Recently, I was invited to dinner at a fancy Chinese restaurant and as usual, I came prepared with a packed meal from home. The other guests were mostly people I’d never met before and as always, there was much curiosity about my food.
One exchange went like this:
“Are you on a diet?”
“No, I have food intolerances.”
“MSG, additivies, preservatives, colourings etc. among other things.”
“You’re not enjoying life to the fullest then!”
“I’d enjoy life even less if I was feeling sick!”
A perfect example of why there needs to be more public awareness and understanding of food sensitivities. The person obviously couldn’t understand that it was not that I had chosen to go on a diet because of say, excessive vanity, but that I was trying to avoid unpleasant food reactions.
I’ve also decided that on days when I have enough energy and am prepared for a verbal battle, I should stop sneaking my own food in restaurants and eateries which have a ‘No Outside Food’ rule, and talk to them about allowing me to eat my own food whilst I accompany my friends who are placing orders. This is one very important means of raising awareness and Singapore has a long way to go in this respect. Many F&B staff don’t seem to have ever encountered food sensitivities, give me an incredulous look. If I decide to take the risk to order something, I’ll ask ‘please tell me ALL the ingredients that are in this dish’ but many times they’ll either forget to mention even major ingredients (much less the seasonings and toppings), or have absolutely no clue what goes into the powder/liquid/packaged-something.
I’ll repeat the phrase – ‘take a risk’ :P. No thanks, most of the time, I’d rather play it safe, stick to my homemade food, stay well and enjoy life.