Growing up I was generally a very shy kid no matter what it came to. This became challenging when I developed my food allergies. When I was really young, my parents would do all the talking for me in regards to telling people about my allergies. I was always afraid to tell friends, teachers, and waiters about my food allergies, sometimes because people would have weird reactions, but mainly because I was just simply shy. This was something that I really had to overcome as I grew up since I could not always rely on my parents for help.
My parents slowly encouraged me to speak up for myself and as I got older, I overcame my shyness. Not only did this encouragement benefit me in terms of my food allergies, but having allergies also taught me to be more confident and to stand up for what I need in many other aspects of my life.
Another thing that I have learned, mainly in childhood, that has carried with me is that you cannot rely on others to protect you. When I was young with food allergies, wherever I went I was like a bubble child. All of my teachers, family, and friends’ parents knew about my allergies and were in a sense, paranoid about them. As I got older, that bubble quickly burst and I was on my own to look after myself. I had to be the one to say that I was uncomfortable with something. Again, this was challenging for me because of my shyness, but I was gradually able to overcome these challenges.
Because of my allergies, I have gained many life lessons that have applied to many aspects of my life beyond my health condition. As I continue to grow, I gain more confidence in myself and push beyond my shy tendencies.
– Sara S.
Having spent my entire life with life-threatening food allergies, I have had a wide variety of experiences and encounters with people regarding my allergies. Sometimes you get people who are very understanding and knowledgeable about the topic – often they have a family member or a friend who also has allergies. However, time and time again you will come across individuals who are simply ignorant to what a food allergy is, which can lead to unpleasant encounters and difficult social situations.
Here are my top 5 tips to dealing with those who just don’t get it when it comes to food allergies!
- Try to see it from their point of view
It is very easy to get frustrated with people who don’t seem to understand your food allergies. In a time where food allergies are becoming increasingly prevalent it can be confusing to meet someone who doesn’t get it when you say you have life-threatening food allergies. Whenever this happens to me, I try to understand what their point of view is. Maybe they have never met someone with an allergy. They could be from another country where food allergies are very uncommon. It can help your understanding and feelings towards the situation if you can see their perspective.
- Don’t get upset about it
When it comes to my allergies, I can get quite defensive when people make ignorant comments. Having dealt with this many times growing up and going through school, sometimes I personally find that getting upset over it just isn’t worth ruining my day.
- Use it as a teaching opportunity
I always try to turn a negative situation into a positive one. When somebody makes an ignorant comment about my allergies, I try to educate them about what my allergies are and how serious they can be. Often times people simply are uninformed about the situation and if you take the time to explain it to them this can really help to change their perspective and attitude about allergies.
- Advocate for yourself
Often times the easiest way out of dealing with someone who is ignorant about food allergies is to just back away and not say anything. If you shy away from the situation it can only make things worse for you in the future and for others with allergies who may encounter the individual. Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself and let people know that your allergies are something to be taken seriously.
- Be open to tell your stories
When people are uninformed about food allergies it is usually because they have never known somebody with them or don’t really get what they are. If you are willing to share stories about how you live with allergies, this can often be a really eye opening experience for others and help them gain some understanding. Usually when you start to tell people about your allergies they will have lots of questions like “Have you ever had an allergic reaction? Have you used your auto injector before? What are you allergic to?” By sharing your experiences with them you can share so much information and help them become less ignorant.
– Lindsay S.