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