Hi all—I know this is something that many of us have been dealing with for awhile now: annoying comments regarding my peanut/treenut allergy. Recently, some comments have included: "Oh, we don't want to kill her." or when I asked a coworker to write a recommendation for me, she randomly retorted: "I'd say that you are allergic to everything." She ordinarily is pretty in tune to my allergies, but these types of insensitive comments slip out—and I notice that about most people.
I acknowledge that maybe people don't know how to react or how to handle these types of things so these awkward comments come out. I try to say something along the lines of: "It's a serious medical condition that I need to take care of."
I used to push back more and say: "Hey, that really bothers me when you say that." But it just happens so much that I took a step back in terms of how much energy I was putting into it.
Anyone out there feel similarly/have any other thoughts to add to the toolbox of tactics to use in this type of situation? Thanks so much and sending lots of good vibes your way.
By PeanutAllergy.com on Nov 28, 2015
Question of the Week: Answered!
Every week, PeanutAllergy.com answers one of the questions posted in our community.Our Answer:
We are sorry to hear that some people are making comments about your allergy that make you uncomfortable. Dealing with a food allergy comes with more challenges than just dietary ones. You are definitely not alone when it comes to dealing with less-than-pleasant comments about a food allergy.
For starters, it sounds like you already have a good approach for dealing with these comments. It’s important to realize that not everyone will understand the seriousness of your condition. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to deal with those comments, either.
Parents especially know the challenge of speaking to many different people about food allergies. Although this is a different situation, it is a similar one. For parents, it’s important to get a sense of what teachers or other parents think might happen to a child who is allergic to certain foods. Make sure your co workers and other people around you know that this is a condition that could cause immediate physical symptoms – not just something that you can overcome easily. Read more about communication with others about an allergy here.
You should also know that the Americans with Disabilities Act protects the rights of people with disabilities. Although you might not immediately think of a food allergy as a disability, a disability is actually any mental or physical impairment that significantly limits major life activities such as eating and breathing. People with food allergies have a right to request changes in the workplace environment if there are conditions that disadvantage them. The ADA also protects against any harassment, coercion or retaliation against an employee who uses their ADA rights.
You have every right to have accommodations made for you when it comes to your food allergy. If a co worker seems annoyed at this, you can try kindly reminding them about the seriousness of your conditions and your rights under the ADA. You can read more about them here.
It’s also important to remember that you should always take safety measures when dealing with a food allergy — especially if you’re in a new environment or around people who might not fully understand your allergy. Always make sure to double-check food at an office party or holiday get-together where you don’t know everyone or their cooking style. Read more about managing your allergy here.
We always recommend speaking with your doctor about your concerns.
We hope this information is helpful. Take care!