service and they coached me on cross-contamination regarding food allergies based on a virtual pamphlet they received from corporate that was sooo wrong about a lot of things.
And then it also seems as though the gluten-free awareness movement dominates the allergy community without actually educating people about allergies, period. So it only encourages the stigma that allergies = picky eating…thus, restaurants tend to only include gluten-free symbols and no nut-free symbols.
I’d love to hear more about your movement!