Annie Lane: Garlic allergy gets me gaslit

Published 9:50 pm Friday, September 23, 2022

Dear Annie: Over the years, my tolerance for garlic has gotten so bad that I have cut it out of my diet entirely. This is really hard because garlic is in everything. I try to explain to people that yes, this is real, and yes, it makes me very sick. There are even support groups on Facebook about this.

At church, I do not go to potlucks or other meals where I do not know what is in the food. Recently, they were having a catered meal. When I explained briefly that I could not attend due to this, I was told in a not so nice manner that the catered food did not include garlic. Normally, I would just let it drop, but this time, I told this person, “You have no idea what garlic is in. It can be in sauces or in other ingredients or as ‘other’ spices.”

Why would someone not just say “I am sorry that you cannot attend”? Why would they try to brush off the knowledge that I have acquired the hard way, by being sick? I don’t contest these people who have back issues and say, “Oh, it’s all in your head, walk it off.” It’s already discouraging enough to not be able to eat so many delicious foods. My grandchildren, bless them, will even read labels for me and say, “Sorry, Grandma, this has garlic” or, “Hooray, you can eat this!” Please let people know to be kind in their lack of knowledge! I love garlic, but it hates me!

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— Garlic Allergy

Dear Garlic Allergy: I’m sorry that your condition is being ignored by members of your community. This is common with things like food sensitivities and mental health — problems with symptoms that are largely invisible. Some people even experience this type of treatment from their doctors, a phenomenon known as “medical gaslighting.”

Surround yourself with people, such as your grandchildren, who are accepting and supportive of your dietary restrictions. If you wish to socialize more with members from your church, why not host a home-cooked, garlic-free meal? It will give them an opportunity to see just how serious you are about your garlic-free lifestyle.

• • •

Dear Annie: My husband passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Many very well-meaning friends would comment that “he’s not there” when I would answer questions about his declining health. Please advise your readers not to make that comment. My husband was still in there somewhere; maybe he couldn’t remember me or family members, and at the end he couldn’t talk … but until he stopped breathing, he was still there. We miss him, but know that we always acknowledged the man he had been. Thank you.

— Comment to Share

Dear Comment to Share: Thank you for your note. Oftentimes, people with the best of intentions can accidentally say the wrong thing. It’s hard to know what will help and what will hurt, especially to someone who is grieving, so it’s helpful that you offer your guidance.

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to