“Are your fries gluten-free?”
“Yes, they are!”
“No way! That’s great. Are you sure?”
The fries were not gluten-free.
This is my then, four-year-old daughter, Sophia, who ate an order of french fries from a profound restaurant just two hours prior, now exhausted in my lap after violently vomiting, seven times.
Her little arms gripped the toilet bowl, her body convulsed as she got sick, telling me, “This is the worst, Mama.”
I held her hair back and
my eyes out while telling her I’m so sorry this happened. #worstfeelingever
You see, I brought her gluten-free food to the restaurant and just decided to ask if the fries were gluten-free out of a whim. Once the server said, “Yes” and was even reassured they were- I was sold. I have to tell you though, a little voice inside me said, “Ask to talk to the chef, just to be sure.” #lessonlearned
After her reaction to ingesting gluten (about two hours), I contacted the restaurant via its Facebook page (because I was too upset to call). My message to the restaurant was to please be sure the waitstaff is educated in how the meals are prepared. Thank goodness Sophia’s reaction to gluten isn’t as severe as a peanut allergy… That would have been a whole different story.
The response back was immediate, apologetic, and sympathetic. The restaurant’s manager expressed her own son has food allergies so she understood why I was upset. She even invited us back for a guaranteed “gluten free” meal.
From this experience on, I always ask to speak to the chef or someone from the kitchen when we are out for a meal, which is rare.
“How is the food prepared?”
“Are separate utensils used?”
“Is her meal prepared in a separate location or on a separate grill?”
Yes, I get eye-rolls and looks as if I’m speaking a different language.
However, just like any mama would do for her child, I double, triple, check with the appropriate people because my daughter’s health is at risk.
Sophia has celiac disease and was diagnosed with this autoimmune disease when she was two-and-half years old. This is something she will never..
She needs to eat a gluten-free diet for the rest of her life and even just a bit of gluten or cross contamination can set her off into severe vomiting spell.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.” Without proper nutrients, she will not develop or thrive.”
May is celiac disease awareness month. Like any other mamas of children who have this disease, we are #sorrybutnotsorry for asking 1,000 questions when it comes to ordering a meal, attending a birthday party, or even school for the first time. Although it’s not nearly as severe as other diseases/allergies, restaurant owners/food providers need to be educated in the meals they offer and prepare. I beg those in the food industry to please understand eating “gluten-free” isn’t a “fad” or a trendy diet. My daughter’s life, and others, actually depend on it.
I am happy to say that Sophia hasn’t had a gluten “episode” in the past 10 months. I will continue to be that annoying mama, asking multiple questions to ensure my daughter continues to eat gluten-free so she’ll be a healthy and thriving little girl.