I love travelling - we all know that but with food intolerances & allergens it makes an exciting venture often a very stressful experience.
It was reported in the Daily Mail and brought to my attention by my lovely Mama (thank you!) how a man on a nine hour flight had ordered a gluten free meal. He received one banana, whilst all the other passengers received a full English breakfast. I have experienced the exact same! On the ten hour flight back from Cuba all I got to eat was 3 small pots of melon and a side salad and on the way there if it hadn't of being for Mark's and Spencer's and stocking up there with salad & fruit I wouldn't have had anything to eat. As airlines have different meal categories; gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, full etc. You cannot select more than one category. Which is a nightmare for me as I need it to be vegan ( no dairy ), gluten, egg & wheat free and I can't even select gluten free and vegan.
This is only half of the issue however!
After going with vegan thinking I would be able to eat more of the food with it meaning no eggs and dairy would be in the dish. How wrong I was!
I received crackers with cream cheese.
Then for the afternoon tea which really took the biscuit quite frankly! The vegan, VEGAN meal was;
Cheese and pickle sandwiches, egg and cress sandwiches and then a red velvet cake & a brownie!! They even gave us a scone with CREAM.
Matthew of course ate all of my meal.
But it's actually quite scary and my Mum knows, when we are on trips I don't know what's for lunch or how long it will be and I can sense how hungry I am and begin panicking, getting dizzy. As you don't know what you will get ( if anything ) how long you have to wait for it or how long between. At airports they are stupidly strict with security with what you can bring through and try and make you purchase any goods in departures, which again is an issue because especially for myself who have many intolerances as many people do now a days, options are limited to little pots of fruit. We, unlike everyone else can't enjoy the full English breakfast's in the cafe, the pastries, the chocolate and sweets.
The man was quite rightly annoyed, he had paid £1,200 for that flight as everyone else had , not only is it a lot of money but having dietary requirements which we can't help shouldn't prevent us from not receiving the full service we have paid for.
I think airlines and their food companies also need to educate themselves on the different categories they are offering as at the moment it seems they really don't know what vegan means. If I received a dish full of ingredients it shouldn't have contained then do the gluten free dishes contain gluten?
Leading onto the next issue - restaurants and food outlets.
I am always raising the issue about restaurants and food outlets, because eating out is my favourite way to socialise.
However one of you approached me telling me the difficulties you are struggling with on this subject and I wanted to bring it up today as I think so many of you will be able to relate as I could/did.
Basically a young girl only 12 years of age, has been suffering from kidney stones and other health issues. She has been told to remove corn syrup from her diet, along with GMO's and processed chemicals. The poor girl is from America where corn syrup is literally in everything!! She came over here to stay with relatives & it was explained to me how difficult it was for the hosts as well as the girl. The poor girl had, had so many bad reactions from previous visits to outlets and restaurants where they had told her the food did not contain any of the ingredients she wasn't able to consume yet she would eat her dish and be extremely unwell. It has gotten to the point that if dining out is mentioned to her she begins shaking and having a panic attack. This meant her hosts who had kindly invited her and her family to stay with them now had to freshly cook every meal for an extra four people for seven days. After having work and or entertaining all day. Which put extra stress on the family. This is perfect evidence that it isn't just the sufferer's who are affected but everyone involved, especially the family. As people are worried about putting others out, extra work and stress all around.
The poor girl now has to take her own lunches to school where peers often make comments about what she is eating, she can't drink what they do and they question her food and drink choices. When it's hard enough that she can't have what they are eating. She get embarrassed and has started to isolate herself and not enjoy school or social events. She used to enjoy going to the cinema with friends but now always declines when invited because she can't eat the sweets, chocolate, popcorn or drink the fizzy drinks. So her friends have stopped asking her.
12, just 12! It is a tough age to be going through all this on top of puberty and just trying to find herself as a person.
Nobody deserves to have to go through these situtations and be treated this way.
Restaurants need educating and training! Chefs need to read labels carefully!! Life is too short and like myself people who do suffer whether it's with intolerances or allergens feel we are missing out on life because we can't take part or enjoy the pleasures that surround us; food from different cultures, eating out, friend trips etc. The effects on the person are damaging.
Which also incorporates mental health. It is also mental health awareness week and as perfectly shown above and as I know too well food allergies and intolerances often drive mental health issues to become a problem to the sufferer. As they begin isolating themselves, becoming depressed about missing out, missing foods and of course anxiety.
We should not have to experience the extra stress. We should not be missing out.
Transport & eating out are everyday activities. They shouldn't become such an issue that we cannot take part in them any longer.
Education, training and more care need to be taken!
Knowledge is power.
Yes it may mean businesses, companies, manufactures and restaurants have to take a little more time training, sourcing products, creating dishes and food but the difference it can make in my eyes far outweighs the extra time & money that may have to be made / spent.
So I urge these companies to stand up and face these ever growing issues.
I am so pleased and thankful to businesses and restaurants who are open to adapting and catering for us; Booths, Tesco, Morrisons and the Punchbowl at Churchtown being extremely open to catering for us, extending their ranges, actually preparing dishes as you have ordered, expanding and creating their own Free From ranges is all a brilliant step in the right direction. I congrat these businesses and companies on taking the leap to change and leading the way. Let's hope others begin to follow.
Thank you for reading,
If you have had any good or bad experiences with airlines, restaurants or food companies reach out.
Fighting together only makes us stronger and our voices louder!
We all deserve to live life to the full, be offered the same gifts & pleasures our world has to offer.
Enjoy a blessed day,
Love and peace