By Henry Ehrlich
Fans of Dr. Gregory House will recognize that phrase. Dr. House used it to justify his attitude that patients are not their own best witnesses in providing doctors the information they need to make complicated diagnoses and that extraordinary measures must be taken to find out the truth. But what about doctors who recommend that patients lie for their own convenience? A couple of years ago, we had an item about the TV show “The Doctors”, in which one of the panel recommended that fat-conscious viewers tell waiters that they were allergic to butter to get them to keep it out of their food.
My friend Jennifer Burch just passed along a link to the website of a California physician, Dr. John McDougall, who recommends crying anaphylaxis about vegetable oils among many other ingredients not on your diet when you just have to drag yourself away from the safety of your own kitchen and place yourself at the mercy of restaurant chefs. In the estimation of this physician, no one is safe from evil chefs—including nominally vegan ones—who will stoop to virtually any means to make their food taste better. This flippant little presentation has to be seen to be believed.
Exhortation to lying is, of course, the grossest disservice to those with real food allergies and real food intolerances. It is also an insult to those in the restaurant business who go out of their way to accommodate the food allergic, like my son, who once was told by a customer not to serve her food with toast, as described on the menu, but bread was okay because she was only allergic to toast. Another was “allergic to capers.”
I can’t improve on Jen’s complaint to the California medical board:
As a mother of a child with multiple, diagnosed food allergies, this practice from a medical professional greatly concerns me. First, this is a medical professional who is promoting the practice of lying. I have always believed physicians to be held to a higher standard than that. With statements like those made by Mr. McDougall, I will find myself questioning their ethics now. How do I trust them now? Secondly, and probably more importantly, this practice has a strong potential of undermining the hard work that so many of us put into educating the public on the threats of food allergies. It has such strong potential to discredit the future claims of diners with real food allergies and put them in danger due to lax practices that restaurants may revert to.
Graphic by coverageink.blogspot.com
Henry, thank you for addressing this situation. I heard about but haven’t had the chance to read about it.
Is there a way for us to reasonably track the out come?
I’ve written about this as well (and it’s been quite a conversation). You can see my post at http://scratchorsniff.com/claiming-food-allergies-not-all-liars/.
Thankful for the work you do!