Pre-emptive answers to your questions about my apparent wheat allergy

Guest post by Drew Mackie

This post originally appeared on one of my best friends’ blogs which you should be following. I begged him to let us feature it here, as I’m sure a lot of Homies have the same experience.

“Wheat ear” by: jonebabanaCC BY 2.0

A fun fact about me: For the last few years, I haven’t been consuming wheat.

Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles, I developed a stubborn rash. Several months and several doctors later, the only method we found to make the rash go away was to not eat wheat — no bread, no pasta, no beer. This hasn’t been so difficult, since hippy-dippy Los Angeles is probably one of the easiest cities in the nation to find gluten-free food. However, my flagrantly anti-wheat lifestyle seems to be a matter of curiosity for everyone else.

Here, then, I’d like to pre-emptively answer any of the questions you might have about it…

Isn’t it very L.A. of you to go gluten-free right after you move there?

I suppose. This city does have a lot of people who avoid gluten for other reasons — they think it’s inherently unhealthy, or that it will make them lose weigh to cut wheat out of their diet. I’m not doing it for those reasons. I’m doing it because of that rash I mentioned.

I’ve read about celiac disease. It affects a much smaller portion of the population than people think, and what you’re describing doesn’t sound like celiac disease. Why are you being such a stupid faker?

First off, you’re a terrible person. Second, I don’t have celiac disease, at least according to the way I have understood that disorder. I suppose you could say that I have a gluten sensitivity. But I think it’s more accurate and much clearer to simply explain that if I eat wheat products, I get a rash, and I’d rather not eat bread than be Scabbly the Rash Man. It’s that simple.

Could it be something else in those products that’s causing the rash?

Yes, totally. The process of going to doctor after doctor was an ordeal, and since not eating these products solves the problem, I’m just going to stick with it, regardless of whether it’s the wheat or something else that’s actually causing the rash.

What happens if you eat this piece of bread?

Jesus, get it out of my face. As near as I can tell, I will get a rash that’s more or less in proportion to how much wheatiness I eat.

What about gluten-free bread?

What about it?

Well, couldn’t you get by on gluten-free products?

Here’s the thing: In my opinion, gluten-free versions of typically gluten-full products suck, much in the same way that soy-based fake meats suck. These things aren’t meant to be sourdough or chorizo or whatever we’re trying to gussy them up as. You can kind of make it work, but the end product will always be an inferior substitute for the real thing. Essentially, I just don’t eat bread anymore. It’s not that hard.

Did you lose weight as a result of giving up all those wheat products?

Yes, but not for the reason you’re thinking. Essentially, I cut bread and pasta and pastries and beer out of my life. Because I just stopped consuming them altogether, and didn’t replace them with gluten-free versions of them, I did lose weight. But people who simply switch to gluten-free foods probably would not. Gluten-free food is not inherently healthier, just more expensive. Also, in general, paying more attention to the composition of everything I eat has helped me make healthier food choices.

No beer, huh? Wait, didn’t you go to UC Santa Barbara?

Yes, and I did consume a superhuman amount of beer there without any negative skin conditions resulting.

What about gluten-free beer?

As someone far pithier than I once put it, gluten-free beer tastes like someone came in a mud puddle.


Yes. I drink wine now.

Do you miss beer though?

Yes. A room-temperature glass of red wine doesn’t really quench your thirst after a long day of yard work the way a cold beer would. But whatever.

Do you miss bread?

Not really. Instead of carbo-bombing before dinner out, I just eat nothing.

Do you miss pizza?

I wouldn’t waste my own family for a real, high-quality pizza that I could eat all on my own without any negative consequences, but I would waste someone else’s family for one, if that explains it at all.

Wait, can you eat rice?

Yes. Rice is not wheat.

Wait, can you eat couscous?

No. Couscous is just pasta.

Wait, can you eat soba noodles?

Yes. Soba is made from buckwheat, which actually isn’t wheat at all, though you still have to check the package to make sure that wheat was not added in.

Wait, can you eat polenta?

Yes. Polenta is made from corn.

Wait, can you eat whole-wheat bread?

Are you fucking kidding me? Stop.

Wait, what about bread pudding?

Wait, can you eat pineapples?

I don’t think you know anything about food.

Can you eat fiberglass?


Can I eat fiberglass?

You know what? Only one way to find out.

Wait, if I cook this in a pan that I used to make Amish friendship bread in, will you die?

[gets up to leave]

Aren’t you just doing this for attention?

No. It’s a real pain in the ass — or wherever else the rash wants to be. And I fucking dread having to ask questions about wheat content at restaurants, because I know the server is thinking, “Oh, this guy probably isn’t actually allergic. He’s probably just a jerkhole.” I have to be picky about restaurants I eat at now, to the point that I don’t think I could ever date a vegetarian, just because our eatery options would be too few. But in the end, this is easier than, say, having to give up a food product I love more, such as fruits or vegetables, and it’s a little more elegant than walking around with the rash.

Hey, some of us were thinking about getting pizza and some beers after work.

Cool, I’ll just have one of those iceberg lettuce salads that pizzerias are so famous for. And a Fanta.

Here, I got you a muffin made out of almonds and tapioca and mashed up flax seeds.

You really shouldn’t have.

If you’d like to read more about wheat, for some reason, I have literally one other post that would be of interest, and it’s about a Greek grain goddess named Spermo. No, really.

