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Having food allergies is becoming more common in our society today. Chances are you have food allergies yourself or someone close to you has them. Although food allergies are becoming more common, I still feel as though there is a huge stigma attached to them. Navigating food allergies in a society that socially centers itself around food can become a daunting and challenging experience. As someone who at one point tested highly allergic to 86 out of 96 foods, I know first hand how it feels.

The 5 things people with food allergies would like you to know are:

  1. We are not on a “fad diet” or trying to be “trendy.”  First off, avoiding foods that make you sick is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. While there are so many diet labels out there today (paleo, vegan, keto, AIP, low histamine), the decision of what we allow and not allow in our bodies is very personal. Food allergies vary from person to person with different degrees of sensitivity. We are not just eliminating certain foods because “everyone else is.” We are eliminating them because our bodies have already communicated a solid “no thank you.”
  2. We are not trying to be difficult. When I was a waitress in college, I used to roll my eyes in annoyance when customers would make a ton of modifications to their food orders. Obviously I now have a completely different perspective. Those of us with food allergies wish we could eat at any restaurant, order straight off a menu, and not have to ask a million questions about food preparation. We are not trying to be difficult, just using every cautionary tool we can to prevent a cascade of unwanted symptoms.
  3. No, we can’t just have “a little bit” of that. We love and respect your efforts to make food to accommodate our needs so we can enjoy the party like everyone else. However, things like cross-contamination and mystery ingredients are just not worth the risk. We still love and appreciate you trying. Those that do not have food allergies may not understand that even the slightest crumb of a food allergen would leave us bedridden with symptoms lasting for days.
  4. Don’t judge our choice to bring our own food or not to eat at social gatherings.  See #3.
  5. Don’t stop inviting us out to eat.  I did have this happen to me on more than one occasion. I never realized how social food and drink was until I developed so many food allergies.Those of us with food allergies still want to be invited out to eat even if it means we sit there and watch you. We can still be social without having to eat anything. I know, shocking! My true friends make it work for me in any situation and I am grateful for that.

This post was created to provide a voice to those with food allergies and to hopefully break the stigma attached to them.

To all my fellow food allergy sufferers,

I see you. I understand you. You are not alone.