Friday, July 04, 2008

Train the caterers!

Living out of a suitcase this week I've experienced varying treatment at the hands of caterers.

In fact, I've never come across a caterer who understands salicylate hypersensitivity. You are often asked about special dietary requirements - vegetarianism, which is entirely voluntary, they understand, and diabetes of course.

Nor have I ever come across a caterer who has sent a message back asking what to do. What I usually do is write some general advice when asked about "special dietary requirements" - it is usually ignored.

I will say something like "plain food, no sauces or herbs, fish is good as are bananas and chocolate." That will generally allow me to choose my own vegetables. On Monday night I sat down to eat at a conference centre and no provision had been made. As it happens the staff were good and made an effort.

I arrived home last night in a terrible state, even after taking Montelukast daily. The first thing I did was to make myself a zero-salicylate meal with fish, peas and carrots. I wasn't sure whether I could stomach any more fish - but it was okay.

On Wednesday night I had eaten my first commercial pizza for two years. I did so on the grounds that it was a fish pizza. It used just two herbs, organon and caper, along with copious quantities of tomato. I cannot remember all the species of sea-food it involved.

The previous night I had a Chinese. Everybody was eating a shared, set meal but I had a fish fillet with sweet corn separately. It looked disgusting on the plate. The problem with Chinese meals is you do not know what fats are being used to cook and what additives are being used.

So my original point: should we not start lobbying for catering colleges to teach about salicylate hypersensitivity? It does not seem to be that rare and is responsible, for far as I can tell, for a kind of asthma, for nasty skin diseases and a host of other conditions.


Anna said...

Hello, I have been having a quick read of your blog and noticed that you don't seem to have heard of the RPAH Allergy unit or Sue Dengates's 'FAILSAFE' diet.

They are the two best resources for people suffering from salicylate sensitivity. You certainly aren't alone!

I highly recommend that you get your hands on a copy of 'Friendly Food' (as mentioned on the RPAH website) and 'The Failsafe Cookbook' (details on Sue's website). They are both full of recipes and guidance on food intolerances - Sue's book is particularly good. No other book I have read has even come close to these two. There is also a support group list on Sue's website and I think (from memory) there is a group specific to UK residents which could be helpful for you.

I noticed from just reading your diet descriptions that you are inadvertently consuming a lot of salicylates and other food chemicals, which must be confusing for you. There is a lot of conflicting information on salicylate intolerance out there, as someone who has personally read/tested most of the advice, the two resources I have listed above are the most reliable and advanced by far.

This is my story (up to last year anyway...)

pf said...

Hi Anna
I think you may have missed the point of this posting. I've read your blog with interest (and checked out the Australian sites some time ago) and share many of your experiences.

The issue on this latest posting is how on earth you cope when you are not in a position to prepare your own meals and use fresh food. So what I'm trying to find out is what level of tolerance a combination of Montelukast and fish, rather than meat, creates.

I'm also peturbed that our caterers don't know about this problem or how to cater for it.

There's a lot here now but if you read on you'll find I enjoy some very pleasant zero-salicylate meals when cooking for myself!

Anna said...

Hi pf,

I wasn't actually referring to this post in particular - just passing on some general information resources as I noticed that you seem to be confused about salicylate levels in foods. For example, in this post:

"The first thing I did was to make myself a zero-salicylate meal with fish, peas and carrots."

Carrots are moderate in salicyates and the glutamates in peas can worsen a salicylate response.

pf said...

There are some variations between different lists of salicylate levels, reflecting so far as I can tell how few scientific studies have been done.

Most of my lists suggest carrots are very low and trial and error suggests to me they do not cause a problem.

The same with shelled peas. I would value your source for suggesting that glutamates aggravate problems as so far as I know only omega-6 oils do this.

I would be very, very reluctant to remove carrots from the diet without strong evidence - as the only orange and red fruit and veg we have access to seems to be carrot, red cabbage, papaya and possibly pomegranate. Do you know of any others?

Anna said...

Hi pf,

The RPAH and Sue Dengate are the only two people / groups who actually base their salicylate classifications off real scientific data (as opposed to data gathered from anecdotal evidence). It pretty much all based off the information from Anne Swain's thesis (done 20 years ago) where she measured the content of salicylate in various foods. You can find a copy of the original thesis on the RPAH website. A lot of other lists on the net are based on feingold's diet which has a lot of errors in it as it is based purely on anecdotal reports.

The two books I mentioned in my first post talk about glutamates and amines in conjunction with salicylates. I personally don't have a lot of problems with glutamates or amines by themselves but find that eating them in conjunction with salicylates can worsen a reaction.

I personally have a problem with carrots but am quite severly intolerant. I can eat them in limited quantities occasionally without too much of a response but avoid them if I have not been well. I find pumpkin (butternut) to be similar to carrot in my tolerance level and a nice change to add some variety.

I am not totally sure what you mean when you refer to 'papaya'. In Australia we generally use two terms: 'paw-paw' (aka 'yellow paw-paw') and 'papaya' (aka 'red paw-paw' or 'red papaya'). Paw-paw has a yellow flesh inside whereas papaya is more of an orangey-red flesh and smaller in average size. I personally eat paw-paw instead of papaya as it is a local food here and much cheaper and nicer.

Fresh beetroot and corn are occasional treats for me to add some variety but only when they come from the markets.

I find that ripe produce straight from farmer's markets is far superior to anything from the supermarket. I think it is because it's riper when picked so the salicylate content tends to have dropped.

pf said...

There are two kinds of papaya?!!

We seem to have the orangey kind in Britain although today I have just purchased a "giant" one. Could that be paw-paw?

Anna said...

From memory I think you tend to only get papaya's in the UK, although the fruit selection was always expanding and changing so I would imagine the odd paw-paw might pop up. I personally prefer paw-paw (or papaw as it is apparently officially called - tell that to everyone who writes the fruit signs here!) but you might find them a little bland as they taste best picked ripe off the tree and I would hazard a guess that any you can lay your hands on won't be locally grown.

Kat S. said...

I totally understand what you mean. I'm in our high school choir and spend alot of time on catered trips. However, when I write that my food needs to be salicylate-free, they do nothing, claiming that I have no proof to the fact that I have this allergy [since I lack the money to visit a doctor about my "possible" allergy.]
I hope our future president fixes the healthcare system, but idk what to do until then except to simply pass on foods I know to contain salicylate.

Hotels in indore said...

This blog impressed me and over exceeded my expectations. You know how to involve a reader and increase his curiosity to read more. Many congratulations!

Unknown said...

Police are yet to make any arrest in Friday's late night accidental death wherein a 22-year-old caterer was killed after a loaded gun went off accidentally at Ghoonghat marriage garden on Kesar Bagh road. To know more visit caterers in chennai