I didn't start this blog to change restaurants. Progress has been wonderful since my diagnosis in 2000. Would I like to be able to walk into any restaurant and eat safely? Of course. Do I expect it to happen? No. Do I want every restaurant to try? NO!! If a restaurant is devoted to the education and training - hats off to you! Thank you! You get my business. If a restaurant doesn't want to go to that effort, that's fine too - I can respect that. Just PLEASE don't say you have gluten free options if you don't really know how to truly keep my food safe.
Where do we truly need gluten free respect? Schools and Hospitals!
Our kids need and deserve to be treated equally and fairly. Nope - it won't be possible to change all school cafeterias to be gluten free or allergen free. But education is required. Pre-planning is required. No child should have to look on with an empty napkin while everyone else enjoys a birthday cupcake or a slice of ooey gooey cheesey pizza. It absolutely breaks my heart when this happens!
And it truly pisses me off that too many hospitals cannot get it right! Of course, too often, we don't realize the true impact of something until we experience it first hand. Thank God my son's reaction to gluten was/is not one that many face (having to run to the bathroom, stomach aches, or even vomiting.) He was in the hospital and then in rehab after a very serious car accident. And a week and a half into his hospital stay, when he could finally eat, it was a disgrace! And then in rehab, it was no better. They even gave him gluten! This process was included in my book about his inspirational (complete!) recovery. The link is on the 'books' page.
How often does this happen? Will you be safe if you have to go to the hospital? Will you be fed gluten free meals? What if any of us need to go to a nursing home? How do we prepare if we know we will be staying in a hospital for a period of time? Who do we contact? What questions do we ask?
I hope to find some of these answers when I start my journey into contacting some hospitals on asking how they accommodate special diets.
P.S. If my focus is more on schools and hospitals (and to heck with the rest), why did I get upset for the way a television show handled gluten free recently as I shared in this post? That particular show was addressing the needs of children who had special needs. One of these children required a gluten free diet. The contradiction in the way it was handled hit a nerve for me. I usually applauded their representation of real life journeys - but this lacked education where it is greatly needed. It hit a soft spot - the need to benefit children (and instead I felt it went the opposite direction.)