Trusting Other People When You Have Food Allergies
Living with food allergies can be scary, because one bite of food could be the difference between life and death. It can be hard, when you don’t trust food, to also trust the people serving you that food. One of my worst fears when I was younger was going over to a friend’s house for lunch. I didn’t believe that my friend’s parents would check the labels thoroughly enough before serving us food. I knew that there would be an egg hiding somewhere in the sandwich on the plate in front of me. Not only did this create an unhealthy relationship with food, but it also created an unhealthy relationship with people. For a while, I distrusted my own grandmother to check labels and serve me safe food! We can’t let our allergies sabotage our connections with others. So, how do we, as teens with allergies, learn to have faith in the people around us who are giving us food?
My first tip is really knowing your allergy. Make sure you have a strong sense of what you can and can’t eat, and whether your allergen could be hidden in certain foods. For example, with my egg allergy I have found I have to watch out for ice creams, salad dressings, and breads. Before you feel secure in this, it’s impossible to trust not only others, but yourself. Trusting your knowledge is key to stepping outside of your kitchen and eating food that others serve you.
Secondly, speak up. In the past, I have viewed my allergies as a burden for other people. I thought they would see me as “the annoying allergy kid” who needed special attention. Before you trust others, it is important to feel confident that your health needs are valid and deserve to be treated with respect. When you understand this, you will begin to speak up more. Ask the waiter or the parent of the friend loudly and confidently to double check the food. They will take you more seriously when you stand up for yourself and you can feel more sure that the food you are eating is safe.
Lastly, start small. If you are afraid of letting others serve you food, don’t go straight out to a stranger and ask for a snack! Start by eating meals with people you really trust, such as your grandparents. Let them cook you food, and when you feel safe, work your way up. Start to trust parents of friends, siblings, and eventually waiters and waitresses!
There will be many instances in our lives where our meals are cooked by others, so it is important that we learn to have faith in those who are serving them. Trust is key to forming the rich and valuable relationships we deserve!