Gluten Free at the Office

Well, I don’t want to jinx it but after heavily medicating for the past few days I think I have finally cleared the proverbial sickness hump and appear to FINALLY be on the mend.  This is a very good thing as tomorrow GFM will be taking part in my agency’s community service day and yours truly will be working at a local animal shelter with cats  and dogs.  So what does this have to to with living gluten free you might ask?  A lot actually.

Social situations, particularly when work is involved can be a bit tricky to navigate.  Now my firm knows all about my allergies and is actually very sensitive to them.  When we have parties or events someone always makes sure there is at least 1) something I can eat and 2) a very low likelihood that I will die from my shellfish allergy.  How do they know about my allergies – I told them.  I also took the time to explain what I can and cannot eat and why.  You don’t want to be a pain in the you know what but allergies are quite a different animal.  Now you don’t want to be the annoying, whiner of your office so be tactful in your approach.  Also, don’t be demanding.  I never made a huge dramatic deal with the poor me mentality but rather took opportunities that presented themselves to help educate my colleagues not only about my gluten allergies but how to administer my Epi-Pen should I come in contact with shellfish.  Now when colleagues plan events, the often run menu choice by me to make sure I will be able to enjoy the food.  They also always ask Where is your Epi-Pen when we are socializing – just in case.  I happen to work at a job and company that I love but also feel a proactive approach goes a very long way.

My client-base consists exclusively of billion dollar iconic brand which I will not name, but you know all of them.  Some are food and beverage related and when presenting to or interacting with the clients I am also very upfront about my allergies – when there are tons of client products on a table for a meeting and everyone is noshing you don’t want them to think you are not indulging because you don’t like their products.

I have also been presently surprised when attending high profile dinner like award ceremonies where menu choices are normally not even an option.  Recently, at a major venue here in New York that I was attending I declined a starter (because it had gluten in it) which prompted the maître d’ to ask why and when I explained he came up with 2 options that they could happily offer, same with the main course.  I normally just eat before events because it is often easier but it was nice to know that food allergies are being taken seriously – and this was a very large scale event so the fact that they could do this was appreciated.  At the same event there was two dessert options  one clearly had gluten but the other looked safe from the outside so I swapped with a colleague.  Alas, the safe one turned out to, in fact, be full of cake which I noticed only after chewing my first bite.  So what to do?  I only took a small bite for starters (a good tip) so I every so gracefully took my napkin and well, disposed of the bite.  Gross, absolutely not.  If you are graceful no one will ever be the wiser.  I didn’t make a scene or panic – nor was they any chance in hell I would be swallowing that bite.

The takeaway is to do what you have to do, be smart, be relaxed, be fabulous and no one will every be the wiser when little problems arise.

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