So let’s hear it, Homies with food allergies: what other questions — good or ridiculous — are you CONSTANTLY answering?

Comments on Pre-emptive answers to your questions about my apparent wheat allergy

  1. I would just like to apologize – because I am one of those stupid question askers. I’m not as bad as some of those example questions – and I try to keep it to a minimum unless I’m cooking you something for dinner – but yeah – sorry…. I’ll try and be better from now on… 🙂

  2. Some gluten free substitutes for foods that usually contain wheat really are terrible, with texture that is all wrong and taste that is nothing like the food it is supposed to be. However, there are some that are actually good. Good enough that my husband and I still purchase them now that he no longer has to avoid gluten. The good stuff is out there, and I’d be happy to mention brand names if that interests the author of this post (or anyone on the comments) at all. Avoiding those foods altogether is a completely valid choice, and I don’t want to be annoying and offer unwanted advice.

      • OK most of these will be UK specific – but some may be more widely available.
        Bread – Genius or Warburtons are decent brands, but do still taste a bit odd/ crumble easily / are best toasted. However we have just had a Gluten Free Shop set up here in Norwich who as yet don’t do online ordering but who get bread supplied by who do do online ordering (although I don’t know about international deliveries). This bread tastes and feels just like bread – which is wonderful as GF bread is often such a compromise.
        They also get pork pies and sausage rolls from who again do do online ordering. I know its been 15 years since I’ve had a pork pie, but they tasted exactly as I recalled. Nom.
        It is worth spending a little bit more and not getting the most basic gluten free pastas – but most are OK. However keep an eye on them when cooking or they can turn to mush if overcooked. This is for fusilli etc. However for lasagne sheets I do recommend Orgran which not only hold together well, and taste good, but are corrugated which stops them all sticking together in a single lump when precooking them.
        Finally Green’s beers are great – a wide range from light to dark, with real differences in flavours.
        Finally are a very reliable source of GF info.
        Good luck

      • I have to head off to work at the moment, but I’ll post my list later today or early tomorrow. I’m based in the US and I haven’t seen any of the brands mentioned in Katherine Deane’s post, unfortunately.

      • San Zenone makes a good corn pasta – the fusilli shape holds up the best. I think it is a US brand.
        JK Gourmet in Canada has some really good almond flour products and terrific granola.
        Glutino is a brand that I believe is out of Israel but exports to Canada and the US. A lot of their products are very yummy.

      • Here are a few gluten free products that are particularly good:

        Pasta: Notta Pasta is a really good brand and any of their shapes are good. Rice noodles from any Asian market are almost always a good bet, and the dry kind are usually from Thailand. If you can find the fresh refrigerated kind (in large sheets or smaller strips) those are a good buy if they feel very squishy when you buy them. They get stiffer as they sit in refrigeration and are not as good a buy at that point. Rice noodles are great topped with hoisin sauce and peanut sauce if you want something different from the usual noodles toppings.

        Macaroni and Cheese: Annie’s Rice Shells & Creamy White Cheddar and Trader Joe’s Rice Pasta & Cheddar are my two favorites in this category.

        Bread Mix: If you’re willing to bake your own from a bread mix I recommend Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix. Yes, it has odd types of flours in the ingredients such a bean flours. Yes, the dough will smell a little odd due to to those flours. It tastes great and a fresh loaf is less crumbly than other gluten free breads. It also makes good bread crumbs or cubes of bread for stuffing.

        Bread: If you want your bread already baked, Food for Life makes good rice breads. Unless you want bread that is very sweet, avoid the fruit juice sweetened varieties. They don’t work well if you want to put anything savory on your bread.

        Pretzels: Glutino Pretzel Twists are quite good.

        Crackers: Kame Rice Crackers are really good. We usually go for the sesame flavor, but they have lots of other options as well. My husband likes these so much that we still keep buying this kind even though he can eat wheat ones now.

        Donuts: Kinnikinnick makes really good donuts, and I particularly reccomend the cinnamon sugar kind.

        Cereal: There are lots of rice cereals available that have been around since long before packages were noting that they were gluten free. Rice Chex is a good example of this, as are Rice Krispies. You can use a mix of those two cereals combined with spices to make a crust for a fruit crumble.

        There are probably some other that I’m forgetting, but this post is getting long so I’ll add more later if I think of more!

  3. While I try not to ask too many stupid questions, and usually I assume that if a person says “hey, I’m allergic to X,” then that person isn’t making it up and I’m not going to ask “so, if you eat Y food item made with X, will it kill you?”

    On the other hand, I will ask how severe the allergy is, particularly if I’m cooking for that person, or we’re going out to eat. There’s a difference between “I will have a reaction if I eat a whole handful of walnuts” and “I will go into anaphylactic shock if I eat from a dish that came in contact with some walnut dust.”

    One issue that confuses me, though, is with both more severe wheat allergies and celiac disease: if a pan previously used to cook something with a wheat product has been washed (thoroughly by hand or by dishwasher, as I assume that the answer may be different), might cooking something in said pan for someone with an allergy/celiac disease trigger a reaction? AKA, if I’m cooking for someone, I obviously don’t want to make him/her sick or worse.

    • Ask the person you’re cooking for. My partner is a wheat-avoider, much like the author of this article, and he is fine with standard kitchen cleaning procedures. Other people who are more sensitive might need separate dishes or cookware that has never touched a wheat product.

