We are in week 11 of our series Living with Food Allergies. If you’ve missed any of the posts, click on the link or click on the image in the sidebar. For the next couple of weeks we’re tackling the issues that often arise in our relationships with non-allergy family and friends.
What I Wish I Knew…..
Treat other’s ignorance with kind words and cool head, while refusing their food.
As food allergy sufferers/cooks, we know the dangers that lurk around every corner. Non-allergy people simply do not understand. They don’t. It’s no different than I not understanding the dangers that lurk around every corner for other health issues, like diabetes or illnesses of compromised immune systems. Because non-allergy people do not understand the complexities, we must approach and deal with them in a courteous and loving manner, while remaining firm for safety’s sake.
There are several steps to the process of dealing with those who are unfamiliar with food allergies. We will hit on these steps over the next couple of weeks. The first step, however, is dealing with the immediate issue of when someone is offended at your refusal of their food. The other steps are more time consuming for you as a food allergy advocate and them as an “outsider”. If you’re in the situation where you have to deal with someone’s offense of your refusal, you must act immediately and deal with the educating when you have a little more time.
How to respond to a food allergy “outsider’s” offense to your food refusal:
- Politely state that their food will or could make you (or your child) sick if eaten. Hopefully that will be the easy solution. If not…
- Quickly explain that you have allergies to ___________ (fill in the blank). If you eat this dish, you will have an allergic reaction. Sometimes people can be stubborn, if so….
- In a little more detail, say that you cannot eat __________ (fill in the blank) because you are allergic to it. If you eat it, you will react with _______________ (fill in the blank with specific allergic reaction symptoms). You never know when the first three attempts won’t work. In this case…
- RUN!!! (No, I’m kidding.) Politely state that you will not eat the food because it will make you very sick and possibly cause death. While the dish looks delicious, eating it is not worth the risk. Thank the host kindly and move along. Finally….
- As an absolute last resort, you may have to remove yourself from the situation altogether. In most cases, it should not come to that extreme, but be prepared, stay calm, and try to be polite. I don’t think any of you will be in the situation where the food is shoved in your mouth, so you don’t need to worry.
As with most cases, kind words and a cool head can go a long way to smooth over any ruffled feathers. Use them!
We’ll move on to educating others about food allergies next week. There is much to be covered on that topic, so I’ll try to split up and make it as concise as possible.
Have you offended others by refusing their unsafe food? How did you deal with it?