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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:50 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2005 1:39 pm
Posts: 7
Location: Ontario, Canada
I get really annoyed when I am asked to participate in a dinner where the ones organizing it know about my allergies to eggs, nuts and peas and that I am diabetic and serve a meal I cannot eat.

I've been invited to people's homes where they know I have a restricted diet and serve a meal where I can't eat anything - "they forgot about my allergies". A few will quickly get something I can eat, but one once offered me "toast".

Another example is every Christmas, the company I work for holds a turkey dinner. There are about thirty of us there and I'm the only one with allergies. Here's the typical menu:

Three salads - two have mayonnaise and the one with regular salad dressing has crushed almonds in it (I learned that by accident when watching it being prepared).
Roast turkey (once done with a stuffing containing almonds).
Potatoes (done the ONE way I don't like them)
Vegetables - peas and carrots (I cannot eat anything cooked with peas so I can't just pick them out)
Fresh baked bread rolls - brushed with egg white.
Desert: Cakes and numerous cookies (all but the shortbread cookies contain eggs or nuts and the shortbreads are about 1/3 sugar) .

I've never been asked if I'd like them to set aside some salad before they put the nuts on, a couple of rolls before appkying the eggwhite, if there was any kind of cookie I liked, or throw in a potato to bake with the turkey.

I got fed up with it after a couple of years and don't participate anymore.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 8:55 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:47 am
Posts: 305
Location: Montreal, Canada
I never participate in anything that involves me eating out. I just don't take the chance. My boss understands, so does my coworkers.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:27 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:50 am
Posts: 205
Location: Canada
Arcon and youngvader;
Back before my ana to nitrates that was in 1989, I did work and went to the dinner. I had to pick through the meal and see what I could eat, like the potatoe. I did know the Cook which helped a lot. At least back then everything was plain. Now since nitrate reaction I do not eat out at all..My Husband is invited to Christmas meals and declines - one time he had a whole bunch and he caught me crying as it was the third in a week and I am eatting alone and Christmas was really close. He decided after that he would decline all the invites and says he does it to support me. Plus he had to leave one when they changed the meal and they brought out shellfish. I am too allergic to that and he was scaried that he may have some contact with it
So I really understand how you feel. I amazed though they did not have anything for a diabetic though.
Kelly


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 12:27 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 323
I feel like I'm missing something here... I don't miss out on parties and people getting together outside of restaurants anymore and I feel really comfortable in bringing my lunch everywhere I go... With time, I have scared enough people (my stories are good enough for the ones that didn't see me react) that they fully respect the no-fish, but I would not even dare to ask them for all the other 20 foods I have on my list as I don't react to the smell of them. I organized a surprise birthday party backstage after a concert last weekend and my friends served a cake I couldn't eat but I was there and spoke with everyone and enjoyed my night and I can say that no one noticed that I didn't have a stupid piece of cake in my hands ;).

Office parties, conferences, courses, everything that has a food portion of it I take my lunch and impose the no-fish policy which I have to say that has been respected everytime! Having worked in the food industry and having spoken to many caterers over the years, I have to say that as long as you tell them that you will not eat what they prepare, they will be happy and respect the one thing you don't want around... if you tell them you want to eat what they prepare, they are as lost as we were the first day we got diagnosed and didn't know the 20 names for milk or eggs!

Am I the only one that doesn't feel left out if I bring my lunch????


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 5:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
It depends---if I am with a group of people who know me and know about the allergies I'm okay with just bringing my lunch. But on some occasions I have felt awkward about the whole thing. If it is a formal occasion I bring my own food and explain to the organizers in advance. But sometimes there are work-related events (I'm a grad. student and a TA) that are sort of social...but sort of work-related where everyone goes out to a pub and orders food and drinks. I guess I just don't feel comfortable announcing that I'm not eating because I have food allergies. Without the explanation, I think some people wonder why I'm not eating....especially because I usually order tea rather than beer. (Tea is the closest I can get to a mind-altering drug :) )

I do find it irritating though that when I go to conferences where the conference fee covers some meals + attendance at the conference I pay the same as everyone else.

