In my experience with explaining my food allergies to friends, I have come across some common themes in what I want them to understand. Here are some tips that might be helpful for those with food allergic friends.
- Become Trained in Using an Epi-Pen: A great way to alleviate some of the worry that comes with being around someone with a severe allergy is to be comfortable knowing what to do if they do have a reaction. This not only makes you more comfortable, but will make your friend safer too.
- Know the Rules: The rules they tell you for being around them are simply for their safety. People with allergies must live by certain rules that may seem arbitrary to others, but this is to keep ourselves safe so we can live normally. In caring for your friend, know that they don’t wish to be a burden and don’t make them feel like they are one.
- Depending on the type of food allergy, you might have to avoid cross-contamination if you frequently eat with this friend or hang out with them a lot.
- Ask the Specifics: Know how severe their allergy is and exactly what they can or cannot eat. Having as much information as possible will allow them to feel more comfortable, knowing that someone close to them knows the seriousness and specifics of their allergy.
- Be Open: Try foods that you might not have before with them. Eating nut-free or gluten-free can be interesting, even if you don’t have to on a daily basis.
- On the same note, try out some of their favorite restaurants. You might find a new favorite too!
- Simply Listen: People with food allergies mostly just want to be taken seriously and live safe lives. Being a true friend and providing that security as someone who understands and cares about their health is the best thing you can do.
With these steps, anyone can become a more understanding and knowledgeable member of the food allergy community.
Comment with your best tips for being a friend to those with allergies!