    • If its cookware that can absorb gluten – so usually wooden spoons, bread boards, etc then it can be a problem even after cleaning. If its metal then usual cleaning will be enough. But yes check with the person you are cooking for

  4. I don’t have food allergies but I’ve been a lacto-ovo-pescatarian since I was 13 (I usually just tell people I’m a vegetarian). When I meet new people they inevitably ask me why I don’t eat meat and if it’s for animal rights or something. When I tell them that I just don’t like it and never really did they seem a little disappointed. Sometimes I think they want to argue with me about the concept of animals for food but you can’t really disagree with “I don’t like the way it tastes”. These are some of the other questions I always get:

    “So what do you eat?” Ummm… everything except meat? Is your diet so centered around beef that you can’t imagine a meal without it?

    “Do you eat a lot of salads?” Yeah I like salads, I usually have one for lunch but salad isn’t the only vegetarian option. I also make soups, casseroles, chili, pizza, stir fry, pasta… I eat a variety of things, not just lettuce.

    “Don’t you miss bacon?” No, I don’t like the taste, texture, or smell of meat.

    “Do you use that (insert soy-based imitation meat product)?” No, it’s meant to taste like meat (although it fails miserably from what I remember) and I DON’T LIKE THE TASTE OF MEAT. I cook with veggies and grains usually.

    “What do you eat at Thanksgiving? Surely you eat the turkey?” Nope. No turkey. I eat all the sides. Trust me, I don’t go hungry during the holidays.

    “We’re all eating steak/chicken/pork for dinner. What am I supposed to cook for you?” (asked before almost every dinner party) If you’re doing a meat dish a small piece of fish/portobello mushroom is a good replacement, and I can even bring my own if you warn me. Otherwise I’ll eat the sides.

    “Oops! I forgot you’re a vegetarian and all the sides have meat in them.” Now you’re just being a dick. Seriously some people do this repeatedly and I feel like it’s a passive aggressive way of saying they don’t believe my diet is a valid choice. In retaliation I will drink all their wine or beer. When this happens my husband will abstain from eating too in support of me.

    “You look so healthy for a vegetarian!” I eat a wide variety of foods and I do eat fish sometimes so I probably get more protein then I would if I was vegan. Sometimes the only personal experience people have had with vegetarians besides me is their meat-eating friend who decided to “go-vegetarian” for some reason and tried to survive on ice berg lettuce salads, imitation meat products, and highly processed foods until they got sick and quit. It’s not just about excluding the meat, it’s about including more foods that round out your nutrients. Twinkies aren’t meat but you certainly can’t live on them.

    “Oh no! The spatula touched the meat then touched your garden burger! Is that bad? Should I start over?” Thanks but no, I’m not that picky. If I was I probably wouldn’t be able to eat at most restaurants, BBQs, or family dinners. That being said I don’t cook meat in my own pans, and if my husband really wants bacon he needs to clean the pan himself (grease is gross).

    “The dinner options at my wedding are only chicken and beef. Can you still come?” Is there an open bar?

    “Over used joke about eating grass clippings and rabbit food! Hahaha!” *Rolls eyes until the end of time*

    • I sat here applauding you via Internet for drinking all the dickish hosts beer/wine. Next time I run into a similar situation I may have to try your method 🙂

    • I am also vegetarian for similar reasons, that I really just don’t like it. It really seems to confound meat-eaters, and upsets vegetarians who do it for moral reasons. Usually I just tell the story of my rebellious youth and make a joke about “If you had to eat my dad’s yucky meatballs, you’d be vegetarian too!”

      I also went to a dry wedding once where every side had meat in it. It was pretty awful. I think I convinced my family to all go for pizza after the wedding was over.

      • I have to admit that I am wondering how in the heck you could possibly manage a full meal with meat in all the sides. I mean, I grew up in a place where the town’s smell was “cow”, and I happily nom meat with almost every meal, and still it baffles me. I thought the primary point of sides was to be a variety of flavors and textures to balance out the meal as a whole/give options to the picky or restricted. How do you even manage to find that many things to shove meat into?

        As a side note, if it were up to him, my husband would also be meat-less for the same reason, he just doesn’t like it much. Unfortunately for him I’m a happy meat eater and he has anemia, so the simplest way to handle our joint diet is for him to just suck it up and eat his meats. (Which works out for me, but it does mean I get things like my favorite steak very rarely since he can’t stand meat thats that… meaty and not hidden in things like stews or stuff.)

        • A LOT of people cook their veggies in the meat juice, either by boiling or frying. Pieces of ham in beans and peas are common too. Pretty much none of the sides at Cracker Barrel are vegetarian. Southern comfort food is rarely vegetarian.

          Also, pretty much anything fried might be cooked in leftover bacon oil. This includes bread (cornbread, johnnycakes, etc).

          — someone who grew up mostly vegetarian and mostly kosher in the south

          • Yes, the main dish for the wedding was fried chicken, with sides of green beans with ham, salad with real bacon, mashed potatoes made with chicken stock and gravy already poured on top, and cheesy rolls with bacon.

  5. Hilarious. My sensitivity to wheat/gluten is a fairly recent thing. My mother is convinced that it is all in my head, while also telling me (which I didn’t know) that my brother suffers from the same “delusion” (1st-degree relative with the same symptoms, hmm).
    The last discussion we had will hopefully be the last. I told her, truthfully, that there are at least a hundred things out there that I would have given up voluntarily before I would wish to give up beer. I love beer.

