Written by Shandee Chernow, Founder + CEO of CertiStar
Did you know that 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies or intolerances and about 1 in 13 children have food allergies? It’s easy to think people with allergies are simply being dramatic or high-maintenance, but the fact is that food allergies can be fatal.
With Food Allergy Awareness Week happening May 12–18, I wanted to share some tips on how you can be the best friend possible to someone in your life who has food allergies.
Like in restaurants, hanging out with friends can be an experience that runs the gamut of safety. I’ve had acquaintances go so far as to label everything for me, complete with cute little cards in front of dishes. (You know who you are, and seriously, I’ll be telling that story forever.)
I have one girlfriend who knows I tend to stick to veggie sticks or cheese chunks at social gatherings, and she’ll even ask for me when I don’t.
Other friends just keep an eye out and let me know what’s safe and unsafe. All are awesome, and are markers of great friends and make me feel warm and fuzzy. I know exactly who to call when I’m stranded on the side of a road at midnight in the snow, or however the saying goes.
Here are some tips on how you can be a great friend to someone with food allergies.
Do: Keep inviting them places.
I know that I don’t expect anything when I go to a friend’s house. If there’s food that’s safe for me, that’s awesome. I’ll generally err on the side of not eating over being a pain. There’s that stigma rearing its head again!
Do: Ask what they can have if you’re going to have them over and have food.
The list of “can” is likely way longer than the list of “can’t” so focus on that. There are a lot of resources and recipes online. Try something new!
Do: Have them bring stuff.
No harm, no foul here. Especially if they ask, “What can I bring?”
Do: Ask us if you’re not sure and you want to surprise your friend.
Looking for a recipe without some combination of ingredients? We’re on it! CertiStar will find you just the thing! Or we’ll make one. We’re up for the challenge—play stump-the-food-allergy-focused company!
Do: Invite the “food allergy kid” to birthday parties.
Ask the mom or dad if you’re not sure about food stuff. Maybe they want to bring their own food or you’d like to have something different just for them, or if you want to make sure that what you have is safe. Please don’t exclude them. Put yourself in that parent’s shoes for a moment and think of how it would feel if it was your kid.
Do: Get all your eye rolls out ahead of time.
Or after. Don’t worry, I roll my eyes at my food allergies all the time.
Don’t: Tell them something is safe if you’re not sure.
As someone who personally suffers from food allergies, I created a technology platform solution for the restaurant industry in CertiStar, my company that’s on a mission to improve the dining experiences of men, women and children who suffer from food allergies.
The company’s MenuStar software allows for the restaurant to provide safety and ease to those guests who frequent with food allergies with a quick user-friendly, three-second search.
You can learn more about CertiStar on our official website.
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