Starting this blog has allowed me to connect with food allergic individuals, both online and in person. As a result, there have been many allergy experiences swapped and it blows my mind that all of the things I do to handle food allergies also fall into someone else's routine. So I thought a bit more about some of them, compiling a list to hopefully make you feel a little more sane.
- Trusting my mom's reading ability more than my own. I may be 24, but that doesn't stop me from trusting my mom above all others. I joked with my 28 year old friend about how I don't feel truly confident until my mom has read and approved the ingredients. I was shocked when she said she still does the same! Everything from makeup to food to medications. It's tough to be the only judge.
- In my opinion, you can never read the ingredients enough times. In my house, we have a triple check. Once in the grocery store, once unpacking the groceries, and once before using the new box for the first time. Sometimes we'll even add in a little bonus read right before eating if we cooked with the product. While it may seem excessive you'd be surprised how many "may contain" warnings we have found on the second or third read; printed in a tiny font on the total opposite side of the ingredients list.
- Watching a waiter at a restaurant refill your glass of water. This one I've joked about with a number of allergy sufferers. I was talking to someone with food allergies at a dinner and a waiter came over to refill our glasses. He paused in conversation and I called him out. "You were making sure the waiter didn't touch the communal pitcher to your glass," I said. He stopped for a moment, looking shocked, before laughing and said he couldn't believe I even noticed. I pointed out that I of course noticed, since I always watch them as well!
- Getting weird looks for not using soap in a public bathroom. Another one that comes up quite a bit. There can easily be nuts, dairy, soy and many other allergens hiding in soap. While I scrub my hands with water and always carry wipes and Purell, the dirty looks I get in public bathrooms, I guarantee, are dirtier than anything on my hands.
- Learning to deal with the restaurant comments. I always emphasize my allergies when I go out to eat, even if it is a restaurant I've been to a thousand times. You just never know when things are going to change. As a result, I've gotten every possible comment from servers. Some favorites after I've started eating include..."Still breathing over here?" "Any nuts in that dish yet?" "Glad you didn't need to use your Epipen!" and a personal favorite that is so often repeated...."How are you feeling?"
- Trying to decide if you should order your meal first or last. When out with a group, you know your order is going to take the longest. It's just a fact. Sometimes my family will suggest I go first so the waiter is fully paying attention. Other times I go last, so it is the final thing on their mind before heading to the kitchen. I don't think there's a "right" way to order, all I know is that mine is too lengthy to go in the middle.
- Having to go to three different grocery stores to get all the "staples." Some things in Stop and Shop, some in Whole Foods, and of course the occasional trip to Fairway. If only I could grocery shop in less than two hours...
These are just a few of the things that come to mind and I'd love to hear yours! We're all in this together and if we can laugh a little while comparing notes, I think it's worth sharing.