At least one in three adults with autism are experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support.
Hey folks, and welcome to my stop on the blog hop. This year’s theme is food, and I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about supporting friends and family with food intolerances or preferences.
Food allergies and intolerances are getting more airplay in today’s society. There are several in my extended family, and it’s really not that difficult to cater for them once you’re made aware. It’s easier to go out and find items on a restaurant menu than it ever has been before (whether the staff have been properly trained to understand what allergens are and how to prepare without cross-contamination is a different matter). But that doesn’t mean that friends and family are fully supportive.
I’m going to say it nice and loud so everyone can hear it: telling a vegetarian, vegan, coeliac, or anyone else with some sort of dietary restriction or allergy that they can have the lone salad on the menu is not supportive. It’s not okay. If the menu doesn’t allow for them to have options, consider choosing a different restaurant. If you’re cooking at home and don’t know what to prepare, ask. Or a simple internet search can provide a wealth of options.
Food preferences are also important. It’s not okay to know that someone doesn’t like, for example, mushrooms, but put them in a dish anyway because “they’ll never know.” What it comes down to is respect for your friend. Their preference might be completely arbitrary. It might be based on taste, texture, or sensory memory. Whatever the reason, they deserve to have their preference respected.
I mentioned earlier that I have relatives with dietary restrictions and preferences. They have genuinely been at family gatherings where someone will say, “I forgot you can’t/don’t have dairy/gluten/meat/seafood. I’m so sorry. There’s salad,” or “Crap, I forgot to pick up a dessert for you. I have some fresh fruit.” (Side note here: when everyone else is having cannoli or chocolate cake, fruit is not an acceptable dessert.) What the person with the food restriction hears is “I forgot about you. You’re not important. I don’t support you.” Hearing that over and over again, having friends and family repeatedly forget or ignore that you can’t eat dairy, that you’re a vegetarian, or that you don’t like the texture of certain foods can reinforce the feeling that you lack importance.
Show your friends and family that you love and support them. Make a special effort to remember their food intolerances and preferences, and then act on that—restaurant menus should offer multiple options for them, not just one, and meals prepared at home should take them into account.
Check out all the other stops on the hop here. There are some fabulous authors involved. And thanks as always to R.J. Scott for coordinating.
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Toby Harlow didn’t get to be the director of events for the second-largest theme park complex on the planet without dogged determination and attention to detail. And okay, sometimes he goes a little too far.
Like when he asked Chef Bruce Chandler to undergo a physical to prove he was fit and able enough to cater a celebrity wedding. He can’t really blame Chef for not wanting to take his calls anymore. But this wedding is a Big Deal, and Toby will do whatever it takes to get Chef on his side.
Even if it means cornering him in his own kitchen.