Monday, January 3, 2011

Is it inconsiderate to eat GF when dining with non-GF friends and family?

Note: We seem to be experiencing a dearth of comments in response to this story. Is everyone now committed to the avoidance of social gatherings for fear of causing someone else to be inconvenienced, or worse still, endangering their health with dietary non-compliance just to fit in? 

A recent article by Michael Hastings, the Food Editor for the Winston Salem Journal, entitled "Predictions on top food issues of 2011" includes the following paragraph:

"Gluten-free. More people are avoiding wheat and other foods that contain gluten. It's not just people with celiac disease but also those with sensitivities to gluten. A gluten-free bakery called Lindy's Gluten-Free Goodies and More recently opened in Greensboro, Mellow Mushroom is selling gluten-free pizza, and stores such as Whole Foods Market have large gluten-free sections. Look for this category to expand even more (and cause headaches for anyone planning a party or other food gathering)."

When contacted by a member of the NCPTGIG about his closing statement regarding the headaches destined for those planning gatherings involving gluten free persons, Mr. Hastings replied with the suggestion that gluten free "dieters" are causing non-GF individuals to suffer by giving up their favorite foods to accommodate the special diet. Moreover, he also implies that we gluten free individuals are a rather inconsiderate bunch. While I strongly disagree with his assumptions, which demonstrate a significant lack of tact and respect for those dealing with food allergies, I encourage everyone to read the article written by Mr. Hastings, as well as the email exchange (see "read more" below) I have summarized herein, and form your own opinions. Any and all comments are welcome. If you would like to contact Mr. Hastings or Mr. Cronk, the Team Leader of the Lifestyles section of the WSJ:

Michael Hastings, Food Editor: (336) 727-7394
Alan Cronk, Team Leader: (336) 727-7339

Sent: Friday, December 31, 2010 10:28 AMTo: Hastings, Michael R.
Subject: food issues for 2011

I found  your food issue column for 2011 informative and interesting as usual.  I look forward to reading this column at the end of each year.  I was pleased to see that the gluten free issue is still on the list and  you see it  continuing to grow due to the increased diagnosis of celiac disease and other gluten sensitivities. Current research is showing more people have gluten sensitivities than those who have celiac disease.
However, I was  quite surprised and disappointed with your closing comment about causing headaches for those who invite us to parties or other social gatherings.  You have been to several of our support group meetings and listened to our stories about how hard it is to shop, to eat out at restaurants, and to attend other social functions.  I feel your closing comment will discourage people from inviting us to their homes or including us in their activities.  Yes, It does take some extra planning to accommodate a gluten free person but it is not that difficult.  There are so many foods out there that are naturally gluten free it should not be a problem.
We just spent the holidays with our son and daughter-in-law where we had a very special Christmas eve dinner with their friends.  My daughter-in-law checked with each person to see what they were bringing and told them what ingredients to substitute if needed.  Consequently,  I ate safely and it was no big deal.
May your New Year be a blessed one.
Martha R.
Member of NCPTGIG Group

Sent: Friday, December 31, 2010 11:05 AM
Subject: RE: food issues for 2011

I understand what you're saying. But what I hear from both friends and family of GF dieters as well as GF dieters themselves is that for most people it is a big challenge and a lot of extra work. It is not hard because of working around bread and pasta and all the obvious things, but the little things like gravy, soy sauce, ice cream with a starch in it. Results of subbing GF bread, pasta, etc., often yields subpar results, too, making it a frustrating experience.
Yes, I have been to meetings of your support group, and certainly sympathize with those eating a gluten-free diet. But l think it only fair also to sympathize with people who don't need to cook or eat a GF diet, but do so for the sake of friends and family, often giving up foods or dishes they love in the process.
There are many people who go out of their way to accommodate others' special diets. I just think they deserve a little credit and understanding for that.
Thanks for writing, and have a Happy New Year.

No comments: