You may think that your quasi-gluten-sensitivity or dietary preference masquerading as an actual food allergy is tolerable when you’re out to dinner, but invented medical concerns can present a serious burden for restaurant workers — and a major health hazard for real allergy sufferers.
Fake food allergies create a “boy who cried wolf” effect. If 10 people ask for gluten-free everything during a dinner service, then when the 11th diner — who may actually suffer from Celiac Disease or some other equivalent — orders food, his or her dietary requests may not be taken as seriously. It’s a serious undertaking for a kitchen to accommodate someone who has a dangerous allergy, as even just a small morsel of the wrong ingredient could set off an allergic reaction.
“Faux food allergies are all the rage,” a recent column in OC Weekly reads. “People covet and collect theirs like Gucci handbags. So if you are truly allergic to something, please speak up: Everyone will do their best to accommodate your needs. But if you're playing that card to be coddled or to make yourself feel important, please knock it off or, better yet, stay home.”
One Reddit user who has a particularly potent shrimp allergy said that he will leave an establishment where staff members seem dismissive of his requests, but he will not do anything disruptive like asking a restaurant to change the oil in the fryer. Someone who actually has allergies will know what they can and cannot tolerate and will be able to give specific instructions (politely) to help out the staff.
Another Reddit user who worked at a restaurant seemed exasperated by fake requests:
“One lady made a huge fuss about how she was celiac and had to have everything cooked in new separate pans... Only to eat some of her boyfriend's brownie Sunday because ‘it is ok for her to have a little.’”
The bottom line is: If you don’t actually suffer from moderate to severe allergies, just ask (again, politely) for an ingredient substitution. The staff won’t want to spit in your food if you just ask to leave the tomatoes off.