    • Coeliac disease has a strong genetic component, as do allergies.
      And sympathies – I have been gluten and dairy intolerant for about 15 years and my mum still introduces me to restaurant staff as “the fussy one” 🙁 Which does get a firm rebuttal about it being a health decision not a preference, and that I would much prefer to be able to eat anything on the menu, not the usual one or two choices I get.

      • Yes! My mom had such a hard time understanding when grain allergies landed on me. Like I said in my comment below, until I ended up hospitalized – I think my whole family thought I was faking.

        Sometimes I would give anything to be able to eat ‘normal’.

    • Oh my god, so much this. I have problems with dairy, but I also love dairy. My husband can be one of those who is all ‘your food sensitivity is in your head’, but I think he’s getting a little better since, yo, I would eat all the Eton Messes and the soft squidgy cheeses if my butt didn’t get so angry with me.

      • I don’t know what your particular dairy sensitivity is like, so feel free to ignore this if it isn’t relevant. However, if you have a casein (milk protein) sensitivity and can have sheep/goat dairy but not cow dairy, you can probably also have milk from Guernsey cows. There are two types of casein present in typical cows’ milk, and people mostly seem to have a sensitivity to the one. Guernseys only have the one type (the non-problematic one) present in their milk, the same as sheep and goats.

        (There is also anecdotal evidence that raw milk contains enzymes that help us break down the problematic type of casein — my brother can’t have dairy in general, but he’s fine with Guernsey milk, and if he’s having enough raw milk, he can also have regular dairy. Unfortunately, raw milk is illegal in many places, and as such is, according to my brother, “harder to get than street drugs”).

        • Thanks! That might be next stage trials. *I* have no idea what the dairy sensitivity is and I’m actually experimenting at the moment. I know if I have a lot of dairy (small amounts don’t seem to bother me), I seem to get stomach pains, bad gas, and the runs.

          I’ve been trying out a vegan-ish diet for the past two weeks (occasional egg), and found out that subbing cashew cream in for a creamy pasta dish, I didn’t get the gas or stomach pain, but still got the runs. So don’t know if it’s something else, or if that’s a hormonal time-of-the-month issue, or what.

          • I’m not sure what stage of trials you’re at, and my comment will probably be stupid because its usually the first thing brought up when theres dairy problems, but have you tested for lactose intolerance? I ask because your symptoms are literally identical to what I get when I drink milk and I developed lactose intolerance when I was 16.

            Signs of it being lactose intolerance generally are things like being able to tolerate some dairy, but after a certain amount it all goes downhill, and being able to tolerate hard or aged cheeses and yogurt (and sometimes hard serve ice cream) more than you can softer/younger cheeses and milk. A good way to test if this is the issue is to get one of the lactose-free milks – regular milks that have been treated to break down the lactose into other sugars. If you can tolerate the lactose free milk but not regular, its lactose intolerance. If you can’t tolerate the lactose-free, then its a pretty good bet its something else in the milk and the next step would be testing the proteins mentioned above.

          • Ugh. I am fine, until the week of my period, where I am lactose intolerant and can’t stand meat. I thought I was crazy, but apparently, heightened food allergies is completely normal.

    • That’s really terrible when people don’t believe you! It doesn’t help when people who aren’t allergic or sensitive lie and say they are when in fact they just don’t like something; it makes the other person doubt the next person who has a sensitivity. So this is really gross… but I’ve known people with a food intolerance just let the farts fly after a host lied about the ingredients because he thought she was faking. Definitely influenced the atmosphere of the dinner party, but people believed her after that!

      I am allergic to mango as a recent development, but people believe me when they see the blisters form on my lips. It’s really tough to hide those!

      • “So this is really gross… but I’ve known people with a food intolerance just let the farts fly after a host lied about the ingredients because he thought she was faking. Definitely influenced the atmosphere of the dinner party, but people believed her after that!”

        Dutch ovens are totally the way to deal with SOs who don’t believe in food sensitivities.

  6. This is this first time I’ve ever heard of anyone else getting the weird wheat rash!! It started happening to me about 4 years ago, and it’s caused by both wheat and sesame seeds. I thought I was the only one feeling stupidly judged about this issue, especially every time an article is published about how there is supposedly no such thing as a gluten “intolerance;” you either have Celiac disease or you’re faking it. Total, total BS.

    I do have to disagree about the beer though… husband and I brew some super delicious GF beer. It’s an acquired taste, but I actually prefer it now to wheat beer.

    • It very well may be that your home-brewed near-beer is better than the stuff I’ve tried. Can I just buy a pony keg of whatever you’re drinking?

      And if you ever get any further insight on the rash thing, I’m all ears.

      • My Dad was diagnosed with Celiac’s because he had a skin biopsy of his weird rash. He was told only 2% of people with Celiac’s present with that symptom.

        I, on the other hand, have the more typical GI/Migraine Celiac systems…what I would give to just have a rash if I accidentally consume gluten! Ended up in the ER once while traveling thanks to a restaurant that didn’t know they can’t cook the gluten-free noodles in the same water they use for other noodles first. Sheesh.

      • I’m no beer drinker but I do find a pint of real (hard?) cider hits that been-doing-manual-work-all-day spot much better than wine ever could. Have you tried going down the cider/perry/other fruit cider route or is wheat also involved in their manufacture? (some fruit ciders are more like alcopops but there are some good ones out there somewhere!)

