Discovering a new food allergy or food-related condition can be overwhelming. During this time, support from family and friends helps to make this transition a little easier for all.
In your new walk of life, omitting foods that are commonplace will create social challenges that you may not expect. The ease of attending any event where food is served will be replaced with stress and awkward moments. You might wonder what to say to the host of the party, or the event planner at the office, or the guests that arrive to your house with a lovingly prepared dessert that you or your child cannot eat.
You will also encounter common rebuttals such as “Surely, a little bit won’t hurt you.” Or, “Is there something you can take for it so you can eat this?” Or, one of our favorites “Why don’t you just take it off of the bun?”
You may also be in a mode of panic right now, wondering how you are possibly going to make the items on your standard menu without a herculean effort. You may wonder how you are going to go out to eat. You may wonder how you are going to juggle the complexities of your busy life with a daunting challenge of omitting one or many foods.
Before you succumb to feelings of being overwhelmed, we offer our support and encouragement and as much information on this website that we can provide to help make this transition easier. We also want to reassure you that while there will be a learning curve, you will soon be able to handle your, or your loved ones’ food allergies with ease. Many people do it, and you are not alone.
One of the things we recommend doing is joining local Facebook groups that offer support to those living with food allergies or food-related conditions. There, you will find a plethora of friendly members to support you and help you get through this challenge. You are not alone and you CAN do this.
Whether you choose to omit a food to improve your health, or you must omit it to prevent sickness and injury, it is your right to decide what you eat and do not eat. We offer this friendly sample letter to close family and friends asking for their support as you navigate this new (and most certainly challenging) lifestyle.
SAMPLE LETTER TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS [edit to personalize]
Dear Friends and Family,
We are asking for your support and understanding as we adopt a new nutritional plan to improve our child’s health. After working with our doctors, we started to eliminate certain foods from his diet in order to prevent serious illness. We are hopeful for improved health, however, this will pose extra challenges for us in many areas of our life, including social situations.
As we are going through this learning process, we kindly ask that you help our family keep this matter private, reserve judgment/advice and be advocates on [Sam’s] behalf. We are receiving guidance and advice from many caring professionals in our medical network and will be working with them on an ongoing basis.
Attending social functions where [allergen(s)] is/are being served is going to be one of the most challenging aspects of this change. We have a lot of work to do to make personal adjustments in our own lifestyle but we know that encountering situations where we will have to decline certain foods will be particularly awkward for us. Please know that we wish we could eat the items prepared with [allergen] if we could.
In order that our son remains safe and his body has a chance to heal, my [partner/mother/husband] and I will be the only ones preparing his food. While we appreciate offers extended to us to prepare food for him, it will be a greater help to allow us to retain control as there are many ingredients that contain hidden and alternately-named additives and chemicals that contain his allergen.
For future events, we will be very happy to bring a dish, snacks and/or desserts that he can eat. This will help us all feel comfortable and enjoy one another’s company.
Thank you so much for all of your love, care and support as we go through this challenging change in lifestyle. We love you all and hope to see you soon!