Hello my beautiful souls.
As I sit here, insomina in full swing I just wanted to reflect on my 'food' experience during this trip to Birmingham. It has been SO tough and eye opening.
My Mum has been my little warrior bless her and now I think realises more than ever how the message of food intolerances & food allergies is needed to be spread as fast and as much as possible to solve the issues I have faced over the past few days.
Despite speaking to hotel staff, managers, chefs & waiters we still came across problems.
In the sense that they simply don't listen or take note seriously.
We also faced the issue of lack of knowledge, education and mis-informed. The chef believes because a product says 'gluten free' that it is also wheat free. I feel they don't understand that these ingredients are different and not the same.
Quinoa, barley and buckwheat are 'wheat' ! They are a form of wheat, yes they are gluten free but NOT wheat free.
Gluten free pasta does sometimes contain quinoa as it is a great flour alternative for people with gluten intolerances. However this can not be consumed by people with wheat intolerances. Yes the package may say rice or corn pasta but PLEASE check the ingredients. The chef himself came out to me to show the the package that stated it was gluten free - I then looked on the back with him and in the smallest text ever ( another issue that needs addressing - labelling NEEDS to be clearer) the ingredients stated in a little bit bolder that the pasta did indeed contain 5% quinoa wheat flour. I know it is only 5% but after having a reaction the day before and already feeling fragile I didn't want to risk it. Again the chef didn't understand really the difference between wheat and gluten and really what my issue was. His way of solving the issue was just to ask me what I wanted to eat.
Which really they should have done first time around. However, I feel despite stressing what I can and can't have the waiters and chefs walk away and either don't stress the issues enough or are just simply ignorant to them and add what they would normally add like oil after being told NO OIL.
Yes I am SO lucky that my intolerances won't kill me but I also don't deserve to suffer, feel ill and cause me to miss out on important work, events and life due to pure ignoarnace.
I am not dismissing the staff's hard work and understand they have many mouths to feed and many people who have dietary requirements. However I don't feel that dietary requirements are taken seriously enough. They do kill people, people do die!!
We process and add so much to our foods these days that we have no clue what we are being served and labels are so unclear and small with their text that people simply can't be bothered to read, can't read because they are too small or don't understand because they aren't clear enough.
There is lack of knowledge - like I said above the way we eat, consume and make food is so different than it used to be. Chefs who qualified 10 plus years ago may not be up to date with new products, new allergens, new products, the different ingredients used etc. And this lack of knowledge could cause them a lot of problems. Education, training and re-examination needs to be brought in to help chefs stay on top with the ever evolving times.
Like our industry we have annual conferences and we come away surprised every year how things have changed and how much we learn!! It's the same thing! These waiters and chefs need to be kept in the know!!
Like I say it's not the chefs and waiters fault - the food industry need to stop being ignorant and need to help us with proper labelling, education, training and less processing.
Also waiters need to ask especially with gluten how sensitive that person is to gluten. As under U.K. law products under 20% gluten can be classed as gluten free - this means things like chickpeas, hummus, beans and some 'gluten' free products - bread, cakes and snacks etc can still contain a significant amount of gluten as 20% is nearly a 1/4 of the product. Well someone very sensitive could react very badly to these products. Again EDUCATION.
Knowledge is power!
This trip has been lovely, I have met some inspiring, beautiful and motivation people and learnt so much more about our industry.
However due to all the issues above I have suffered from a sore throat, swelling of the throat, horrendous headaches, nausea, stomach cramps, embasrrassment and serious brain fog.
These issues I shouldn't and don't deserve to be suffering with and it clouds my experience and causes anxiety having to manage them.
I am lucky and blessed the have experienced an amazing week, of learning, education, beautiful people, inspiring speeches, talented entertainment and yummy foods ( when all has been taken into consideration).
Of course I am blessed and grateful for my P.A, soul sister, warrior, best friend and Mama fighting my corner. I know if she could she would magically get me the foods I miss, crave and desire the most.
We all know if I could eat what I wanted - I would have the BIGGEST bowl of branflakes, a Yatsu Curry from Wagamama's, the biggest pizza in the world with the thickest crust and roasted veggies on ( eggplant and artichokes especially ), rum and raisin ice cream, Mama's run and raisin cheesecake and maybe a sticky toffee pudding. Yes that seems a lot of food but I could probably take it all down in one day. I miss, crave and desire it too much. It wouldn't stay long on the plate.
If you do have food intolerances and have any advice, or issues you have come across or experienced - please reach out!
Let me know how you cope, what you eat and how you deal with embarrassment caused.
Thank you for reading.
Love and peace.