While we are all well aware of the physical effects food allergies have on so many people's lives, it is easy to over look the emotional and even social implications. Family gatherings, friendly meet-ups, and events more often than not revolve around food. But it isn't just the food allergic who are put in an awkward situation. Caring friends usually want to help, but when you don't live with something yourself, it can be hard to properly accomodate. Thinking of everything, as usual, the founder of Allergy Sense was happy to share with us her tips for friends of the food allergic community:
"It appears there are many misconceptions about food allergies and unless you live with them everyday, you may not be aware of many potential “triggers”. As a friend to someone who has food allergies, you need to be both understanding and accomodating. Remember, you friend didn’t choose to have food allergies he/she was either born with them or grew into them. Here are some tips/suggestions for non-allergic individuals to help minimize any uncomfortable situations:
- Include your allergic friend in the decision as to where to eat out – ask them for suggestions – (Conversely, if you are the allergic person, offer a suggestion if you are dining out – somewhere that you feel comfortable eating.)
- Understand that food allergies are serious and in many cases, cross contamination with the allergen may cause a serious allergic reaction
- If you are making a party at home, ask the allergic person to bring a dish that you feel would be very difficult to make allergy friendly (eg. pad thai) so that they can enjoy it knowing it is a safe food for them
- If you are unsure about a dish, ingredient or restaurant – ASK the food allergic person and remember what may be OK for one person with food allergies may not be OK for another one.
- Ask your friend to demonstrate how to use an epi-pen
- Don’t take food allergies lightly – they are a serious medical condition
- Having an open and honest dialogue will produce the best outcome for all individuals involved. You want to avoid an unplanned and uncomfortable situation and by preparing ahead of time, you will increase your chances of a successful event."
This information was reproduced with permissions from Allergy Sense.