If someone has never experienced the trauma of an allergic reaction and does not face the worry associated with managing dietary restrictions, then it may be difficult to fully understand strict avoidance. This can often cause frustration and hurt feelings for everyone involved, especially when dealing with family and friends.
Unfortunately, there is no “right way” to help others understand something or a diagnosis that they do not manage on a daily basis. What you can do however is educate – educate family members and friends and this will help improve the understanding of the severity of food allergies. Anyone who is in regular contact with someone with food allergies should be aware of both the mild and severe symptoms associated with an allergic reaction [Link to appropriate page]. In the event that you can’t act, they should be prepared to act for you. If they are not prepared to respond appropriately, think about whether or not they should be in a position of responsibility for the individual with food allergies. There are many myths and misconceptions about food allergies. Your family and friends may be some of those believing these myths as fact. The key is to address these misconceptions and inform them of the facts.
Even amongst those living with food allergies and within the medical community, there are numerous differences in the handling of food allergies. Each person must make the most appropriate decisions for their family and should make these decisions in consultation with their allergist. While we often lean on each other for support and advice, well-intended advice should be given without judgment and should not replace that of a medical professional.
Celebrations with friends and family are very special occasions. It is not always necessary to avoid celebratory or fun
events because of food allergies. Planning and preparation can make navigating
these situations easier for all involved.
Call the host(ess) prior to RSVPing to discuss the event and to make an informed decision on whether or not you feel comfortable to attend. Inform them about the allergies but do not expect them to make adjustments to their party plans. Ask about the event including the number of attendees, the agenda, when/where the food will be served and eaten, and what foods will be served.
If it seems that the food will be in a controlled
enough environment (food will not be served throughout the party and attendees
will not be running around with food allergens, for example), then you can
start making plans.
You can plan to make an allergy-safe food alternative
that matches what is being served at the event. For example, if the party
attendees will be eating pizza, you may be able to make an allergy-safe pizza
to bring with you. For some kids, however, this is not a necessary
accommodation to provide a “food swap” since they would much rather eat a favorite
safe food of their choice.Be sure to
check with the host(ess) about food storage if that will be necessary.
You can even make allergy-safe cake to bring with you.
Many people find it easiest to make cupcakes in advance and then freeze them to
be brought out especially for these occasions. If your child is particularly sensitive to the
fact that their foods/treats look different than what the other children are
eating, then be sure to ask the host(ess) what type of cake and frosting will
be served. This makes it a bit easier to provide the “safe dessert swap” to avoid feelings
If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately and follow up with a physician.