Monday, November 19, 2007

Please send a response!

I haven't poked around yet to see if any of you have posted this as well. Just in case, everyone needs to read this article and respond to the journalist (and even her editor.) She wrote an article printed in the Seattle Times about "Surviving the Holidays". She labeled different kinds of guests. One, "The Diva", included guests who eat vegan and gluten free diets. Yes. Because we have a choice. Her ignorance astounds me. That fact that her editor let this be published is even worse. Both the journalist and the newspaper need to be made aware that this attitude is unacceptable. Perhaps it is a matter of not being properly informed. But if that is the case, they have committed a major journalistic faux pas.

I just sent off this email:

Dear Ms. Tsong,

I was rather disturbed after reading your article regarding house guests and surviving the holidays. In the article you listed a handful of guest stereotypes. One in particular, The Diva, is grossly unfair and inaccurate. You have lumped together individuals who make excessive personal requests (fresh towels) with people who are on specialized medical diets. I can understand your frustration over a guest whose requests inconvenience you for no other reason than that they prefer things done a certain way. However, I cannot understand or accept that you would open your home to someone and then begrudge them that fact that, if they were to eat a certain kind of food, would be ill for the remainder of their visit.

The Gluten Free diet is not a fad diet. It is not something a person adopts by choice, but as a matter of medical necessity. For those of us who live with Celiac Disease (a genetic auto-immune disease that attacks the small intestines) a gluten free diet is THE ONLY course of treatment. We cannot pop a pill and eat your stuffing and pies. Would you vilify a guest who lives with peanut or lactose allergies? While they may have more immediate and outwardly visible reactions (vomiting, anaphylactic shock, etc.), a person with Celiac can have intestinal damage that may take 3-6 months to heal. This can occur from just one mouthful of gluten-filled food. This damage (and the resulting mal-absorption of nutrients) can lead to such long-term problems as bone density loss (osteopenia and osteoporosis) and lymphoma. Please do not diminish such serious health issue by referring to them as Diva tendencies. Not only is it rude, but it illuminates your ignorance on the topic.

Shannon Mueller
Celiac Disease
Gluten Free since Oct. '06

The journalist's contact information is listed at the bottom of the article. Let's see how large of a presesence we can make known!


jennsquared said...

Just want to let you know that I've also sent her an email about it. It is totally unfair to classify the people who are high maitanence comparing to someone who has medical dietary needs. Thanks for sharing the article and I hope the little something we did will change this person's view.

the nibbling marmot said...

Hello there,
I found your blog through Gluten Free Girl's site, and I enjoy your writing and love the letter that you wrote. People without allergies can be so clueless. GFers unite!
I have been gluten-free for about 5 years now, after my first symptoms started popping up, and it has been a wonderful life change for me. Thanks for writing.