          • On this note, since the OP is in Cali, Ace Hard Ciders are delicious. I’m especially fond of the Joker and Honey ciders they offer. (We actually just drank the San Lorenzo valley dry of those two varieties… Here’s hoping it’s been restocked when get back to the west coast!)

  7. As someone who is allergic to grains (that is right no rice, oats, wheat, kamut, spelt, rye etc), I love this article.

    Allergies landed on me 20 years ago and the BS I went through before gluten free anything was available was a huge pain. I have since learned to cook just about anything I want (including a great pizza) but I rarely eat out, it is too much of a hassle, both finding food I can eat and dealing with peoples attitude.

    NO, I can’t have just a little, YES, breadcrumbs are a grain. It is just a little flour – on the outside, that is okay – right?

    I got a lot of crap from everyone about this, until I ended up in an ambulance and the ER with head to toe hives and the whole worrying about dying thing.

    Now that I need reading glasses – food product labels are a pain in the ass.

  8. It sounds like the author may have a condition called Baker’s Asthma. My ex-boyfriend developed it after working as, you guessed it, a baker for Texas Roadhouse. It took a long time to get it diagnosed because his primary symptom was also a rash rather than the respiratory systems that are normally thought of as the primary symptoms of the disease (the rash is normally a secondary or tertiary symptom). It was also before the gluten free thing became trendy, so it was a long time before someone associated wheat with his symptoms. Of course, if you aren’t doing a lot of actual baking and breathing flour, you probably wouldn’t have ANY respiratory symptoms.

    Having a name for your disorder may help stymie some of the stupid questions. “You don’t sound like you have Celiac’s-” “No, I have a different condition called Baker’s Asthma.” “… oh.”

  9. Great post! I get these questions all the time. I recently did the MRT test (blood test) that is for food sensitivities. With the results you find what foods/chemicals/additives you are reactive to and build a meal plan around that using elimination protocol (called the LEAP diet). Anyway – I have lots on my list: lemon, crab, rice, oat, spinach, soy, etc. as well as lecithin, sulfates, red dye etc. It’s both tiring and amusing when people ask what you can and can’t eat and “oh, but you can have bread right?” Well, sometimes yes, sometimes, no – does it have soy? or egg? or rice flour? Or, “so do you get a rash or will you die if you have XYZ?” Er, not in my case but it still can’t consume it because it makes me feel bad. Or, “but spinach is so healthy for you!” – well, not for my body it’s not. 🙂 So, although it’s been quite the experience since I’ve started dealing with my food sensitivities, in the end I don’t mind the interest or questions because ultimately some people end up looking into their own issues and find relief, which is great. 🙂 Sharing is caring, and hopefully by being open about such issues and educating one another, we’ll be one step closer to healing our nation and getting the American food system back on track.

    • The blood test does not work for everyone. I recently had a round of allergy tests, that all came back negative because I take the antidepressant Seroquel.
      So it’s really important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms: type, length, severity, location, etc. so your doctor can help you discover what’s an allergy or what’s a sensitivity.

    • Yep, no spinach or kale for me either. The (ahem) bathroom results are no fun for anyone. My sister is always pushing both on me, since they are so healthy, how can I possibly be sensitive to them . . .

  10. Oh one thing that people may not be aware of is that cooking non-gluten food in fat that has previously been used to cook something containing gluten causes problems. The fat “holds on” to the gluten and contaminates the non-gluten food. So I always check in restaurants that the fries are gluten free (many have wheat flour on them to enhance the crunch) and that they will be cooked in fresh / only used for non-gluten food oil.

    Here in the UK the level of knowledge and availability of gluten free food is improving. I actually love the “faddy” diets as this increases the demand for decent GF foods and reduces their costs. What people choose to eat is none of my business, I always ask and I can usually cook around with little problem. After all if I’m cooking for them, they will be my friends, and I want my friends to be happy and healthy – so whatever the reason I will try and accommodate. After all its usually just one meal or two – no biggy

    • The quickest way to get the answer to this question is to ask if the fries have a dedicated fryer. Thankfully the place at the beach where we get our fries has two completely different sets of fryers, one for the french fries and one for all of the breaded fried food they sell. I don’t know what we would have done otherwise because my son loves those fries and since he’s also dairy and food dye sensitive fries are basically the only treat he can have at the beach.

  11. I could probably write the same post about lactose intolerance. I hate this whole “I don’t eat dairy/wheat because of my DIIIEEET” because it really gives the people who it actually affects the short end of the stick. People assume our allergies/diseases/intolerances aren’t real thanks to those people.

    I’m that person at a restaurant, or someone’s house, asking if something contains dairy. And waiters/waitresses usually give me a confused look and then (depending on the place…some places are super nice and awesome about it) will eye-roll me with a, “I don’t know. No one ever asks. I’ll have to check with the kitchen. Did you want me to?” Yes. Yes I do.

    Because it’s not an allergy, but if I consume dairy without a head’s up I will inevitably destroy the nearest bathroom. So since I can only do so many “courtesy flushes”, can’t clean public restrooms and find it super embarrassing having to ask the hosts where their bathroom cleaner is…I like to be given a head’s up on the dairy content.

    I also like it when restaurants offer dairy/gluten free options on their menus, and if you order said item, they ask if it’s an allergy or a dietary thing. So if it’s an allergy/intolerance/disease thing they will prepare it in their special kitchen so there’s no cross-contamination, and if it’s a dietary thing then they’ll prepare it in their regular kitchen. Shows they care.

