"My name is Bethany and I’m 19 years old. I’ve been anaphylactic to dairy and allergic to nuts since I was born. Also, 4 years ago I went gluten-free because of digestive issues"
Growing up with food allergies is hard. I missed out on treats at school, I have to be selective of who’s house I eat at, I only eat at 1 restaurant I know is safe for me, I bring my own food when I go out and when I go on holiday.
My Mum’s closest friends make an effort to see what I can and can't eat when I go to theirs. This makes me feel included and means I can enjoy social activities.
People who are supportive and accommodating are key. Safe food and snacks make it easier to eat out.
There is one time that really stands out to me regarding my food allergies not being taken seriously. I was at secondary school (year 8 (UK) or 7th grade (US)). We went over my allergies and they said they understood and all the lunches would be fine as I would get a different meal.
Then one day I was given a bake-well tart that they said was dairy-free, nut-free and gluten-free. I checked with them and they rechecked the packet and they said they were safe for me to eat. So, I ate it.
At the weekend, we went to get some of the bake-well tarts. When we checked the ingredients, they contained almonds. When I went back to school on Monday, we had a meeting with the school cooks and the nurse/first aider. The cooks didn’t take it seriously.
After that, I always took a packed lunch. This was good as I knew the food would be safe. But it was also bad because I was the only one in the entire school doing it. It made me feel embarrassed and singled-out. To this day, I still struggle with eating my own food when I go out.
Always check the packet yourself even if it seems silly and you’ve eaten it a thousand times before. A good way to do this is to check the ingredients when you buy it and when you go to make it. Only recently, I ended up checking the recycling to check the ingredients on potato waffles. I’ve had them all my life but I still check them each time I buy and eat them. They were safe and it gave me such peace of mind knowing I could eat them without any problems.
In the future, I would love to see…
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