The news today is reporting that “bogus allergy tests are convincing thousands of people to take unnecessary treatments and put themselves or their children on inadequate diets, sometimes resulting in malnutrition”. (Full story at the Guardian here).
As some of you will know, both C and myself are dairy intolerant, something which contributed to C’s poor weight gain as a baby, vomiting, stomach upsets and eczema.
If C eats something containing dairy, within about 12 hours she’s sick. Since cutting it out (under the advice of a paediatrician and nutritionist), she pretty much never vomits, and her eczema has gone away, meaning she no longer needs steroid based creams to manage it. I don’t need an allergy test to tell me that cutting out dairy is the right thing to do, and until she can manage a dairy trial without vomiting again I’ll keep on doing so.
For me, things are pretty straightforward too. I eat dairy? I get a headache. I eat a lot of dairy? I get a migraine. I don’t eat dairy? No migraines. Ta da!
Just because a food intolerance isn’t life threatening, it doesn’t mean it should be ignored.
Sure, I’m not about to go into anaphylactic shock if I eat dairy, and neither is C, but I’d prefer not to spend the next two days with a migraine, or with C throwing up all over me, thank you very much. Not when I know it can be easily and safely avoided.
Surely more people asking for ‘free from’ options at restaurants should make them more aware and careful about how they prepare and list food? It certainly shouldn’t be used as an excuse for when they trigger a reaction with an allergic (anaphylactic) customer, with sometimes devastating consequences. Allergy management should be considered equally alongside food hygiene in a restaurant environment.
Instead of suggesting that we should just put up and shut up and leave dairy free to the ‘true’ allergies – or worse, telling me I’m malnourishing my child – how about just helping everyone to be able to choose what they eat with confidence, and make it easier to find trustworthy information about intolerances, allergies and food substitutes?
Rant over. Normal service will resume shortly.