I asked the guy who was making my salad to please point out anything I should avoid because of gluten. He asked me if I had an allergy.
Here’s where I would normally say yes.
Over the past few years, I have found that when I go to a restaurant, the word ALLERGY triggers the correct response that keeps my food safe from gluten contamination. Within the celiac community, this can cause some serious controversy.
Celiac disease is NOT an allergy to gluten, it is an autoimmune disease. I get that. But I also want to be as safe as possible when eating out, and many times the term “celiac disease” is met with a blank stare. Most restaurants have an “allergy” button on their computer and “allergy” protocols in their kitchens. Allergy is a word people understand, so I use it.
But on this particular day in Austin, I didn’t. When he asked if I had an allergy, I told him no. I have celiac disease.
And his response changed my whole way of thinking.
He had never heard of celiac disease before, but he wanted to know more. He asked good questions, and even said that he planned to look into it more when he got home. This man cared enough to learn about celiac disease so he could serve customers better in the future.
This was a lightbulb moment for me.
Because I have been using the word “allergy” I have missed out on opportunities to educate and advocate for the celiac community.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to go into a whole spiel every time I visit a restaurant from now on, but I will use the words “celiac disease” when ordering gluten-free.
Hopefully it will spark some questions and a little more understanding from the servers even as they continue to punch the “allergy” button on their computers.