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What We Wish Everyone Knew About Food Allergies

Food Allergies and interactions with others can be hard on so many levels. Personally, professionally and with family we strive to be safe and hope to be supported with our journey with food allergies. It doesn’t always work out that way and we can be left feeling misunderstood, frustrated and lonely. 

If I could wave a magic wand, here are some key thoughts that I and many of those with allergies wish everyone could understand:

  1. Food allergies are a real medical condition.
  2. Food allergies can be life threatening.
  3. One mild reaction does not mean the next one will be the same.  At any time, we know a food allergy reaction can be severe.
  4. We are not overreacting or being overprotective when we try to put safeguards in place around an event or meal.  We are trying to avoid a reaction that could be severe and in the worst-case scenario lead to death.
  5. You do not need to ingest a food for an allergic reaction. Depending on the allergy, a reaction can be caused by an airborne transmission, from cross-contamination or touch.
  6. Allergens can be found in cleaning products, beauty products and pet products.
  7. We can feel isolated at times due to the constraints of our food allergies. It is always hard to miss or have to leave an event due to our allergies.
  8. Eggs are not dairy.
  9. You can be severely allergic to more than the top 8 allergens.  As many foods as there equals the potential to be allergic to them.
  10. We did not choose this but we are doing are best to cope with it.
  11. We have to think every day about food allergies. It can be overwhelming at times.
  12. “Just a little bit” is not ok for those with allergies.
  13. It takes a team to manage food allergies.  Please consider being part of our team.
  14. We would rather a restaurant be honest about if they can safely accommodate our allergy requirements.
  15. A food allergy is not a fad or new diet.
  16. You can develop new allergies or even develop allergies as an adult.
  17. We do not know exactly what causes food allergies and as of now there is no cure.
  18. We are not trying to be difficult when asking questions or even having to decline a social invitation due to food allergies. We want to accept but must put our or our loved ones’ health first.
  19. Being lactose intolerant is not the same as having a dairy allergy. 
  20. We are so thankful when someone cares enough to ask how they can help, include our child in an activity/celebration and be safe.  You make our day, week and even our year!

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