I'm concerned about job interviews---they are all day affairs and being taken out to dinner is considered to be part of the interview. Some people on some hiring committees might think that it is just weird not to be able to eat out and job interviews aren't the time to launch into an explanation about anaphylaxis. I once asked someone who is on such hiring committees about how to manage this, and he suggested that rather than saying that I can't eat out due to allergies I should say that until my allergist and I work out my diet I am not able to eat out. But that isn't true--and my allergist actually does not think it is necessary for me to avoid restaurants (but I beg to differ on this point!) If a person who knows me slightly and who is on hiring committees thinks it might seem odd not to eat out, I'm sure others will as well. I'll bring my own food, but ostensibly I'm supposed to be the invited guest (even though in reality I'll be on the hotseat.)


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2005 11:56 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:10 pm
Posts: 121
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Arcon . . . you say they've never offered to accomodate you, but have you *asked*? If you haven't asked, then I really think you *should*. After all, perhaps they feel you wouldn't eat the food even if they did try to accomodate you, simply because you might not trust their prepwork. You might fear cross-contamination. If you don't speak up for yourself, how can you be sure they're not thinking of you?

ygg

_________________
~*~*~ That which does not kill me only gives me hives. ~*~*~


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2005 4:37 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6479
Location: Ottawa
Mylene, I agree with you. We have taken our daughter to many places and brought her meal with us. Most people don't seem to mind.
For office parties I would suggest bringing a dish that you can share with others. Of course, you'd take your serving first to avoid contamination and not take a second helping.
Lisa
1. I hate that you have to pay the full fee for the course, have you tried to negotiate the terms? I also hate when companies offer food as a gift ei, Christmas Turkey I once asked my boss if he gave one to the vegetarian. (no, I didn't tell him who it was). At least back when they gave grocery store gift cerificates yu could get something you could eat.
2. While I comend you on your honesty, I think you should try to see these awkward situations as opprtunities to show how you can rise to the challenge an spin the situation. (I just haven't figured out how yet-give me time) Saying you and your allergist have not worked out your diet is not totally false as you are not in agreement.

It is true that much of our celebrations and socialisations revolve around food.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2005 7:48 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
Thanks, Susan.....I'll give your suggestion about the job interviews some thought. I still have another year of school so I will have some time to work this out.

About the conferences---I haven't been to lots of conferences, but I used to not want to say anything beyond making it clear that the organizers wouldn't have to order any food for me (and hoping that they might offer a discount). I would guess it would be tricky for them to figure out exactly how much of a discount should be offered because these conferences often are subsidized so the attendees don't pay the real costs anyways. Food is one cost, but I would imagine renting the building and flying invited speakers in would be much more expensive. And students already get a discount. But still, I think they should offer something especially since I not only don't get food that everyone else is getting but I have to pay for my own (so it's kind of like I'm paying twice).

I go to a small annual conference which I used to help organize that is not subsidized(ironically, one of my tasks was to order the food and deal with the caterers). Membership fees are what really pay for this conference so members who do not attend end up subsidizing the cost of other peoples' food. I thought of saying something, but the conference fee is minimal and the fee also covers the cost of bringing in speakers...so I didn't.

During the beginning of my 'allergy activist' phase I was on the organizing committee of one large conference, and there were a few lunches provided as well as muffins, etc. for coffee breaks. Since I was a volunteer, I got to go to the conference for free and I received a free ticket for a wine and cheese followed by a formal dinner (which wasn't included in the conference fees..people had to pay separately for this). I attended, but brought my own food .... in tupperware containers :lol: (I transferred the contents to a proper plate before eating, however. It was a bit awkward to manage because there wasn't a lot of elbow room and I had a whole bag of food underneath the table.) It's funny how difficult it is when one tries to change the program. That day I had to be at school for over 12 hours so I made arrangements to store my food in one of the caterer's fridges (which was filled to overflowing!) So far so good. But the person with whom I made the arrangements forgot about my lunch (she did have a lot to remember that day). The building was locked for the day and so she had to find someone with a key....I missed out on most of the socializing during the wine and cheese.

