When someone has food allergies, their lives can seem limited. They must make serious dietary changes. They often can't eat out at restaurants, and they have to make sure no one in their work/ or school comes with their allergen. Most people don't realize that people with food allergies are sometimes limited in their career options.
Many jobs aren't possible for people with food allergies. The classic example is a chef. When someone wants to become a chef or a baker, they are likely to encounter their allergen. If their allergen only affects them when they eat it, it might be possible to become a chef. However, many people react even if they touch their allergen. This makes becoming a chef impossible.
Another career that people with allergies can pursue is going to the army. Many people choose to join the army (in some countries, it is mandatory). People who volunteer to go to the military will be rejected because of food allergies. Even in countries where army service is mandatory, they won't enlist someone who has food allergies. The army has very basic food for their soldiers, and it's not worth it for them to accommodate someone who has food allergies.
In Israel, the army is idealized by children. Children grow up their whole lives dreaming of the day that they get their uniform and serve the country. So, when a child discovers that they have food allergies, this can be very devastating.
Allergies in the workplace
People with food allergies who work in regular offices often struggle with their allergies. When they start working, they have to make sure that everyone knows about their allergy, and they need to make sure not to eat the allergen in the office. This can cause resentment in the office and make the person who has food allergies feel guilty.
Cafeterias aren't just a place to eat; it is also a place to socialize and get to know your co-workers. Someone with food allergies can't always eat with others (depending on their allergies). This causes them to feel isolated and left out.
Shared kitchens are very common in workplaces. People with food allergies are advised to bring their own utensils and plates (they should also get their own sponge to clean their dishes). Ensure storing them in an isolated area that won't come into contact with the other utensils.
Meetings with clients
Depending on your job, you might need to take a client out for a cup of coffee or lunch. In this situation, people with food allergies are limited. If a restaurant is known to accommodate people with allergies, you might feel more comfortable.
- Before you go to the restaurant – check the menu and find something simple that can be made allergy-free.
- Please speak to the manager of the restaurant and make sure they are willing to accommodate you.
- Make sure to ask the right questions
- Once you get to the restaurant – make sure they know about your allergies
Workplaces often have company retreats or outings that are designed to build teamwork. During these outings, they often go to restaurants or get catered food. This can be very limiting to the food allergy community. The company should try to provide someone with food allergies with safe options, but we always recommend that people with food allergies should bring safe snacks with them.
It is essential to be supportive of people with food allergies. Everyone needs to understand that people who have food allergies often feel isolated and different. It is vital to respect their allergies and NEVER bring their allergen into the workplace.