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9 Things Not to Feel Guilty About Doing When You Have Allergies

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I grew up having allergies. I was allergic to many foods and environmental things as a kid, but when I got a bit older, my allergies seemed to go away. About a year ago, I went to an allergist complaining of rashes and stomach problems. I left learning that I was allergic to over 30 types of food and almost 40 types of environmental allergies. I had to cut over 30 types of food out of my diet including dairy, wheat, tomatoes, and eggs.

It was hard at first. I felt a lot of guilt when it came to having my new allergies. I would end up not eating at people’s houses and I wouldn’t double-check food labels for fear that people would be annoyed. I even would let people convince me that if I ate just a little bit of something I was allergic to, I would be fine. I didn’t want people to be inconvenienced by my allergies. In return, my allergies continued to get worse. After a couple of months of a back and forth of feeling great when I didn’t have foods I was allergic to and then having something and getting sick, I realized I needed to stop feeling guilty. I couldn’t help that I had allergies and if I wanted to start feeling better, I had to stop worrying about how others reacted to my allergies.

Here are nine things not to feel guilty about when you have allergies.

1. Having an allergic reaction.

Allergic reactions can vary between mild to severe and life-threatening. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about or feel guilty for if it happens. It can be hard at first if you are just learning what you are allergic to and mistakes can happen. Make sure to take care of yourself and keep an epi-pen with you, if needed.

2. Bringing your own food to social events because of your food allergies.

In social gatherings, it can be hard to know if the food that will be provided is allergy-safe. It is also difficult to ask people what is in each dish, especially if you have more than one allergy. Never feel guilty about bringing your own food to social gatherings. I usually inform the host and tell them not to worry about me and I have my own food.

3. Ordering allergy-safe substitutions.

Don’t feel guilty about ordering substitutions when you go out to eat. Most chefs are willing to help provide allergy-safe substitutions. Fast-food places are now providing more allergy-friendly food and substitutions. Remember, you are paying for a meal and it’s important that you can enjoy it without worrying about a reaction.

4. Double-checking nutrition info on food labels to make sure they are allergy-safe.

Double-checking food labels is important when you have an allergy. However, it can seem rude to some. You don’t need to feel guilty or let others make you feel that way.

5. Saying no when people tell you, “A little bit won’t hurt.”

One of the hardest things about having allergies is when someone is offering you food that you are allergic to and they tell you, “A little bit won’t hurt.” No one knows your body but you. They don’t experience gut problems, allergic reactions, or any of the complications from eating something you are allergic to. Even if you are just “a little” allergic, it’s OK to tell people no. And you don’t have to tell them how the food affects you. Telling them you are allergic is enough.

6. Spending more money on food that is allergy safe.

It sucks that eating allergy-safe food can be more expensive. It can feel like your budget is being sucked into food. It can be even more frustrating being charged more for food when dining out, especially when someone else is buying the food. Know that you are not responsible nor are you in control of making the price for food or your allergies.

7. Eating a different meal than everyone else because of food allergies.

Sometimes we feel like we are inconveniencing others when we make special food for ourselves or order at a different place than what others are having. But don’t feel guilty advocating for yourself and making yourself different food.

8. Asking people not to wear strong scents that trigger your allergies.

Strong scents can be very harmful to some people with allergies. It can feel awkward asking people to not spray or wear strong scents around you. However, I’m sure others will also be thankful for not having to smell a strong perfume or cologne as they can also trigger headaches and migraines for many people.

9. Turning down side dishes/snacks people brought “just for you.”

Sometimes people will try to make special meals or offer snacks, however, if you aren’t sure what is in the meal it can be hard to accept the food. I usually tell them that while I’m mainly allergic to dairy and wheat, I’m also allergic to many other things, which can be hard if you aren’t able to double-check the ingredients yourself. It’s OK to turn down food that others make for you.

Do you ever feel guilty for having allergies? How do you respond to those who make you feel guilty?

Getty image by Grinvald.

Originally published: March 14, 2022
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