    Just saying because a family friend has severe Celiac’s disease, and even if restaurants have a gluten-free option, it’s sometimes not prepared properly and she ends up in the hospital.

    • I totally get this too. I worry that servers will assume I’m full of shit and just one of those people that chooses not to eat something. Where I live most restaurants are very aware as far as what is and isn’t gluten free and usually they are super helpful and friendly about it. I never got tested for celiac disease and I don’t get deathly ill when I eat gluten but it makes me bloat and gives me a rash that gets worse the longer I am eating gluten and I get stabbing pains in my stomach when I eat it but I feel like I’m lying if I say I have celiac disease, even though I probably have it (My dad has it and my sisters both seem to have issues with gluten). I also think I am lactose intolerant. I can tolerate yoghurt and hard, aged cheeses, butter, and a small amount of cream but not milk. If I drink milk I feel like vomiting immediately and I get the shits. On top of all that I appear to be incapable of digesting grains including quinoa, rice, corn, etc. I’m allergic to nuts as well, but not peanuts or coconut, although my stomach reacts to peanuts like it reacts to grains so I don’t eat them. Garlic makes me awfully sick too. Oh, and I can’t eat any legumes as those cause me extreme stomach pain and bloating, like I look 7 months pregnant 1 hour after eating legumes! On one hand it’s difficult at times as there are no gluten free substitutes for bread that I can eat without having stomach pain but on the other hand it forces me to make my own food and I think I am a lot healthier than I was because of it. I always bring my own food when I go out, unless I am eating at a restaurant, even if just because I get grouchy when I am hungry. I have found that restaurants are easy even with the nut allergy because most places have at least one meat and veggy dish that is safe and that’s good enough for me. I eat a lot of steak. I will be eating paleo for the rest of my life, and not by choice, but I am so grateful for the food that I can eat, and I am bloody lucky that I’m left with the things I love most! Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fat, and bacon! Edit: I realize that some people have much more difficulties, especially if they are vegetarian or vegan as well as having lots of allergies and food intolerances and I can not imagine how difficult it would be if I were allergic to fish and eggs as well. That would be a fucking nightmare!

  12. OMG, I had to cut out beer and other barley-containing foods after developing massive, massive heartburn in my 20s – not quite as annoying as wheat I’m sure, but I still get The Questions! No, I don’t think I have celiacs. No, I’m not trying to lose weight. Yes, I can eat other grains, just not barley. No, I’m not interested in taking a daily antacid, I’d rather just avoid barley. No, I don’t want you to buy me gluten-free beer – it’s gross.

    • Oh, here’s a weird thing I just remembered: I can drink fruit-based ciders just fine, but fruit beers like Redd Apple Ale are right out. Apparently this distinction is difficult for some people to grasp – everything that sounds fruity is in the same mental category for them.

      • Yes – it’s remembering that wheat and barley are used in brewing most beers – even those with added fruit. To be fair when I first went gluten free it took me a while to work out why I felt sooo bad the morning after the night before – and then it was “head slap!!” – beer is made from wheat – DOH!
        Unfortunately if you drink red wine (I don’t – migraines) then you have to check because some of them get filtered using wheat – a real pain

      • Just learned this about ‘ciders’ – apparently there are some that are made like a liquor (distilled like a vodka) and some that are made like a beer (fermented using yeasts and often mixed with beer products) or even made like a wine. In the US, you have to have a liquor license to sell the ones that are made like a liquor, but you only need a beer or bar license to sell the other kinds that are made like a beer (for example,Redd Apple Ale). Fun fact for the day!

  13. I suffer form multiple food allergies. When my shellfish allergy was first identified, and I first told people about it, they simply assumed that it was BS, because I’m a vegetarian. The thing is, they didn’t really even ask any questions, just ignored the fact. I will never forget rushing to the hospital at 7 months pregnant, as I went into anaphylactic shock, because someone hadn’t mentioned that they’d put shrimp in a bread stuffing that they’d offered me. Someone who knew full well that I was a vegetarian, and that I was allergic to shellfish. The allergy actually worsened over the years, and now I cannot even be in a room with certain crustaceous shellfish, or I start to puff up and have difficulty breathing. This has done wonders for my ability to eat at restaurants. Or rather, now lack of ability to eat at restaurants. The best part? My own parents *still* try to convince me to eat crab!

    To make it even better, after years of weird symptoms, it has now been suggested that I also have a corn allergy. Suggested by a physician, yes. Corn allergies are supposedly rare, but it was only when corn was cut from my diet that the rashes, fatigue, and unexplained sweating stopped. Take a look at everything that contains corn and see how you would do on that diet. Yes, corn is in just about everything. Most notably in medications, which is where this particular odyssey actually began. Again, no one even bothers asking questions, I wish that they would. No, they just choose to ignore it and tell me to just take a Tylenol when I have a headache.

    So yeah, if the choice is the never ending questions versus the people who choose to pretend it’s all in your head, I’ll take those questions.

    • I’ve noticed so many over the counter medications labeling that they are Gluten Free, but it’s a good point that if they replace the filler with gluten for once made from corn, or corn starches, someone with a corn allergy would obviously have a problem.

      • A few years ago a friend of mine who has lactose intolerance couldn’t take the pill because they all had lactose as a filler. I’m sure there are more options nowadays (like the patch, or the ring), but really, wtf?

