I have not been in the gluten free world as long as some of you have. In many ways, this makes it extra tough for me because I had SO MANY YEARS of eating without really giving it a second thought. To now have to be conscious of each bite is still taking a lot of getting used to.
My oldest daughter and I had to give up gluten for health reasons. I understand that many people are giving up gluten for reasons that don’t fall under Celiac Disease, food allergy, or gluten intolerance.
Whether your brain chooses to give up gluten or your body makes the choice for you really doesn’t matter for what I’m about to say.
I’ve noticed a lot of anger among the gluten free crowd lately and, frankly, I kind of “get it” but I mostly “don’t get it.”
I understand being annoyed when food manufacturers, restaurants, and stores don’t give enough attention to those of us who have to eat gluten free. I know it’s frustrating to see restaurant after restaurant introduces new menus and new menu items that (consistently) fail to address those of us who have special needs.
But here’s the thing…. they don’t have to acknowledge us or cater to us. Their vast majority of patrons can eat gluten and this is where their vast majority of money comes from. If you feel that a restaurant isn’t sensitive to your needs, eat elsewhere. Seriously. Don’t wage war against them on social media. You are not doing any good whatsoever – in fact, you’re doing harm by making all of us look like militants.
I choose to focus on the positive in all corners of my life, including what I put into my face. I celebrate the fact that Jimmy John’s has a gluten free “Unwich” rather than fixating on the fact that Subway can’t seem to figure it out.
Like a lot of gluten free people, I send polite, courteous suggestions to restaurants requesting more options. I even heard back from one (Arby’s). These restaurants usually say the right things – things like…
- “We’re working on it…”
- “I know we’re dropping the ball…”
- “This is something we care about..”
BUT, if they don’t put the words into action, it’s a clear sign they simply don’t care enough.
Frankly, to keep after them seems a bit like a rejected boyfriend or girlfriend begging to be loved. If they don’t care… have a little pride, move on! If, at this point, they haven’t figured out how to come up with gluten free options, we are simply not welcome there.
There are plenty of restaurants that DO care – give them your business. If you will simply do this (and are certain to praise them for their thoughtfulness), you’ll be a lot happier.
Also, if you happen to have family members and friends who love you enough to take their business only to places YOU are “welcome,” the point will be made even better.
In my experience, the following restaurants are just a few that have rolled out the welcome mat:
- Jimmy John’s (all chips are gf and any sandwich can be made into an unwich)
- Chick-Fil-A (grilled chicken, fries, and coleslaw are all gf)
- Five Guys (Fries are GF and you can order your burger wrapped in lettuce)
- TGIFriday’s (they even have a gf bun for burgers!)
- Olive Garden (gluten free pasta and salad W/Out croutons)
- Cracker Barrel
- Wendy’s (chili, baked potato, salad)
- Denny’s (really taking strides!)
- Bob Evans (a lot to choose from)
Visit them, thank them, and stop demanding love from those that don’t care – especially if you’re militant and angry in your approach. You’re making us look bad, dude.
The same holds true for food manufacturers. If a company makes a great effort to meet our special needs, acknowledge and thank them to the moon and back. Support the gluten free food companies as much as you possibly can. Write thank you letters and praise them on social media.
Isn’t that the cool thing to do, after all?
I heard from a woman once who said she had so much anger – not because of her own gluten free needs – but because of her son’s. She said she’d get so mad when she saw the many restaurants they couldn’t eat at. At the risk of wading out into self help-y waters, this kind of anger is toxic. Not just for the mom, but for the child…. for the whole family, for that matter.
Please, just stop with the anger. It’s easy to fall into a victim role (especially when you’re more concerned for your child than yourself… believe me, I get that as well as anyone) – but we aren’t victims. We simply have to eat a certain way, that’s all, and common sense says if you can’t eat HERE, you go eat THERE…
… and you thank the good Lord above that THERE is there.
As we head into 2016, I just hope you’ll remember to look for the positive in all areas of life, including food. Don’t let bitterness, anger, resentment, or a sense of being victimized define you or us.
We’re better than that.
P.S. Oops, guess I wasn’t ready to step down off the soap box after all. When an unfortunate mistake happens (and we’re all human, these things happen!), please don’t berate and bludgeon the one who made a mistake to death. If a company’s gluten free product is compromised and you are “glutened” or you hear of other people who were “glutened” please think before you lash out with wrath only befitting God in the Old Testament. Yes, it’s horrifying that something needless happens and it’s tragic that someone would have to suffer needlessly for someone else’s mistake.
However, if the mistake is addressed and the company has apologized… what do you want? Blood? If we (the gluten free crowd) want others to WELCOME us, we must NOT come across as angry militants looking for a fight.
Would you welcome such a person? Of course not.
We’re in this together and we tend to represent one another. The militants are making more trouble for us, as a group, than anyone.
- Don’t make everything a fight!
- Go where you’re welcome.
- Brush off the places you aren’t welcome.
- There’s a difference between standing up for yourself and pushing yourself on someone.
- You are not a victim.
- Remember life only comes once – be happy.