Tag Archives: safety

When a Colleague Has Food Allergies

A couple of months ago, I overheard a young lady and her colleague on the elevator, in a conversation that went something like this:

“Are you going to the pizza lunch?”

“Yes, I guess we have to. It’s mandatory.”

“Except for those people who asked for gluten-free.” She started shaking her head and continued, “Come on, it’s a free lunch.”

Ever since that conversation I still find myself shaking my head in disbelief that anyone could say something so unenlightened. Whether a person has an allergy, an intolerance, a medical condition, a dietary restriction or a preference, people’s food choices need to be respected. Period!

I suspect that the young lady in question probably does not have a family member with a food allergy or intolerance, for her to say that a lunch being free is a good reason to eat something that could pose an allergy risk.

In my case, wheat can turn my world completely upside down for about 24 hours. Imagine if you will, your absolute worst stomach flu, resulting in frequent, persistent, urgent and (please excuse the vulgarity) “explosive” trips to the washroom. Then add the sensation of something sharp painfully working its way through the digestive system.

By the time it has worked its way out of my system, some 24 hours later, exhaustion sets in, as well as a very uncharacteristic grouchiness, as I become cold, tired and hungry following the incident. And when life delivers a heavy dose of stress or anxiety on top of that, the intensity of the symptoms is magnified.

Without going into more crude details, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of how it feels. The experience is so unpleasant that the idea of consuming wheat, even in small amounts, is out of the question for me.

When it comes to my intolerance, I’m not looking for pity or praise in how I deal with it and I wouldn’t dream of imposing on anyone to go out of their way to make sure a wheat-free option is available. I understand that people are busy.

I look forward to the day that a solution to food intolerance is found. Life takes a lot more planning, food preparation and can become costly, when alternate products or ingredients cost two to three times more.

I definitely have an open mind when it comes to new theories and medical reports and I welcome any new information people forward to me (… except the ones that refer to food intolerance as a myth. Thanks anyway! My Charmin bill tells a different story.)

People who have food allergies are not trying to be dramatic or frivolous. For some, it is a matter of health and wellness. For others, it might be a matter of life and death.

We all have different body chemistries and different genetic predispositions. When it comes to food, one size does not fit all and people can’t help that. The lady in the elevator’s judgemental comment was out of line and inappropriate.

Anyone with food allergies already has a more challenging path in life between reading food labels, searching for safe recipes, preparing foods from scratch to guarantee their safety and being so vigilant to avoid unexpected or accidental sources. For some it means carrying an Epipen for the rest of their lives, just in case.

A little sensitivity is all we ask. If we politely decline an offer of free food, just go along with it.

To the friends, family and colleagues who have been so kind, generous, understanding and respectful in this regard, I offer you my heartfelt thanks.

The bottom line: Even if a lunch is free, the price I may have to pay for it afterward is not worth it.

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Filed under food, Health and Wellness, Misc blogs

Keeping the Christmas Tree Vertical (in the Presence of a Curious Cat)

The first Christmas after Ivy the Wonder Cat joined me, the same jitters that I felt before her adoption were back with a vengeance. This time, I was worried about how she would behave around the artificial Christmas tree.

Five months into our relationship, I already knew she was a good little kitty who didn’t have any predispositions to destructive behaviour. Nonetheless, she still had a strong curious streak which could make the tradition of keeping a Christmas tree upright a challenge. I had heard enough horror stories and seen enough videos to know just exactly what cats are capable of, in the presence of a bright, shiny “play structure” in the middle of the living room.

I turned to my panel of experts at the office who all offered fabulous, practical tips to keeping the tree and the cat safe (thanks again, everyone!) Plus, with experience, I added a few of my own ideas upon realizing that my cat was not only smart but fearless when it came to climbing the tree.

Here are some of the strategies I use to keep my Christmas tree vertical throughout the holiday season:

– For the first Christmas with Ivy, I kept my most cherished (and breakable) ornaments in a box, safely tucked away until I knew how she would behave. This took some of the fear and apprehension out of the experience.

– When I install the tree lights, I try to avoid the branches at the very bottom, within the reach of her paws. By avoiding those branches, not only is it safer for Ivy and the tree, I find that at human eye-level, the overall appearance of the tree is enhanced given the greater concentration of lights higher up. Continue reading


Filed under Cats, Christmas