At one of the conference organizing meetings I did suggest that people with dietary restrictions who couldn't eat the food provided should not have to pay the same conference fees (conference fees for this conference were a bit steep but a bit more reasonable for students), but others disagreed. It was suggested that if it was an option not to pay for the lunches and coffee breaks then they'd have to stand guard over the muffin tables (or find some way of identifying who has paid and who has not). Also, as I mentioned before, I imagine it would be difficult to determine how much of a discount people should receive. Maybe more discussion would have followed if there was actually someone who was attending the conference who couldn't be accomodated---but as far as I could see I was the only one not eating any conference food and as I say I didn't have to pay for this conference anyways.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2005 10:25 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6479
Location: Ottawa
Well, it doesn't hurt to ask. Sometimes there are books for sale after the speakers have finished. It might be nice seeing as you have a medically recognised dietary restriction, that they give you a discount. I don't think they need to hover over the muffin tabe unless it's with a cell phone pre-programmed to 911. (I personally find that insulting but then I guess they can't be sure how many people might make up such a condition in order to save 10% :roll: )
I work for a health care provider. We have foot care clinics for Diabetics. A client once asked if she could have a discount as she had had a few toes amputated (due to Diabetes). She was told the fee was per client not per toe. :P
I've been thinking of your earlier post regarding business lunches/lunch interviews. In reading this last post I think if an interviewer saw the foresight, intitiative, perserverance, thoughtfullness, advanced planning and determination that you displayed in carrying it off, they woud be a fool not to hire you. I think that your difficult situation (is it a disability? what do we actually call it?) have given you some unique tools that you can carry over into the work world that will stand you in good stead.
I hope my daughter is as organised as you are when she is your age! :D


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2005 10:40 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 323
I have attended many conferences over the past 4 years for work (big and small). After talking to the organizers, the message to have everything fish free works. I never ask about a discount, but many organizers have offered a discount. They don't publically announce that there is a discount because they don't want to watch over the food, but they offer it on a one on one basis. They normally don't offer a discount when it's just coffee and muffins as it would be about 50 cents, but for full meals and many days, they normally offer a discount on their own without me asking.

Hope it works well for you.

Mylène


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:18 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 10:29 pm
Posts: 76
Location: Markham, Ontario
Well, I thought it had it down pat as far as my family and friends go. I've never had a problem... until last weekend.

My sister hosted her daughter's birthday party. I thought my sister of all people would "get it", but first she nearly gave my daughter a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios to play with. I just happened to overhear her tell my daughter what they were when I ran to the kitchen and said, "NO!". She looked at me and says, "Oh she's not going to eat them - she's going to play with them." (She was playing with a Cheerio book where you place Cheerios on certain parts of the pictures to make funny faces, animals, etc.) I shook my head and repeated, "NO!!!" and then my sister clued in. She felt awful, but still, I nearly had a heart attack.

After that I quizzed my sister and brother-in-law about possible nuts at the party and was relieved that they even went to an allergy-friendly bakery for the cake. Later as I was asking my daughter if she would like some salad, I looked down on her plate - AS I'M SERVING IT - to see CASHEWS in the salad!!! Cashews are by far her most severe allergy - ana, epi-pens, hospitals, IVs, etc. I looked at my sister in disbelief and asked, "ARE THERE NUTS IN THESE SALADS????" and she goes, "No, no nuts." I stared at my plate and said, "Are these cashews????" and she goes, "Oh yeah, only in that salad." OMG, I nearly fed it to my daughter.

After that, my sister felt horrible and I watched the food like a hawk. My poor little girl ate grapes and cheese while everyone else chowed down on chicken, cheeseburgers, ribs and other barbecue goodies. You'd think that was bad enough, right? When I got home I looked at the loot bags my sister had packed for us and they all contained full-sized "Cadbury's Fruit & Nut" chocolate bars! So that was Saturday.

