I had a work thing today. A day of training. And as usual, I packed a lunch. I never expect to go out to eat, or to be invited anymore. There are no safe restaurants close enough to where I work to go out to eat.
But today they announced that they were having lunch brought in as a surprise. From a local restaurant. And they announced that there would be vegan and gluten free options. My friends looked at me like “Oh yeah! She can eat!” But I immediately start getting anxious. And goggling the restaurant. And not finding ANYTHING saying they offer gluten free options. Plus I would have to call and ask them how it was prepared. Yes. I’m that person. I have a lot of questions sometimes.
So the food comes and everyone can smell it and they set it all up. Buffet style. In my perfect little world in my head, where people understand gluten allergies and celiac disease, I’m thinking “maybe they set the gluten free stuff to the side.” When really what I’m saying to my friends is “if if twas gluten free, buffet style serving just made it no longer gluten free.”
They finally release our table to get food and I go up just to ask. It could happen, right? Some day, I will be able to eat at a work function. This was the conversation:
Me: You said there were gluten free options?
Her: Well…they said none of the pasta is gluten free. But the salad obviously is.
Me: (Looking at the salad covered in croutons and pepperoni) Mm-hmm
Her: And there are veggies and potatoes of course
Me: (Checking out the items and noticing they are covered in some un-identifiable seasoning)
Her: And they said the chicken is very low gluten
Me: (WHAT!!????) Well, I’m HIGHLY allergic, so I’ll just eat what I brought. Thanks!
Seriously. Gluten free is not like fat free. There’s no such thing as low gluten. Especially when it’s fried, breaded chicken. There’s nothing low gluten about it!
I promise I was nice to the lady. I really wanted to educate her, but I refrained this time. I had to eat what I brought and pump so I could be back in time for the next topic we were learning. She didn’t work for the restaurant. No one else was asking for gluten free options. I went back to my friends and let them know about the conversation. They are used to me talking gluten free, so they all get it.
Some day, people will understand that a speck of gluten could hurt someone who’s allergic or someone who has celiac. It will not send me into anaphylactic shock, like peanuts do to some people, but it will make me very sick. And for a celiac, it could do a lot of damage to their insides that would take weeks to clear out!
Until that time, I’ll continue to carry chicken in my purse. And maybe soon in a fanny pack 🙂 (That one’s for you Mel!)