    • I had a roommate (and now ex-friend) who was convinced that my shellfish allergy was a preference, and she tried to sneak mussels into a pasta dinner. Luckily, I caught it before I ate it, but seriously. Who pretends to have anaphylaxis for funsies?

      People are really, really invested in you eating the same foods as them. I’ve never figured it out. It’s like, my allergies are not a referendum on your food choices. I’m not avoiding this long list of foods because of some moral superiority or because I like to be difficult. It’s so I can function without distinct risk of death. But it’s incredibly personal for some people. I so do not get it at all.

    • I have a similar issue with medications. I have multiple allergies, including an extreme allergy to soy and its many forms, which are unfortunately also in ALL THE THINGS, like the coating on tablets, or the actual capsules for gelcaps. I love it when people tell me just to take an allergy med to deal with an issue and my reply is, “when you’re allergic to allergy meds, even the ER can’t help.” Oh, and just to make it fun, the last time I was in the hospital for a bit, my parents had to drive 45 minutes each way to go home and MAKE food for me, because the hospital (and its many dieticians and nutritionists) couldn’t find a way to safely feed me. Good luck and much love to all who suffer with these kinds of issues!

  14. I’m probably one of those people that the author loaths for saying they have a food allergy when they really don’t. I do have a medical condition that makes it so I will be in major pain for days it I eat certain foods. I’ll often tell a server that I can’t have food with tomatoes, for example, and explain – no salsa, no ketchup, etc. But, then, they bring out the salad with bright red tomatoes sitting right on top! REALLY? I have found that if I say that I’m ‘allergic’ to a certain food, then the server or cook actually takes it seriously and understands that I can’t have it, not just that I’ll pick it off when the meal comes if they forget. Using the word ‘allergic’ in a chain restaurant is like saying the magic words – they don’t want to be responsible when something bad happens!

    • Totally agree – after all its not any business of the restaurant the reason behind your request – they do not have the right to know your medical history. So describe it in a way that will get you safe food – even if that stretches the “truth” a bit.
      People can get rather judgmental about food choices, preferences, restrictions – which is unhelpful. Sticking to a restricted diet is hard and complex – I’ve just supervised a PhD on this so really could bore you for hours on this – so even if you have a “real” need to restrict your diet, it can be that today you just can’t resist having a cold beer or a crunchy french stick – and you’ll deal with the consequences later.

    • Similar to the original post I get a rash but it is caused by peanuts. When I am at a restaurant I always mention that I have a peanut allergy since no one wants the liability. Now most likely I will just get a little itchy if a little peanut butter or crushed peanut gets into my food but and allergy can develop at any time. It stands to reason that if I am already sensitive to peanuts that they could become a full blown allergy, and as my husband reminds me he never wants to perform an emergency tracheotomy should I go into anaphylaxis. So better safe than sorry in my book!

      • I have been told by my naturopathic physician that with allergies, even severe ones, the severity of each reaction can vary widely. For example, you might have a full on anaphylactic reaction to walnuts, seemingly out of nowhere, thus discovering you are allergic to them, so you buy your epipens or allerject or what ever and you carry them around along with the fear that it will happen again, and you may again accidentally ingest some walnuts but this time you may just have a rash or a little itch in your throat. It may progress into a full anaphylactic reaction. It may not. I never knew this before I became allergic to nuts and to me this unpredictability is almost scarier than if the reaction were to be exactly the same each time. I also thought that injecting with epinephrine made it all better, but in reality it is only meant to help you survive until you can make it to the hospital! There are so many misconceptions about life threatening allergies. Anyway, my point is always always ALWAYS carry your epinephrine on you. And if you live in a rural area, make sure you either carry 2 (or even 3) epipens or 1 epipen and a vial of epinephrine and some sterile syringes because each does only delays the reaction for 15 or so minutes. It isn’t very good for you to take too much epinephrine either so on top of all that, get your ass to the hospital as soon as you start reacting!

    • And here is the fun one, I AM allergic to tomato! Yet using the word “allergic” doesn’t do anything because for some reason I find people just don’t connect an allergy to tomato to other products containing tomato! The number of times I have had the following conversation
      “ummm, sorry, I said I am allergic to tomato, I can’t eat this”
      “they aren’t tomatoes, they are sun dried!”
      “they are still freaking tomatoes!!!!”

      Or when they replace the tomato sauce on my burger with BBQ sauce, when I have specified no sauce, because “It isn’t a burger without sauce”. Yeah, BBQ sauce still has tomato!

      And the looks you get when you ask if the is any tomato in the pumpkin soup (because 50% of the time there is)….

  15. I don’t have any particular wheat sensitivties, but I do like to taste beers. I’ve had some recently (in the last 12 months) that have been made with a corn, sorghum, or rye base. And they were pretty tasty, and I didn’t miss the wheat. Typically the ones with more hops taste a bit better than the ones that add sweeteners like fruit or honey, in my opinion.
    Meads are also getting more popular where I’m from, so might be worth trying out. A traditional mead is only made with fermented honey, so no grains at all are involved.

  16. Last year I developed a temporary wheat intolerance after a bout of stomach flu (yes, this can actually happen), so I had to cut wheat out of my diet for several months. Since I did not want to answer any of these questions, I basically didn’t mention it to anyone except of course close family. I would just eat different stuff. Eat rice, go to the salad bar, whatever. It’s not like others are constantly analyzing or judging your food choices. If you eat something and don’t comment on it in any way, people will just assume you feel like eating it. (Of course my case was entirely different from that of people with severe food allergies who will react to trace amounts.)

