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Whether you’re a teacher with a first-time food allergy student, a neighbor that just had a food allergy family move in, or a significant other looking to navigate the makings of a brand new relationship, learning about food allergies is vital. For those living with food allergies, it is a major part of their everyday lives. They require special food they can trust, products that they deem to be safe, and people in their lives who are willing to go the extra mile to keep them from having an allergy. So, how does one go about navigating their new relationship with someone with food allergies? What are the right questions to be asking?

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What is a food allergy?

If you haven’t met anyone with food allergies before, then there is no expectation that you understand what it is like. While we always appreciate someone taking the time to do some googling, we are more than happy to have a sit-down conversation. Oftentimes, these conversations give us the chance to explain to you just what our daily life looks like. Don’t be embarrassed to ask simple questions. In order to build a trusting relationship, it is important that you understand what you need, and we see that you’re truly trying to learn.

What are some food allergy symptoms?

When being around someone with food allergies, it is important to be able to recognize when they might be experiencing an allergic reaction. Depending on the severity of the reaction, an allergy attack can be a sneezing fit, hives, or even shortness of breath. There is no single way that people react to food allergies, and it is important to know what to look for. This question shows us that you care and are looking to be vigilant. Especially when in a school setting, this question can help put parents at ease and keep them confident that the staff is taking precautions to keep their child safe.

What could I do if you experience an allergic reaction?

Everyone with food allergies has a plan. They have an EpiPen in their bags and a doctor that they go to. When making the decision to spend a lot of time with someone in the food allergy community, you should make a conscious effort to familiarize yourself with their plan. Know where their EpiPen is kept and teach yourself how to use it. Be prepared to call 911 in case of emergency and recognize the importance of having a couple of Benadryl’s on hand. Know what works for your loved ones and be prepared to help them through a terrifying experience.

Where will I find your food allergen?

People with sesame allergies, have to stay away from far more than just sesame bagels. There are countless recipes and even creams that are filled with sesame. People who have been living with food allergies their entire lives know to be vigilant of everything. They double-check their yogurts and tripe check their sunscreen. Food allergens can be hiding anywhere. This is why it is important to know exactly where your loved one’s food allergy might be hiding. A sweet gift of chocolates can take a terrible turn if there is a tahini filling. A cheesecake can be made with fish gelatin. For a little while, surprises may have to become a thing of the past.

Is your allergy different from a food intolerance?

Many people may be fed up with this question, but it is actually a good question to ask. When coming from an honest place, this question is one of someone looking to learn. Food intolerances are extremely common and can be extremely uncomfortable. However, they are not life-threatening. This giant difference is what needs to be kept in mind. When dealing with a food intolerance you may be extremely uncomfortable and have intense stomach pains, but you are not fearing for your life. For many people with food allergies, the results can be life-threatening. Anaphylactic shock can swell the throat until it is completely closed off, leaving the person without the ability to breathe.

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Conclusion

Food allergies are becoming more and more popular as time goes on. With millions of people in the US alone dealing with food allergies, we think it is high time that people finally learn how to discuss it. For so long there was a sense of disbelief in the community. Today, we are looking to educate the public on how best to approach this sensitive topic. Most people with food allergies are happy to teach. They are happy to sit down and discuss their lives to help others better understand, all they ask in return is the same respect that you would provide anything else. To keep people with food allergies safe, everyone needs to do their part in being careful.