Sometimes family members and close friends just don’t get what food allergies are, how serious a reaction can be or how to approach food intolerances appropriately in social situations. This lack of understanding can lead to comments like ‘it’s all in your head’, ‘you’re fussy’, ‘you just need attention’ or even ‘that’s rubbish there were no food allergies when I was growing up’. This behaviour is often displayed at family get-togethers, house or office parties and Christmas.
With all the stories I hear and read every day the ones that disturb me the most are the ones that are triggered by close family and friends. Just imagine kids at an Easter egg hunt with their aunt who claimed to carefully read labels but missed ‘may contain traces of nuts’ and with love she fed them their favorites which she came to regret later when they were rushed to a hospital to treat an allergic reaction. Then there’s the loving mother in law who made dairy-free cookies for her lactose intolerant grand-son but used butter as the main ingredient. It’s really concerning, isn’t it?
Dealing with close family can be one of the biggest challenges in adapting to life with allergies or having a child who’s intolerant to certain ingredients. Knowing that after all, these people love the child and would never intentionally hurt him or her, you have to understand any comment or cause is merely a lack of knowledge and awareness.
If you think you have an unsupportive family member, try the four ideas below to see progress and feel much better:
01. Educate them
Sending lengthy articles at the beginning won’t cut it. Yes you can try to get them to read informative articles on what and how to, but the most effective is finding articles and blog posts that discuss horror stories of reactions that were caused by ignorance. Letting them know how bad the reactions can be, will set the scene for some education. Then fill the gaps with how-to, what and why articles.
02. Include them
Include your family and friends in your journey. Take them out to food exhibitions, events, restaurants and grocery stores that offer gluten free, nut free, dairy free and sugar-free options. Let them know it’s not that bad to be sensitive to food. You still can enjoy a meal together without having to feel miserable. Also get them to join support groups online to interact with. They can watch recipe videos online, talk to other people and get an understanding of the situation. Also, give them an allergy-free cookbook and encourage them to cook wholesome meals. Let them know that this is a good start for them on their healthy journey too.
03. Appreciate and acknowledge them
When they show the signs that they care and have educated themselves, take time to acknowledge and appreciate them. Remember that they have been a certain way and now trying to change out of love to you and your family. Change is the hardest thing for many people and doing so they show you that they care and love. Tell them you appreciate that. A small thank you can go a long way.
04. If nothing works, avoid them
So when all your efforts deemed wasted what can you do? Rather than being sad, angry and complaining, try to focus on the things that’s important to you. When your health and your family’s health is the most important thing, why waste your time trying to convince and change the minds of others? Save your time and energy explaining and educating people who aren’t willing to listen and instead focus on your future. Spend that time learning new recipes, seeking support from local and online communities and looking after yourself or your child. Say no and don’t let anyone bully you. If they don’t understand why and make remarks, then just ignore them. It’s not you who’s at fault, it’s them and their ignorance.
Hope you like this article and use the tips discussed to make your life healthy.