Faking Food Allergies Backfires on Others

January 20, 2015

Do you often request allergy-free meals in restaurants, even though you are not technically allergic? Read on for the potential downsides to truly allergic consumers, resulting from the trendiness of eating allergy free.

Do you often request allergy-free meals in restaurants, even though you are not technically allergic? Do you think cutting common allergens like gluten will help you lose weight? Have you considered the potential ramifications for those who are truly allergic?

Because of the trendiness of avoiding certain foods, or choosing to eat “allergy free” for dieting purposes, restaurant staff, including waiters, waitresses and chefs become desensitized to the severity and importance of allergy-free living for those who are truly allergic, intolerant or celiac. This can result in a slew of complications for those who do in fact have food allergies.

To highlight the severity, those with celiac disease who consistently consume gluten (even in trace amounts, from shared cutting boards or some crumbs that accidentally got sprinkled on their food) can increase their chances of developing gastrointestinal cancer by a factor of 40 to 100 times that of the normal population. Furthermore, GI cancer or lymphoma develops in up to 15 percent of patients with untreated or refractory celiac disease. For these reasons it is essential for celiacs to follow a strict gluten-free diet, and for restaurants and those preparing food to take it seriously.

As a reminder, gluten intolerance due to celiac disease is entirely different from a gluten or wheat allergy. A food allergy is when the body produces a specific allergic reaction after eating a certain food. Itching is the most common reported food allergy, followed by nasal, gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms, which vary in severity depending on the individual. If you have a food allergy or intolerance, or are cooking for someone who does, it is important that you respect their requests, as the consequences can be life threatening.

Living with a food allergy can be difficult, so if you are interested in losing weight or eating “healthy” by avoiding certain foods, think twice before claiming you have food allergies. For some, gluten free may be the new trendy health kick, but celiacs will not be ditching this diet any time soon.

It’s also important to keep in mind that not only are many allergy friendly foods similar in calorie content to “regular” foods, often they have a different taste profile; and sometimes they are made with ingredients that are more highly refined thus digest more easily (causing spikes in blood sugar), than some of their whole grain, fiber rich counterparts. Allergy friendly foods are certainly improving (on the nutrition scale) and becoming more widely available, but clearly choosing allergy free foods as a diet or weight loss program may not give you the results you desire.

We at SupermarketGuru.com know that finding tasty gluten free foods can sometimes be difficult- but check our daily Phil’s Food Reviews which often include great gluten free options.

For those who do have true food allergies you will find SupermarketGuru’s Food Allergy Buddy Card to be very useful when dining out.