On Sunday, we had lunch with our former babysitter. She watched my daughter for nearly two years, up until April when we switched to a Montessori school. I explained to her that we finally figured out what was causing the mysterious reactions (my daughter had had 2 ana reactions without a known cause when we switched to Montessori) and went over in great detail about the tree nut allergy. We had a great (nut-free) lunch and when we left, she gave my daughter a parting gift - a box of nut-filled chocolates! :roll:

It's like there was a bad moon hanging over our house this weekend. I'm just relieved nothing bad happened despite it all.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:07 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:47 am
Posts: 305
Location: Montreal, Canada
That's a dreaful story. You can never let your guard down, can you? It must have been a really stressfull week-end for you. How old is your daughter?


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 8:36 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
Thanks Susan and Mylene. Mylene, it's good to hear that some of the conference organizers were so accomodating.

Susan, thanks for the encouragement, and yes, I think allergies are sort of an invisible disability. It certainly feels disabling whenever I try to go anywhere! I sometimes feel like it is quite a feat to spend any length of time anywhere without having access to my own kitchen. In addition to things like egg and nuts and soy I have less severe allergies to potatoes, corn, and wheat..so basically, I can't buy any snacky food anywhere aside from those 100% fruit snacks..like 'Fruit to Go' bars. This past Saturday after packing my emergency meds, emergency hand sanitizer, emergency food, emergency sports water bottle, emergency compass and map (I have no sense of direction) it crossed my mind that I should also bring an umbrella since there was a chance of rain....but, no, I thought, I'm carrying so much stuff I absolutely *refuse* to bring an umbrella. Let it pour. What do I care. Luckily it only sprinkled a very little bit for about 30 seconds or so.

myfreckleface, I also find that some people have a tendency to forget about the allergies and/or not make the connection that not only does one have to avoid the allergen but one has to avoid the allergen when it is in other food! I don't know how to explain this one. Maybe people who aren't used to thinking about ingredients think about salad as simply salad and whether it has nuts in it or not doesn't really register. I find that people who are conscious of what they are actually eating for whatever reason---whether they are vegetarian or vegan, eat Kosher food, or are just really conscious of nutrition--get the allergy thing better. I now insist on reading all ingredients and/or recipes when eating at other peoples' homes. I don't even have to ask my friends who are good with the allergy issue--they don't want the responsibility of possibly making me ill so they ask me to read ingredient lists after they have checked it.[/code]


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:10 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 323
Some people do get it more than others... and some people just forget over time too if you don't remind them too often. I also found that people who tend to eat at restaurants instead of home cooking tend to not get what ingredients are... they don't have to add them to a food so they don't know what's in what...

On a good note, I went to see one of my friends tonight. She wouldn't let me inside the house as the veternerian had put her dog on a special diet for a week and just before I got there, she read the ingredients and there was fish in there! So we sat outside while her kid, husband and dog were inside :wink: . I would personnaly not have thought about dog food! I know cat eat fish as I always avoid cats and their bowl of food, but I never thought of reading dog food! Since their kid is allergic, these friends have become really good with allergies! (they started out not that good with allergies and they are currently catching up to me!)

Mylène


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:51 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6479
Location: Ottawa
Myfreckleface, it seems worse when family members don't get it. It feels like they are not caring enough. Try not to equate informed with love. Your sister was trying but obviously with the birthday party and all it was too much. I ony trust famiy and friends as far as I can watch them cook. A close friend to "gets it" had us over for dinner once and put a knob of butter in the pot of potatos. When I asked if I saw correctly, he realised what he'd done. As it was not in the recipe but added to keep the water from boiling over, he hadn't thought of it. Much ike salted water for pasta. :roll:

Personal almost screw-up this weekend. I took our daughter to visit ur close friends as she hadn't seen her friend in about a month and the mom (my friend) was sick with a cold. As we arrived a noon I purchased some 'safe' foods for dd and a tin of chicken noodle soup for my friend. As I stood in the checkout I read the ingredients to find that I contained red pepper-the one ingredient my friend was allergic too! :oops: I quickly went back to the shelf and chose a different chicken soup-a 'safe' one. (She had tod me the night before of a situation recently where her father almost fed her some too)

Lisa, I used to tell our daughter that she was much like Batman and his utility belt. Now I think she's more like a spaceman and his protective suit-compete with the umbilical like cord that connects him back to the ship. I like the Batman parallel best as I don't like to think of what might happen if the spacesuit gets a hole in it. :shock:


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