Jump to content

Food requirements


Pumpkin27

Recommended Posts

Hi! I have an autoimmune disease that requires a very limited diet. How can I not come off as high maintenance or having fragile health, two things I don't want to appear?! My health is pretty fine as long as I stay on this diet and follow a treatment protocol, but I feel like the minute I say autoimmune everyone thinks I'm about to keel over on them.

I can have water and coffee which is what I've been offered so far, but I'm concerned about visitations that occur over a whole weekend. I always bring my food everywhere, so I figure that's what I'll do, and just say I have food allergies if needed. Does that sound okay?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That sounds reasonable. As long as you are friendly and still go out with others, even if you can't eat, I think you'll do fine. People might worry and/or offer you things you can't have, but if you just explain that you have an allergy and you have your own food so everything is fine, they will understand. There is no reason why it should make you seem weak or sick. The one thing to watch out for is that you don't let it exclude you from important activities such as dinners or lunches. To me this is not all that different from not drinking but still going out to the bar with everyone and getting a ginger ale or something. No one will judge you for it, and you still get the important social interaction that these outings are designed for. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a friend who has a similar health issue with a long list of things they can and cannot eat. My friend often brings their own food to events that include meals so that they can participate in the event and just eat something they know that is okay for them to eat. My friend also designed a helpful little card (business card sized) that lists things that are okay / not okay that they use when they eat at a restaurant. It's mostly things like certain oils or contamination from other dishes that they are worried about (e.g. ingredients that aren't on the menu!). So, that could also be an option if the meals are at a restaurant instead of catered at the department.

Usually, when the visitation weekends are planned, the admins will ask visitors for any food allergies to ensure they order something that everyone can eat. If they are ordering individual meals, then I think you can either just mention you have a lot of food allergies and you will just bring your own food. Often, they might offer to get the caterer to make a special meal for you and then you will be put in contact directly with the person making the food so that they design something you can eat. This happens when the on-campus caterer is catering food for our events. However, usually for large groups, they are not going to order individual meals, but will probably give options like "eat meat and vegetables", "vegetarian", "vegan" etc. For this, you can again say food allergies or just pick an option that closely matches what you can eat and bring your own food in case, or just let them know you will bring your own meal. 

Definitely want to say that even if you can't eat the food at the meal, you should still attend and use the time to socialize!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would say food allergies, rather than autoimmune, if you're asked. I have some weird food allergies but always clearly communicate them whenever people ask. People may think they're weird but, no one wants you getting sick on a visit! If you're willing to bring your own food, then tell them that too. Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have pretty interesting dietary restrictions. I don't really know how your autoimmune issues work as far is your food is concerned (sorry for the ignorance)... but if it isn't actually an allergy, I would avoid saying that it is. I prefer to just say that I have "dietary restrictions" for health reasons. Its always best to be as honest as possible. But if it is an allergy, than no problem. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm just curious, is there some reason why you are suggesting that people do not say food allergies if it's an autoimmune system? Just in case tone is hard to convey in text, I'm not trying to disagree with you, but instead, my current knowledge is that there should not be anything wrong with calling non-allergy things "allergies" but I hope to learn why I'm wrong.

(The reason why I would suggest saying allergies is that my friends with autoimmune issues call them allergies for simplification. After all, if my friend eats one of these foods, they will get sick and require hospitalization and it could be fatal. So the risks are similar to food allergies.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have pretty interesting dietary restrictions. I don't really know how your autoimmune issues work as far is your food is concerned (sorry for the ignorance)... but if it isn't actually an allergy, I would avoid saying that it is. I prefer to just say that I have "dietary restrictions" for health reasons. Its always best to be as honest as possible. But if it is an allergy, than no problem. 

If I eat anything with any amount of gluten, it attacks the aveli in my intestines, causing internal bleeding, gut twisting (the most painful thing you can imagine), horrible stomach and body pains, and usually results in hospitalization for fluids and precautions for the intestinal twisting. Bleeding issues and pain continue for about another three weeks. It's called Celiac's Disease.

I have similar annoyances for people who claim the gluten makes them feel "a little off" or are "gluten free" until a cinnamon roll comes around. But I think the severe food allergy people and me share enough of a burden to hang out for a while. Plus just like you said, you don't know how autoimmune issues work with food, and neither does like, 99% of the general population, which makes it difficult to explain why things like vinegar can be problematic (dervived from wheat!)! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also can't eat wheat, among other things. But instead of Celiac's I have a specific compound that my body doesn't digest, so it acts as sandpaper through my intestines. I get very sick. I understand dietary restrictions are very serious, as I do have them, but mine are not an actual allergy or autoimmune issue. 

If you have an actual allergic reaction, there's nothing wrong with just saying that. 

But to the above poster, I don't like it when people say they have allergies if they have some other dietary issue because the reactions can be exceedingly different, and there are a lot of people out there that say they are "allergic" to something when they're not. They take the credibility out of the people who are actually allergic to something, even if it does make them sick. Cinnamon is a Migraine trigger for my mom... she absolutely can't eat it without get violently sick, sometimes to the point of going to the ER... but she doesn't say she's allergic. I can't eat wheat, but I'm not allergic, so I don't say I am. It's just a pet peeve of mine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

sjoh197, I totally get what you're saying. But, my experience has been that when I tell people I can't eat pork, they'll say things like "well, it's just a bit of bacon/prosciutto/etc." as if that somehow means I'll have less of a reaction to it. In my case, pork makes me violently ill, sometimes requiring a trip to the ER (though luckily this has been rare). I simply can't eat it. But, outside of places like NYC where there are large Jewish populations, people try to serve me pork even after I say I can't eat it as though the only reason not to eat pork is a religious one. Consequently, I've taken to telling people that I'm allergic because then they stop trying to get me to eat pork. People are weird when it comes to their acknowledgment of other people's dietary issues. The reason I suggested mentioning an allergy rather than saying autoimmune is to avoid the issue I have where people think just a little bit will be okay.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That makes sense... and it is amazing how many people will try to coax you into eating things you can't. I just started making everything myself and rarely accept food from others. Eating out isn't usually bad because the servers don't want you to have a reaction to their food.... bad for business. 

 

I also can't properly digest any sugar alcohols or alcohol itself... and that is the hardest one to get people to understand. I just started saying I'm the designated driver to avoid the ... C'mon, just one drink. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Pumpkin, if your autoimmune disease is Celiac's, I think you should just tell them you have Celiac's. It's quite well-known now and no one should think you are weak or sick because of it. But if you're uncomfortable with that, by all means do whatever makes you comfortable. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use