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How My Friends Have Supported Me in My Food Allergy Journey

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To my friends,

Thank you for wanting to learn more about my dietary restrictions. Thank you for not telling me it is all in my head or that I should eat more of my allergens and sensitivities to gain more of a tolerance. Thank you for not excluding me from group outings that involve food. Thank you for letting me choose the venue based on where I know I can eat. Thank you for asking me about my restrictions before eating your own food during class because you are unsure of the severity of my allergies and how I handle airborne allergens.

I am still relatively new to living with dietary restrictions. I am still trying to get a handle on everything. Just when I think I am living my best life, allergen and intolerance free, I have another episode — for lack of a better word. I have days when I have no idea what I ate, inhaled or touched through cross-contact that made me feel terrible. Your concern has made me tear up (and occasionally cry) because I feel so blessed to have friends who care as much as you.

I do not care if you accidentally ask me if I want to try a bite of your brownie or cookie. I care that you apologized for making the offer on accident, even when I can tell you asked without thinking. I thank you for showing enough concern for my health to genuinely apologize for potentially putting it at risk, even if on accident.

I have allergies to barley and malt that I discovered a little over a year ago. Through many talks with my allergist and lots of trial-and-error, we discovered my body is intolerant to the legume family (soy, peanuts, beans, lentils, etc.), has serious issues with gluten, does not tolerate seafood, and is sensitive to bananas and avocados.

I have always experienced general health and digestive issues. Five or six years ago, both began to decline even more. I had brushed off my discomfort and pain. Sometimes I still do. It is because of friends like you that I finally talked to a gastroenterologist about my gluten intolerance being more than just an intolerance or sensitivity. It is because of you that I can officially find out whether or not I have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that runs in my family.

Not everyone is as amazing as you. I have met too many people who have made me feel like I was overreacting and imagining my physical pain and discomfort. I have been “glutened” numerous times by waiters who do not know what gluten is or assume that I am ordering the gluten-free meal because of a fad despite warning them of my allergy.

You never made me feel “crazy.” You never questioned my reasoning aside from curiosity. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Your friend with chronic illness.

Photo by Johanna Dahlberg on Unsplash

Originally published: February 14, 2019
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