What Do People With Food Allergies Need Most??
What do people with food allergies need most? An Epipen! OK, seriously, what do they really need? They need us and our support and understanding! They need positive people who help them on this crazy journey. They did not pick this, food allergies picked them! They didn’t ask to be deathly allergic to food. They didn’t ask to have to carry an Epipen with them wherever they go. They just want to feel normal and accepted.
The people who are around us the most, such as coworkers, friends, families, and teachers make the most impact on allergic people. If you work with, go to school with, teach, or have a food allergic family member show them you care.
Here are some simple, little things you can do to help make them feel “normal” and included.
- Try not to talk negatively about food allergies or how much of a pain they are. Believe me… they already know
- Don’t say things like, “oh poor thing” or “It must be awful not to be able to eat ______, I couldn’t live without being able to have _______!” Yes, it sucks! No one wants to have to abide by special diet. Anyone who has ever tried any type of dieting knows that!
- Put forth a little effort. A little bit of effort goes a long way! Go out of your way to read labels and purchase or make something that is safe for them to eat.
- Understand the allergy is REAL. Just because you can’t see it does not mean it’s not VERY real and VERY deadly.
- If you are ever unsure of a food or ingredient, always ask. A food allergic person will never make you feel stupid for asking, in fact they will really appreciate you trying!
- Go out of your way to purchase a special snack or food that is safe. Allergic children will especially appreciate this
- Go over any foods that you plan on making with the allergic person or their parent to see if they are safe. It is extremely awkward to turn down something that was specially prepared if not 100% sure it’s safe.
- Last, always keep in mind that an allergic person or their parent is not trying to be difficult. They only have their best interest and health in mind.
If people are not supportive of your food restrictions, then maybe they are not worth being around. Unfortunately, my grandmother is like that. She claims she doesn’t “understand” my daughter’s life threatening peanut allergy. She will give her a bag of candy that includes Snickers and Reese’s. For Valentine’s Day she gave her a heart of candy she could not have, and that was clearly marked “contains peanuts”. If we go there for dinner, she will tell me that she doesn’t know if anything is safe for my daughter to eat. Can I bring safe foods with us? Sure. However, I feel that her carelessness and blatant disregard for her food allergy, shows that she is not willing to put forth any effort for her great-granddaughter. Therefore, I have stopped putting forth effort to see her. Is that the right attitude to have? Maybe not, but every family needs to decide how to handle their own situation. If you know someone like my grandmother, be sure to discuss the problem in private. Don’t let your allergic child see or hear anything negative related to their food allergy. You don’t want the child to feel they or their allergy is the cause of the problem.
Finally, no matter what, don’t let people bring you down. Always do what is right for you! Keeping yourself safe and healthy is more important than keeping others happy.
**Allergy Warrior Annie**