Living with Food Intolerance and Allergies

Living with Food Intolerance and Allergies

I LOVE FOOD! Yes, in all caps. I cook or bake probably 5-6 times a week. My freezer is filled with food I've even made for later, and I'm the first person friends and family call when they have some sort of cooking emergency, or need a recipe, or of course, want me to cook for some event or party.

Trust me when I say, it was a total blow to me when I found out I was lactose intolerant and then a few years later, that I had additional major digestive issues with eating certain foods for which I have to take medication every single day for the rest of my life. It does tend to make things a lot more difficult, and I get frustrated, and even angry about it sometimes, but you learn to deal. You have to sit there and be careful with what you eat because as much as someone else is like, you "should" enjoy or like this, you know if you partake in that one moment of temporary pleasure in eating something, you will regret it dearly.

Here are some things to remember when dealing with people you know have allergies or food intolerance or whom you become aware have them.

Living with Food Intolerance and Allergies

1. We're not making it up

The worst thing is when someone accuses us of making it up. I get it, some people do that stuff, but so what. That doesn't mean everyone is faking it, and so guess what, you shouldn't assume someone is faking when they say they have an allergy or intolerance. You can literally end up killing someone with severe allergies or putting them in the hospital. It isn't a game we're playing to try and make things difficult for you or to be picky about what we are eating. We have to deal with this and we don't have a choice in the matter.

2. Please don't constantly bring it up

It may be new to you, but it's not new to us. We know our allergies/intolerance. We don't need you to share with everyone or continuously make some huge deal out of it. Us telling you, is not to get some sort of pity party response from you. It's for informational purposes so perhaps you won't be offended or hurt by our lack of eating something you bring or prepare.

Living with Food Intolerance and Allergies

3. If you can't be bothered, tell us

Trussst when I say, we're used to having to fend for ourselves, a lot like vegetarians (except they have a choice, we don't). If you can't be bothered to make dietary changes in whatever meal you're serving to accommodate us or you simply don't know how, then by all means, kindly inform us that you'd like us to please bring some items that we can eat or that are safe to eat for us or you'd like us to pass on some education to you, about what we can eat.

4. Don't just flat out exclude us

Again, going back to number 3. We're used to having to fend for ourselves, however, it is extremely rude for you to prepare an entire meal with the aforementioned knowledge of our allergies/intolerance that you know we can't eat and not warn us or ask us to bring something we can or provide an alternative. (Obviously if you didn't know beforehand, you didn't know). You wouldn't do this to other guests, say if a guest didn't drink, you wouldn't say not provide at least some water as an alternative for them to drink. This is being a bad host, and a bad friend or family member.

5. Don't just assume, everyone with an allergy/intolerance is the same

Everyone always seems to think they are an expert on what you can and can't eat because they knew some person one time, or they have a cousin somewhere with "something similar." Even with the same exact allergy or intolerance as someone else, people's reactions to certain foods can vary. Some are a lot more sensitive than others to certain foods, some can flat out not even touch anything that's even touched the offending food, other can handle certain foods with the aid of medication. Just be respectful as with anything else. You don't need to again, bring all this attention to the person or person with the allergy or slap food away from them or constantly warn them about something unless they are unaware you've added the offending ingredients. They know what they can and cannot eat.

6. Do encourage the person and try extending a kindness to them

It is so nice to hear someone just encourage you when you're dealing with any kind of health situation. You are very lucky if you never have to deal with it yourself, but for those struggling and dealing with it everyday, it can be very hard, and you do deal with so many ranges of emotion about it. I remember going to a friend's wedding where she provided welcome bags for everyone with all these treats, and in mine she'd made sure that all were safe to eat. She didn't have to, but she did, and it made me feel so welcome and included that she'd thought of me in all her wedding planning without me saying a word. You don't have to go that far, but just being considerate and planning meals and restaurant outings on occasion that the person with allergies/intolerance can actually enjoy goes a really long way.


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  • This describes my life so well. Lol I have Celiac disease so I have to be gluten free and the main thing that annoys me is the people who automatically assume that I'm gluten free because of the "fad" diets that are so popular these days. So I always have to explain that I'm not gluten free by choice but because of my disease.

    I've also had people accuse me of faking it, like in your first point. Celiac is not technically an allergy, it's an autoimmune disease so most of the symptoms aren't visible on the outside (symptoms include inflamed intestines, migraines, joint/muscle pain, severe abdominal pain, nausea, etc.) so since it's a disease that you can't "see," some people don't take it seriously. So at this point, I've just accepted that I can't really eat anything that other people prepare so I've gotten used to making my own food to bring to social situations.

    I don't expect other people to make special accommodations for me. It just gets tiring when people constantly offer me food that I can't have, even though I've told them a hundred times about my disease.

    Anyway, you made some excellent points here. I hope more people read it and take it to heart. :)

    • My sister in law was Celiac's disease and whenever I'm with her, it's so nice to actually talk to someone who gets it. Going to her house, everything is okay to eat, and she's very respectful of other people's issues with food no matter what they are. It's tough, and I've seen her get sick, and it's like, if only people knew how much this is not a joke. You can't of course ever get that across to every single person, because some people will always just be jerks about it or think you're faking, but the ones you can reach and educate and who respect it, really do make a difference. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Yeah, absolutely. In my experience, people who really care about you will get it but for many others, if it doesn't affect them personally, they just won't fully understand. But yes, we should still try to educate and spread awareness. :)

  • This post is great! I've since grown out of my allergies but I remember when I was little, people assumed I couldn't even be in the same room as my allergens. In school my teachers made friends with pb&j, for example, sit 2 lunch tables away from me and then I had another teacher who was ruthlessly lecturing me whenever I turned down certain snack items. I never tested allergic to sesame seeds but I had always gotten violently ill whenever I ate them. I was about 9 at the time and I was starving so I asked the teacher if I could have a different snack. She told me that I was trying to get special treatment and that I could have what the other kids were having or nothing at all. I tried to explain that I was allergic but she pointed to my (known) allergy chart. I was 9 so I said whatever and ate the sesame seed covered pretzels. Within the hour I was projectile vomiting and that teacher was super sweet to me the rest of the year lol.

    • *grown out of most of my allergies.

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    • Soo true on all points! It's really shady how they pump up all of our foods with that crap and then say "it's necessary for your health". My parents were born in the Caribbean so I've visited several times. Pretty much everyone has several fruit trees in their yards and a lot of the meats sold at the town market are wild caught fish or home grown meat as you've mentioned. I used to think I was kind of strange for hating meat. I've found a lot of meat in the states to taste fleshy/gamey and it always makes me feel kind of sluggish and weighted down afterwards. When I ate meat from the Caribbean it tasted great and I felt fine afterwards, the fruits didn't irritate my mouth and I never picked up anything crazy. People in the Caribbean obviously take measures to clean their meat and ward of parasites and fungus on their vegetation but they don't need to make the food toxic in order to do so.

    • I don't think they'll bother with a proper study because when people get sick they'll get pushed into the medical and scientific market where they'll be charged through the nose to get run around in circles and then dietary consultants can point them towards "healthier alternatives" that are marketed as higher quality with less chemicals, preservatives, etc. And charged at a higher price because of that claim.. Meanwhile it's probably saturated in different and worse substances.

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