Monday, August 2, 2010

What's the fuss

When having Japanese dinner with some friends, I refused to eat anything with brown sauce. Upon hearing about my gluten intolerance, they all showed sympathy. One of my friends at the dinner told me that she is allergic to abalone. When she discovered that the fried rice she was eating is an abalone fried rice. She just continued eating as her arm got red with rashes (immediate reaction of the abalone allergy). She ate her allergen food and scratched her allergy rashes at the same time. Allergy doesnt meant much to them.

People respect my choice but they don't understand the cruciality. I have other allergies as well and I usually ignore them and keep eating whatever I am allergic to. The consequence is just some itchy rashes that last an hour to a day or two. However Gluten intolerance is different from other allergies.

If you have celiac disease (a kind of gluten intolerance?), eating gluten (even a tiny bit) would damage your gut lining which takes months to heal. With damaged intestines, you become susceptible to allergy of other food, you cannot properly absorb other nutrients from food. Not to say other symtoms like tiredness, blood in stools, stomachache, etc. etc. It is not just itchiness or rashes that would come and go in a day. Imagine if your intestine is constantly damaaged with no time for recovery, I assume worse illness and disease would follows. BBC also stated that severe gluten allergy doubles the death rate. My reaction is not severe right now but I have no intention to ignore the message my body is giving me. The only solution found effective at the moment is a strict gluten-free diet. Not even food that has potentially touched flour.

The sad news is, we are surrounded by gluten, especially in Hong Kong: soy sauce, cookies, cakes, pasta, bread, muffins, noodles, cereal, sausages, blue cheese, sauces, MSG, chicken powder, beer, ale, mustard powder, salad dressings, chocolate, candies ..... Some food are inherently gluten-free but they have hidden gluten in the preservatives/thickener/flavour enhancher etc. added. The only way you can be certain is to read the label carefully, look for the word gluten free, cook from the most raw produce and avoid processed food of any kind.

I really truly appreciate my friends and family who try to understand and help. It is a frustration even to myself. So imagine those around me being affected. =)

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