has being a PA adult affected your social life?

Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 8:58am
steph626's picture
Joined: 02/20/2003 - 09:00

I'm fairly new to the board and was pleased to have some other PA adults respond so nicely to my intro. I have PA/TNA, along with a shellfish allergy. I'm wondering if any of you PA adults have experienced feelings of isolation from friends and even co-workers because of a reluctance to eat out. Unfortunately, I seem to be surrounded by people who want to eat adventurously and do a lot of their socializing around a table, either at a restaurant or at someone's house. On occasion I am invited and I bring my food, but that can be awkward, especially when I try to explain why I'm just not comfortable eating what a friend has prepared (they are sympathetic and they read labels, but they always miss something). I love my friends and when we do other things besides eating we all have a great time. But it's gotten to the point where they know I'm uncomfortable in most restaurants and just don't invite me. So I do feel a little left out. I guess it's up to me to find other ways to socialize and then introduce them. But dang, has anyone else experienced this problem?

Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 9:24am
MaryM's picture
Joined: 12/11/2006 - 09:00

Hi Steph,
Sorry you are feeling a bit left out. I am PA/TNA and I have felt the same way at times. I tend to frequent the same restaurants over and over - the ones where I feel safe. So, when friends want to go out to eat, we usually go to those restaurants. My husband's friends will go as far as checking with a restaurant about the oils they use to cook, etc. they are all very cool. If people go to Asian restaurants or anything thats just too "out there" for me, I don't go, it stinks to feel left out, but I'd rather not put myself at risk - I am sure you understand that feeling [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
If you don't want to eat out, maybe you could tell your friend's or co-workers that although you won't be joining them for a meal, you could have a drink or two with them at some point. Even if you don't drink alcohol, its always fun to go to a neat place, have a drink, chat and people watch. I went to a really cool restaurant where I could never eat, but had some nice wine at the bar with my friend.
As for eating at friend's homes - I have some friends that I trust completely. Others - I just ask them to read labels and hold on to them for me to look over too. Always be prepared with your own food incase they miss something. Or you can invite them to your home, where you know the food will be safe. I do this a lot. My friend's and Dh's friends know they are in for a great meal if they come to our house and its a great way to be social and feel safe.
Hope this helps a bit. Have you always had the allergies or are they a recent development? When mine got bad, I totally freaked, wouldn't eat bread, cried a lot for the loss of my social life, etc. But I have gotten much better about eating out and socializing.
Good luck

Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 9:52am
steph626's picture
Joined: 02/20/2003 - 09:00

Hi, MaryM! Thanks for your suggestions--I have actually done the "meet up with you after dinner" thing once or twice and that does work well. My hubby and I do try to have people over at our house as much as we can, although we do have the added disadvantage of being the only vegetarians in a group of meat-eaters! :-) At any rate, I think the most frustrating thing for me is that I've had these food allergies my whole life, and I got all the way through college and a trip to Italy without any really horrible reactions, and only now in my 30's am I becoming a serious worry-wart (some of it, of course, is justified).
Sorry to hear you had a rough time when your allergies got bad--were they not so bad when you were a kid, then? What helped you get over the frustration as an adult? (if you don't mind me asking)

Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 10:05am
MaryM's picture
Joined: 12/11/2006 - 09:00

Hi Steph,
When I was a kid the only reaction I ever had to any peanuts or tn was a scratchy throat - I just avoided them. My mom didn't even know about the allergy. I was able to eat creamy peanut butter - but not chuncky (something about the protein and how its broken down I guess). As I got older the reactions got worse - fat lip and scratchy thoat from kissing someone who had eaten peanuts, then a full blown anaphylactic reaction to a mini egg roll at an Irish Pub about 5-6 years ago. Thats when I started freaking out - I thought I was going to die during that reaction (had never even heard of an Epi Pen) - anyway - I just did a lot of research, spoke with my allergist and eventually, with the help of some wonderful friends, got back into life. It took awhile and I still have moments of panic especially when I am stressed out about other things.
I totally understand the worry-wart thing but you've made it through a lot without any horrible reactions, so obviosly you are doing something right.
As for being a vegitarian - you could do things like fondue parties or cocktails with appetizers and just not serve meat, right?
Good luck and feel free to ask me anything!

Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 10:30am
steph626's picture
Joined: 02/20/2003 - 09:00

Hi Mary
My allergies were fairly strong from the beginning--I picked up a walnut when I was three and the hives told my mom all she needed to know! What I think is interesting is that it seems like only in the past 5-10(?) years or so have people, even doctors, really been catching on to how serious food allergies are. My parents have described several serious reactions from when I was a kid where they were told by the pediatrician "if she's throwing up, she's okay." Can you imagine? I count myself lucky that I've never had a true anaphylactic reaction (your eggroll incident must have been terrifying!!), but I didn't get an epi-pen until I was in college, and even then I didn't really know what anaphylaxis was or how serious it could be. At any rate, I completely agree about the "moments of panic"--my food worries are always at their worst when I'm tired and anxious in general.
Thanks again for chatting with me--I am soo glad someone knows what I'm talking about!

Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 12:14pm
krasota's picture
Joined: 04/24/2000 - 09:00

My social life hasn't suffered that much. My friends understand that I can't eat certain things. My good friends make an effort to fix stuff I can eat and things usually work out. They're good people who also keep my other allergies and sensitivities in mind--they don't wear perfume or liquid latex around me and they don't try to serve me edamame or reese's cups.
I do go to my local Japanese restaurant, where the waitstaff know me and make sure my food is soy free (I'm soy allergic and PA). I live in a small city where I can find pretty much whatever I want to eat on a given night. I have a safe pizza place, safe sushi (I'm vegetarian, so I don't eat fish, but I eat vegetable rolls), safe mediterranean food, safe Italian, etc.
My latex allergy is probably the biggest impediment to my social life... It doesn't matter how safe the ingredients are--if the food is prepared by someone wearing latex gloves, it's not going in my mouth. I've had enough anaphylactic reactions to latex, I don't need any more. And I'll be much happier when the latex clothing fad passes the goth scene once and for all. I shouldn't have to worry about *brushing* up against someone in the club.

Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 2:10pm
steph626's picture
Joined: 02/20/2003 - 09:00

Yikes--latex is in so many things! That would be a tough thing to work around--plus at a club, it's usually nice and dark and you can't exactly ask to read some stranger's garment tag. My sympathies. I'm also interested that you are vegetarian as well and are able to avoid soy. I've never been a huge fan of tofu anyway--if you don't mind my asking, what do you do for protein?

Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 3:21pm
helenmc's picture
Joined: 05/01/2002 - 09:00

I would say that my allergy has affected my social life, but I think it has changed due to getting older anyway :-)
I'm 32 now and I don't enjoy going out to nightclubs etc, but I would like to go out to a nice resturant every now and again. We haven't been out to dinner for a long time - tried to attend a wedding reception 2 weeks ago and the Italian resturant refused to serve me - I was asked to bring my own food. I felt embarrassed, so my husband and I had a picnic on the beach instead.
I'm in the middle of trying to organise a staff dinner for our school (I'm a teacher) and have found a friendly Mexican resturant. I faxed them a special note and they seem happy to prepare a safe meal for me. It just depends on whether I feel confident enough to accept that it will be safe (or if my husband wil think it is OK!!), so I haven't decided on whether I'll be going yet.
I also have some really close friends and work buddies who I can trust, and we eat over at each other's houses - dinner parties are so much more fun than having to compete with the noise of other customers, loud music and poor service in a resturant!
Helen :-)

Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 8:02pm
MichelleR's picture
Joined: 05/14/2001 - 09:00

Hi there,
Friends are one thing - you can just tell them you don't want to eat in a restaurant and if they choose to go, you just meet them later. But in my office, all social nights out seem to involve eating - and I don't eat in restaurants ever, because staff are so ignorant of allergies etc. In my last job, most people understood after a while and just accepted that I wouldn't eat out - when I went to our Christmas party I ate at home beforehand, and then sat at the table with them and just drank wine while they were eating their dinners. Hardly anyone even raised an eyebrow. But I've only been in my currnet job a couple of months, and sometimes it's just too hard to explain it. When you say 'I don't eat in restaurants because I'm allergic to nuts", the reply is always "But surely you could get something without nuts in it...". I have to resist the urge to be sarcastic and reply : "Well now why didn't I think of that?? Get something without nuts in it...Ingenious". But I'm so tired of explaining every time, that I end up making other excuses, and as a result, come across as unsociable etc.
So yes, it has affected my social life to an extent (luckily most of my friends are more interested in drinking than eating tee hee). But what I hate more is the inconvenience - if I'm going somewhere straight from work for example, and I can't just nip in somewhere and grab a bite to eat, unless I want to go to McDonalds or Burger King, which isn't great for the figure to say the least. I either have to bring food with me, or go hungry....
Still must not complain too much, things could be a lot worse...
Take care,

Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 8:29pm
Nick's picture
Joined: 11/01/2000 - 09:00

Tell me about it!! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 10:58pm
steph626's picture
Joined: 02/20/2003 - 09:00

It's so nice to hear other people describe the same experiences I've had. My concerns also seem to be increasing as I get older (I'm 30 now)--maybe it's because I'm paying more attention (or too much?).
Helenmc, I dread weddings--isn't that awful? I can't tell you how many times I've tried to call ahead/check on the menu, etc., and once in a while it turns out okay, but most of the time I end up bringing my own food or eating beforehand. The only time I really relaxed at a wedding was at my own (great caterer, very understanding)! How frustrating (and ridiculous on their part), that the restaurant wouldn't even serve you!!
MichelleR, I've had the same problems at work, too, where a lot of the socializing is done over food and it gets really inconvenient. I've done the same thing with office Xmas parties, where I eat beforehand and just go and sit around (even at my husband's party). Sometimes the boss buys lunch delivered for the department and what can I do? And the whole office group always goes out for lunch to celebrate birthdays--I'd love to join in, but I just can't eat at "Sushi Thai"!!
But I also agree, it could all be a lot worse. :-) Perspective is everything. Thanks, everyone!



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