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19 Things People With Food Allergies Wish Their Parents Knew

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Most people first discover they have food allergies when they’re kids, so parents are often the first line of defense against allergies. While kids gradually take a more active role in managing their own allergies as they get older, parents are usually the ones taking charge at doctor’s appointments, buying the week’s groceries and cooking meals, especially while their kids are still young. So food allergies are a life-changing diagnosis for kids as well as parents — making it all the more important that parents understand what their kids are going through and how to best support them.

We asked our Mighty community members to share what they wish their own parents, and other parents, knew about their kids with food allergies. These now-adults living with food allergies reflected back on the things people should know that would make the kids (and grown-ups) with food allergies in their lives feel more supported. Knowing these 19 things can also keep your child safer!

And to all the parents out there who pour over nutrition labels and help make sure your child is protected from dangerous foods: Thank you.

Here’s what our community told us:

  1. “Cross contamination is a real thing. Just because you cook my meal separate from the rest, if you use the same spoons to serve it gets in my food.” — Skylar M.
  2. “Sometimes kids aren’t being picky! I’m allergic to tomatoes but my grandmother always forced me to eat them. My food allergies always disrupted my stomach for hours, it started with tomatoes when I was about 11. Just because I didn’t throw up or get hives she thought I was faking it. My mother never took me to get an allergy test so I didn’t learn the truth until I was 18. And recently I also learned that my grandmother was also allergic to tomatoes!” — Lisa H.
  3. “It’s frustrating. I developed my allergies later in life (mid-late teens). Having to alter your diet and having to explain yourself to everyone around you when you aren’t eating because you can’t eat what they’re eating is exhausting, especially when you have an anxiety disorder.” — Jordan H.
  4. “If [someone] gives my kid a food I’m allergic to (in my case oranges) it is [their] responsibility to clean their face and hands or I can’t touch them however much I want to. [They] are potentially putting me at risk by not doing this.” — Georgina W.
  5. “Ask questions and take the time to learn. I have a friend who took the time to not only learn my complicated diet restrictions but had it memorized. That took away a lot of stress whenever we got together and it meant a lot to me that she took that time and truly cared.” — Anna C.
  6. “I can never say enough how important support of family and friends is.” — Heather S.
  7. “I just want people to understand I’m not trying to be picky or cause them extra hassle when they’re cooking for me. I’m only trying to avoid triggering a reaction.” — Holly D.
  8. “Allergens are known by several different names and you must do your research in order to identify all names.” — Katelyn W.
  9. “Nothing worse than family and friends around you eating things you can’t eat!” — Sarah P.
  10. “We like when people ask questions, we want to inform others about food allergies, and not put anyone at risk of anaphylactic shock.” — Tiffany T.
  11. “Eating at new places can cause anxiety because you are worried about what is cooked there and whether it could possibly trigger an allergic reaction!” — Teghan I.
  12. “You can’t just eat around it/scrape it off/etc., and cross contamination kills! I’m highly allergic to MSG and the hardest part of that is the nine names it currently goes by on the market.” — Stephanie D.
  13. “I would like people to know how socially isolating it can be, and that I really am sick and tired of bringing it up whenever food is around. Sometimes there is no choice not to… I also really appreciate when someone takes thought to try and be inclusive, even if whatever was cooked is not actually safe for me to eat… Also, call people out when they say they have an allergy but it’s not real/food they don’t like. It makes it more difficult for those with medically necessary diets to get the help and information they need when out. Wait staff stop believing that allergies/celiac are real, and it puts people’s lives at risk.” — Stephanie P.
  14. “I have a severe gluten allergy. When ordering out, I just smile and tell the wait staff thank you. Then say something like: ‘It’s the real deal that I’m allergic, I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, everybody got on my bandwagon. Thank for having real options for me.’ Gets the server’s attention, puts them at ease, and I get a yummy meal.” — Colleen S.
  15. “I have an amazing support team! My family and friends all know about my severe raw onion allergy. When we go out they all order food without onions and they make sure all the staff knows about my allergy too. If there are problems they all speak up and protect me! There are a lot of people who just don’t care or refuse to take the time to learn.” — Vienna L.
  16. “When you still put our allergens in/on our meal, an ‘oh sorry’ isn’t going to fix it it! I already took three bites of this burger, and the chopped-up onions I asked you to leave out but ‘somehow’ got on there are now going to make me violently ill!” — Hillary T.
  17. “‘Cheating’ isn’t optional for us. Refraining from it because it keeps our health in check is a lot different than refusing it and splurging later.” — Heather H.
  18. “I’m terrified to eat anything that my mom or I don’t make. I do appreciate it if [people] ask what I can have, but don’t take it personally if I decline. I am allergic to so many things and something as little as a residue left in a bowl can make me very sick or give me anaphylaxis.” — Olivia R.
  19. “Thank you for watching out for me better than I watch out for me.” — Katrina C.
Originally published: November 27, 2018
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