How Do You Handle People Who Don’t Take Food Allergies Seriously?

Tip # 29 for parents of allergic youth from Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Panel. Click here for the entire list.

“Prepare us to handle people who don’t take allergies seriously.  These situations unfortunately happen and are frustrating and difficult to deal with.”

A sad reality…no matter how prepared one is…a lack of compassion from the community can still come as a shock.

In my experience, it’s not just total strangers…friends, acquaintances, even family members can have moments when they ‘just don’t get it’.

When a total stranger or acquaintance makes a comment…I can usually dismiss it as ignorance and gently educate them on food allergies.

However, over the years, I have educated family members and friends about my boys’ food allergies so it does come as a shock when a family member or friend blatantly defies, disregards, and/or challenges us on the boys’ food allergies.  I find I become extremely protective, my guard goes up and my trust in them is challenged.

As disconcerting as it is to be centred you out over food allergies…I try to remember our food allergy lifestyle governs us to be vigilant at all times. Whereas, someone who does not live with food allergies may not fully understand all the complexities that a food allergy lifestyle entails.

A food allergy lifestyle is not a diet…it is a commitment.

A food allergy lifestyle is not a choice…it is necessary way of life.

A food allergy lifestyle is not to be taken as a personal insult…rather, it is a personal prescription that should be respected.

My advice to my boys’ with multiple food allergies when confronted by someone who does not fully comprehend food allergies:

1.  Trust yourselves.
2.  Trust your gut…do not worry about offending someone by not eating what they feel is free of your allergens.
3.  Trust the food allergy community’s research, statistics and educational support is there ready to back you up.
4.  Someone not willing to take your food allergies seriously…is someone not to take too seriously themselves.

How do you handle people who do not take food allergies seriously?

Resources from associations that support those of us living with food allergies:

Anaphylaxis Canada’s Resources
Why Risk It? Resources
Allergy Asthma and Information Association Links

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8 thoughts on “How Do You Handle People Who Don’t Take Food Allergies Seriously?

  1. Thank you sooooo much for posting about this!! This is a struggle I find even harder as a young adult. As a child I at least had my parents standing up for me….but now…it is up to me to face the poeple who think ‘its all in my head’…or ‘i should just eat somewhere else’. I still haven’t found a good way to discuss without getting angry, I have to just avoid the whole situation!

    • Taking the ‘high road’ by educating those who clearly misunderstand food allergies is not always easy but necessary if we want to get our message out. I too struggle. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

      • Thank you, thank you, thank you for these wise words. I am going to cut, paste and print them out to remind ourselves, and others if we ever feel the need. Very important message for those that simply do not quite understand the complexity of dealing with food allergies and the necessary steps we take.

      • You made my day! 🙂 It is a mantra that I must say over and over again in my head to give me the confidence to ‘stand up’ to those who question our food allergy lifestyle. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this post. I find this one of the hardest things about allergies and I’m only five months in at this point. It took a huge blowup between my mom and I for her to understand where I was coming from. I also had a close friend tell me that it would be fun to make a batch of dairy free brownies and a batch of regular brownies and then test me with them to see if it was “all in my head”. Things like that can be hurtful and that’s hard to people to understand.

    • Change of any kind can be hard…especially, when it comes to having to change one’s lifestyle due to food allergies. It is not only difficult on the person having to change their lifestyle but also on those around them. Give them time, educate them and hopefully they will learn to accept the decisions you need to make for your safety and your health. 🙂

  3. Thank you for this post! As someone who lives in the Philippines (where allergies are often dismissed as “something made up” or “just in my head” by most people), I often find comfort reading blogs by people who live abroad and are more accepting of the consequences of living with multiple allergies. Again, thank you to you and your family. 🙂

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