    • Yes! I stopped eating wheat a while ago for various health reasons and feel a hell of a lot better not eating it. I /can/ handle it every once in a while, but I don’t tell people that because then they don’t take it seriously. It’s the hardest to explain to coworkers who want you to try their homemade baked goods… Friends/family understood that I didn’t want to talk about it or make a big deal about it -I just ate other things and it wasn’t that hard for me. But work was the worst! “Try some of my brownies! Did you have a cookie yet? I made a pie, it’s in the back, have some!” “Oh sorry, I actually don’t eat wheat anymore… “. “Why? What happens when you eat it?” Ummmm…. Do you really want to hear about diarrhea? Because I don’t want to tell you. But one of them said, “is not eating it having the desired effect?” And I said yes! No more questions, it was nice.

  17. “Wait, if I cook this in a pan that I used to make Amish friendship bread in, will you die?” [gets up to leave]

    IDK, I think the snarkiness is unwarranted for this question. I would have thought the food I’m serving was cooking in a metal pan that I ran through the pots and sanitize cycle in the dishwasher would be ok. It’s fine if it’s not, but attitudes like this are why people sometimes have issues with cooking for people with sensitivity to certain ingredients. Would you rather people not ask questions and just assume?

  18. I could have written this article. Just substitute the word “rash” with “profuse farting.”

    Best thing to drink besides beer: GT brand kombucha, the Third-Eye Chai flavor. It’s not beer, but it’s fizzy and really quenches the thirst like beer does.

  19. THIS! So much this. After years of doctor’s appointments, tests (ultrasound, CT scan, endoscopy, colonoscopy) to determine the source of my daily incapacitating stomach cramps, I figured out it must be gluten through trial-and-error.

    Though I don’t have celiac disease (as in, eating gluten won’t send me to the hospital), I do have a very strong (painful, lingering, recurring) reaction to gluten and now have to discuss the gluten-free options with a server at restaurants. I definitely got the “… so is it a PREFERENCE, or…” from a server while at The Keg recently.

    NO it’s not celiac disease, but it’s also NOT a preference.

  20. I don’t often comment (and I hate to say something negative) but I’m a little concerned by this post, especially the references to medical symptoms. Contrary to the original post, as I understand it (and as mentioned above) rashes can actually be a symptom of coeliacs disease. Secondly, coeliacs disease is not technically an allergy or intolerance – it is an autoimmune condition that can be managed through diet. It’s a complex condition and can be difficult to diagnose.

    It’s always great to read about different lifestyles and diets etc but perhaps we should leave discussion of medical conditions to medical experts to avoid spreading misinformation?

  21. Someone mentioned above about fillers or binders in prescriptions. Be very careful getting generic drugs, yes, they may be a heck of a lot cheaper but you risk a much higher chance of getting fillers that can cause a reaction.
    In Canada the Dr. just has to include a disclaimer with the prescription to make sure I always get name brand.

  22. I had to give up gluten way before it was the “thing” to do. It makes me hypothyroid and gives me a really sore back. A full day backache is not worth a slice of bread.

    Anyways, I only just discovered chickpea flour this year, and I LOVE IT! I make a pizza substitute called farinata: And a crepe called socca:

    And basically use it in all my GF baking. It is the most wheat-like flour I have ever used. The only trick is the flavour… so I tend to only use about 50% chickpea flour in sweet things. But Farinata is SOOO good that I never miss pizza, and I recommend it for those gluten-pizza eaters!

    • That’s how I was diagnosed with celiac! I was hypothyroid and vitamin d and b deficient. My doc said celiac can cause all three of those and sent me for the blood test. I was diagnosed two months ago and my thyroid and vit levels are back to normal without synthroid or anything, just gluten free. I’m so thankful I had a doctor that tried to find a cause, because I’ve never ever had any symptoms, and so I never know when I’ve been contaminated.

  23. Public Service Announcement: WHEAT AND GLUTEN ARE NOT THE SAME THING.

    It is critically important to people who DO have celiac disease that we stop confusing those things. Things can be “wheat-free” without being “gluten-free.” So. If you have a wheat allergy, you must avoid wheat, but you can still eat all sorts of other processed food that may not contain wheat, but DOES contain gluten. People who have celiac disease MUST eat gluten-free, not just wheat-free.

    One of my best friends has celiac disease. The confusion about “wheat-free” vs. “gluten-free” has had extremely detrimental consequences for her at restaurants and dinner events where people didn’t understand the difference.

    • Absolutely. There’s also confusion about spelt too – last week I read in a food magazine an interview with an actress who said “i follow a gluten free diet so now I eat spelt bread”. But spelt is wheat and full of gluten! You’d think a food magazine would check that sort of thing. Although the increased awareness about different options is great, spreading misinformation does create a real problem for people who have to follow the diet strictly.

  24. Not trying to nit pick but your comment about getting more protein than a vegan.. Likely not true. Vegans get their protein from non animal sources but it’s not an inferior protein, nor do we get less of it than meat eaters, it’s just different 🙂

  25. I just wanted to chime in on the topic of soba noodles. I recently went to the only Japanese supermarket in my city of 5m people to buy some soba noodles. They had a selection of at least 20 different brands and packet sizes. ONE of those did not have any wheat in it. They proudly advertised it as “100% buckwheat”. And they were out. Boo.

    So nope, no soba noodles in my near future (and certainly not when going out to eat).

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