Hey there! If you’re reading this and don’t have food allergies, I’d like to applaud you. It makes me so happy to know that people who don’t have food allergies are trying to learn more about what they can do to help people with food allergies! And if you do have food allergies, I hope that you can learn something from this article, too!
A lot of times we talk about a food, restaurant, place, etc. being “allergy-friendly”. We try to live an allergy-friendly lifestyle by keeping our allergens away from us; but what should this phrase mean for non food allergic people?
Let’s start with how I think that allergy-friendly should be defined. To me, allergy-friendly means to live a lifestyle that not only keeps you safe from any food allergens that you have, but that also keeps others safe from their food allergies.
This means that yes, even without food allergies, you can help food allergic people. How can you do this?
For starters, you can learn what a food allergy is, what the symptoms of anaphylaxis are, and how to use the different forms of epinephrine (Epi-pen, Auvi-Q, etc.). This is a great starting point, because with this knowledge, you could save a life one day. A great resource is FARE, which stands for Food Allergy Research and Education. To learn how to use an Epi-pen, ask your friend/co-worker/whoever you have in your life that has food allergies if you can use their Epi-pen trainer. This comes with most prescription Epi-pens, and this is a plastic replica of an Epi-pen. The good thing about this is that it has no needle or medicine, meaning that you can learn how to use it by using it!
You can also learn from different perspectives of having food allergies. Like everyone else, everybody with food allergies has unique experiences and perspectives. There are teens with food allergies, adults with food allergies, food insecure people with food allergies, and everyone in between. I would suggest looking for blogs and social media accounts to see the different perspectives. Some I would suggest are nallergy (the site you’re on 😉), Food Allergic Teens, Food Equality Initiative, and The Allergy Table.
You can also participate in making day to day life easier for food allergic people. Learn how to read an ingredients label, call up your favorite restaurants to make sure your friend can eat there, and learn how to make day to day interactions safe for your food allergic friends. Since Halloween is coming up (and Halloween is a BIG issue for food allergic people, as you might guess), you can participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. This project aims to give food allergic children a safe option when they’re trick or treating, and I highly encourage you to participate in it! Check out this link for how to participate.
My last suggestion for you would be to explore what you can do to help! You definitely don’t have to stop with my suggestions; go and find your own ways to be a good food allergy friend or advocate. Let’s all be allergy-friendly together!