Ever since my sister had to remove gluten, dairy, and soy from her diet, I’ve seen and heard so many myths and misconceptions. I started Gluten-Free Spirited nearly three years ago and I’ve read a lot of myths and misconceptions in my comments and across social media.
Common myths and misconceptions
One of the biggest misconceptions is that going gluten-free equals weight loss. This is propelled by the dieting market that makes gluten-free trendy or a fad diet. Removing gluten from diet solely for weight loss is not recommended. Not everyone loses weight by eating gluten-free. Some people do lose weight, but this is probably related to less bloating and/or inflammation from gluten sensitivities/allergies. Surprise! Gluten-free foods still have carbs, especially pasta.Knowledge is power Click To Tweet
Another big myth is that the food tastes like cardboard and you have limited options. Sure, Nikki has come across food that tastes awful. Many of the options don’t taste exactly like what you’re used to in. In some cases, it’s the alternative or nothing at all. There has been a lot of trial and error, but Nikki has found many options that fit her dietary needs and give her variety. If you follow GFS on social media, you’ll see food she recommends (and doesn’t). Many of my blogposts are recipes that she likes and thinks you will too. Also, if you join my mailing list, you’ll receive a FREE Beginners Guide to Dietary Restriction Friendly Essentials Checklist which has many food and beverages that my sister recommends. Even though I don’t have dietary restrictions, I’ve tried a lot of the food and recipes and I like them too.
Feedback from others
I knew that Nikki wasn’t the only one experiencing myths and misconceptions about her dietary needs. I decided to ask about experiences that others have gotten in various Facebook groups that I’m in. There was a lot of feedback.
Here’s a sampling of what was shared with me:
-People think that eggs are dairy (this came up several times).
-You shouldn’t be so uptight about the foods you eat.
-Allergies in babies are really just colic.
-Being allergic to dairy means they’re lactose intolerant.
-Babies & young kids will just grow out of their allergy.
-Allergies/sensitivities are all in your head.
-Having a soy allergy just means you can’t have soy sauce.
-Breast milk is equal to dairy.
-You’re depriving yourself.
-Eating just a little bit of gluten will help you build up an intolerance.
-People dismissing how bad their symptoms really are.
-Asking for a special diet is a choice.
-“You can just have a salad.”
-That it’s so easy now because so many things are gluten-free.
-Peanut allergies are easy because all schools are peanut free.
-Dairy-free and egg-free are the same thing.
-“Cleansing” reduces your chances of having an allergic reaction.
Photographic evidence of myths and misconceptions:
Believe When I Say
Another takeaway is people with food sensitivities/allergies just want to be included. Make an effort to have options for them at gatherings. Sure, it’s easier for them to bring their own food and beverages (most of them do). So much of gatherings for birthdays, weddings, holidays, etc. revolve around food. It can be easy to provide options. My sister has gone to family birthday parties and there was literally nothing she could eat. Hell, plain Lays potato chips are at least an option. Having a cookout with a guest that has dietary restrictions? I got you.
My overall takeaway from the feedback I received is that people aren’t educated and don’t take the time to learn or understand because it doesn’t effect them directly. If they can’t see it, it can’t be that bad. You can’t always tell when someone has diabetes, HIV/AIDS, kidney failure, or cancer. You don’t question their diagnosis, so why would you question someone with a food sensitivity or allergy?
I can’t stress this enough: if someone tells you that they have a food allergy/intolerance/sensitivity, BELIEVE THEM. When they tell them that eating or drinking something causes physical pain, bloating, diarrhea, etc., take their word for it. Show some empathy. You can read more about what to do if someone you love has an invisible illness. Thanks for coming to my TEDTalk.
Another helpful resource: the lowdown on the low FODMAP diet
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Feel free to share your experience with me in the comments.People's food allergies/sensitivities are as bad as they say they are Click To Tweet