It Is Not an Allergy

It is difficult to explain a food intolerance.

I cannot digest gluten. I am gluten intolerant. My gut does not produce the enzyme that breaks down the plant protein gluten that comes from wheat and its relatives, barley and rye.

Many people think this means I cannot eat dairy. Why do they think this? I tell them “I cannot eat bread or anything made from wheat.” They very often ask, “You can’t eat dairy?”

what? I am fine with dairy, in fact I thrive on it. My ancestry is mostly northern european, the people who depended on dairy more than any other people on Earth. I inherited all their dietary adaptations for dairy products. And their propensity for sunburn.

Intolerance is not an allergy. I am not allergic to gluten. I don’t carry an epi-pen for it. That’s not the problem.

Short of tattooing this information on my face, if I want people to know about it, I have to tell them. Sometimes if feels like I have to tell every person on Earth. Twice. Like explaining to people how your name is pronounced or spelled; it is yours to represent.

I guess my boundaries are wobbley right now. Because I don’t have to explain anything if I don’t want to.