I recently organised 40 of my mother’s friends to gather for her birthday celebration. There was one person with an allergy, and one who was a vegetarian. If I gathered 40 of my friends our dietary requirements and preferences would be diverse and complicated.
Meet my friend Agnes, who has been learning manage her diet, hospitality, and ensuing social interactions.
What is a book or tv show you enjoyed in primary school?Why did you like it?
I loved to read the Secret Garden. I think I loved that she had a secret world away from everything that she could work on and make beautiful 🙂
Give us a quick overview of the details in your life event?
Having had chronic health issues for more than ten years, twelve months ago I discovered significant intolerances to certain naturally occurring chemicals in food (Salicylates, Amines and Glutamates). This has led to a significant improvement in day to day health; however it has led to a strict diet that means that it is very hard to eat out or eat something someone else has prepared.
What’s it like?
I have really gone through the full extent of the grief cycle. I know it seems crazy to grieve for the food you can’t eat…but I was a foodie! So it has been an emotional year: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. However, I am still on this cycle and still experience all of these feelings at various times. Overall, I try to live in the acceptance camp. But it isn’t easy. I have been frustrated and tried to figure out any way out of it. How to fix it. Mostly I have been depressed by it. I am trying to recognise that what I eat doesn’t define me. It shouldn’t fill an emotional hole. And that has actually been helpful, although being forced into it has meant that it has been extra frustrating.
What was a helpful thing someone did at that time?
Sat and let me cry about it. Designed a dinner party around foods I could eat without making it seem like it was a burden. Made me biscuits. Made me meals. Happily ate the food that I made and expressed enjoyment.
What was an unhelpful thing someone did at that time? Assumed it was a choice I was making, and tried to convince me not to make this choice.
What would you want the people around you to know?
I don’t want to be a burden, so I won’t ask you to cook for me. However, it is really hard to always be the person eating something different. There is just something about having someone prepare and meal and you all join in together to eat it. It is hard to always be the odd one out.
What ways could we love you in your present season?
Don’t always ask me about what it is like, although this is occasionally ok. I will probably tell you it’s fine and I’m much healthier etc. That is my way of trying to accept this. But if you can occasionally make a meal that I can share with you, or express happiness for me to make a meal for you that I can eat. That will go a long way to helping me not to feel alone.