Hands off my food!!!

When we asked Ruth and Sue to contribute an allergy diary and a coeliac’s diary to our websites it was very much with the idea of giving those of us who are lucky enough not to have to live with either life threatening allergies or coeliac disease a window onto what it was like if you did!

Both have been brilliant and not only given us lots of information but a real insight onto some of their daily frustrations. But it was Sue’s most recent post – which some of you may already have read – which not only hit the frustration nail on the head, but evoked and sympathetic outburst from Ruth. So, for those of you who don’t get the newsletter:

From Sue:

Share my food? No way…

corn-thinsI’m simply incapable of sharing with good grace.

Or indeed any grace, come to that. Sometimes
I wonder if having coeliac disease has made me more selfish, or if I was always going to turn out mean.

Take me out of the house for a while and my only concern is whether there’ll be any food. I try to hide it, but however exciting and wonderful the day promises to be, I always harbour a nagging fear I won’t get anything to eat. And quite often, unless I take my own food, I don’t, which brings me to the alien concept of voluntarily sharing it with anyone else.

If I work away I always take a big bag of emergency supplies with me. Feeling I ought to share them is not usually a problem that arises in the UK, as colleagues look on corn thins as insulation material rather than a source of carbohydrates, but having been up since dawn with nothing to eat on an uninhabited island off the African coast, even foods previously perceived as unattractive can acquire a sudden desirability.

So sharing food can become a bit of a thorny issue, particularly if we’re somewhere remote and I’ve taken a bag of emergency provisions to last me the job.

I went away last year with 68 corn thins (calculated at 4 per day, with 8 for flight days and 4 spares, just in case), a few snack bars and some packets of almonds and apricots, and I didn’t fancy handing them out in the back of the car when the hulking great junk-food addicts were all feeling a bit peckish after their bag of biscuits had run out, especially as I knew they’d be chucked out of the window as soon as anything better turned up.

Thus, although in theory I’m committed to the concept of sharing, and love nothing more than the idea of a big communal meal, in real life I don’t really like doing it. In practice it never quite works out. I suppose it’s a bit like being a veggie, going out for supper and finding all the carnivores want the meat AND the veggie option too. A bit like that, but not quite, as you can choose whether you’re vegetarian or not.

And of course I blame CD entirely for my occasional catastrophic lack of manners, even downright rudeness. Last year I met a long-lost relative for coffee, spotted a gluten-free cake on the counter, bought it, sat down and had eaten it before I’d realized I hadn’t even thought to get him anything. It was only when I put my fork down and saw him looking at me I realised what I’d done. You see mostly I don’t care about other people and their food. Which might be just as well, because I often get the impression the feeling’s mutual.

From Ruth:

I am completely the same. I don’t care two hoots about anyone else’s food, and I certainly won’t share. No way. I find it really hard to come home and find my gluten free bread gone, only to have the stealer complain it was awful! Who would buy this stuff? Me!

And the contamination of marmalade is one of my biggest bug bears. My favourite lime marmalade, only just opened, fell foul of one of those incapable of using the spoon. Same with the hummus. Home made and now ruined by your butter, knife or breadstick.

I am that child who will not share the toy. No way. Not happening. The oat cakes are mine and the dairy free chocolate? You can starve. And no you most definitely cannot share my bottle of water you allergen guzzling people you!


  1. Ha, this made me laugh. My constant refrain is ‘no, gerrof, you can eat anything! Micki doesn’t share food.’ Joey from Friends reference there.

  2. I love this post purely for the relief and comfort it gives me that I am not the only one feeling this way. Not only am I this way about my own food but even more so about my sons food. At 3 years old I want him to feel included and reassured that what he is eating is as good, if not better than everyones elses, I will quite happily create cupcakes or sandwiches for a whole group of children if it stops him being excluded. I will even mastermind a recipe his whole preschool can make at school to promote allergy friendly behaviour.

    The downside is the green eyed monster in me who is jealous of the choice that non allergy or coeliac people take for granted often promotes a security net that even Gollum would be proud of! I have made sure we have enough food to not only prevent us being hungry but to also cover every eventuality that may arise even the most unlikely! To share these provisions would need an extremely good reason x

  3. It reminds me of a country walk with my family, brother and sister and all the neices and nephews. They all got hungry and who do you think had lots of allergy friendly snacks in the rucksack? Who had the only bottle of water? “Could the kids have a biscuit?” “Do you mind?” Yes I blooming well do… but how could I refuse? My own stupidity for owning up to the picnic in my bag and offering to share but this hurt me badly. I was so annoyed with these children who would eat half and not want the rest, and so a sizeable chunk of my survival rations were gone. Just like that. My water now swimming with wash-back! I know it’s unreasonable to feel like this. I know I should never blame the kids. But when we get back to the house and find all the humous gone, that was the final straw. Of course I behaved impeccably throughout but inside I was screaming, “CARRY OUR OWN RUCKSACKS FULL OF SNACKS AND KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY HUMOUS!” (kind of hoping my family don’t read this ;o) It is a valuable lesson for everyone out there who can eat what they want. Woe betide anyone who steals food from a coeliac or allergic person… you may live to regret it! Chances are we will be very nice about it but we will never forgive you ;o)

  4. I would like to add that I am happy to share my snacks with anyone truly in need. If I ‘offer’ you anything from my stash you are completely free to accept without fear or reprisals. I often carry too much so don’t now be all thinking, “Oh god she offered me some chocolate last week and I accepted it…” This is really for Lynne Regent of the Anaphylaxis Campaign who I shared oat cakes and dried fruit with last week at EAACI, but she had gone all day without any lunch or snacks and needed sustenance and didn’t ask so she needed food. I was happy to share. It was also the last day and I had loads left for the ‘flight home picnic’.

  5. Actually, Ruth – I think you should not have been so nice and behaved so impeccably! I think you should have said ‘no – you can’t have my snacks – because if you do I won’t have anything to eat for the next three days!!! Just go hungry – tough – should ache thought about it before!!’

    Sorry – I know I am not in a place to preach because I do not need to do it (so therefore do not feel ‘no, I really cannot face going through all the explanations yet again’….) – but how will those kids ever learn otherwise? And even if they don’t learn, maybe their parents might take it on board. So I really hope that your family do read that post!!!

  6. Of course offering food is different 😉 If I have made something that I am quite proud of I want to share it with others, especially if it proves my freefrom food tastes just as good as other peoples “normal” food.

    Once you are out of your house it becomes a different matter. You are less able and highly unlikely to find food that you can buy and eat if you get hungry. I always imagine I may get stuck in a traffic jam or the car will break down. Then I would really need the whole days worth of food I take out for me and little one on every trip out the house 😉

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