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What People With Food Allergies Want You to Know

What People With Food Allergies Want You to Know

Food allergies are on the rise. A 2013 Center for Disease Control and Prevention study, announced that food allergies in children increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011. People are also developing food intolerance in adulthood, often because of digestive issues which develop slowly over a lifetime.

There are a lot of theories as to why food allergies are increasing. Some believe there is a link between the highly processed foods Western countries consume. This belief is founded on a higher intake of foods with lower nutritional value, and even synthetic food products which our bodies see as foreign, causing inflammation and a host of other issues depending on the individual biology, immune system, and environment of the person.

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Processed foods also typically contain some of the top offenders such as milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, and wheat. A person’s body may never develop the immunological and mechanical barriers to fight off allergens, or a low level of tolerance can be worn down over time when the immune system is constantly overburdened.

The only way to deal with food allergies is to strictly avoid trouble foods, which can be a complicated and difficult endeavor both strategically, logistically and emotionally. If you know someone who suffers from food allergies, or if you are an allergy sufferer yourself, here are some things the allergic would like you to know.

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1. We don’t wish you had food allergies too

It can be tough being “the allergic one.” As annoying as it can be for us to have to tiptoe around ingredients and play 20 questions with the waiter, we really don’t wish the same on you. So don’t feel self-conscious for your love for gluten-filled pizza, or ice cream brimming with lactose. Eat what you like. We’re not looking down on you, or resenting (too much) your ability to digest whatever your fully functioning stomach desires. We’ll be fine.

2. We don’t want to cause a scene

There are times when we wish we could just spin the Yelp globe and blindly pick a restaurant based on its ratings and originality rather than its allergy-friendly options. But as it is, it’s hard to drop in just anywhere. So many restaurants come with pre-made ingredients laced with allergens, or even freshly prepared menu items include seemingly innocuous ingredients that could send our bodies into a fit. We’re not trying to be dramatic, we don’t like having to be picky, so please bear with us in the extra-long search for somewhere to grab a bite.

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3. We wish we could partake like a normal person

A lot like the desire to be low key when our allergies make us stand out as “weird”, we wish we could be normal and take part in what everyone else is doing. When we pass along the peppermint bark at the company gift exchange without securing a piece for ourselves, or pass on your open box of cronuts, still crystallizing with sugar coating, we don’t mean to disrupt tradition or look down our noses at anyone who does partake. Please don’t take our abstinence as a reflection on you.

4. An allergy or sensitivity is different from “being good”

We’re not avoiding certain foods to “be good” or because we’re “health nuts.” It’s not a matter of naughty or nice, it’s a matter of healthy or sick, or in some cases life or death. It’s not like being on a diet and allowing yourself just one tiny sliver of a triple fudge cake. If we indulge, we get sick. The repercussions are a far cry from putting on a few holiday pounds.

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5. We could use some help preparing foods

Since most allergic reactions come from eating in restaurants, where controlling or even knowing what’s in certain foods can be nearly impossible, that means eating at home a lot. Obviously cooking at home takes a lot more preparation, planning, shopping and chopping. Just keeping up on the dishes or helping with the meal prep can really go a long way in making life easier.

6. Food Allergies Can Be Alienating

You might not even realize just how closely linked food, social norms, and festivities can be. For the most part social events and even simple workplace interactions revolve around food. When you want to catch up with someone, you might ask if they want to grab dinner or coffee sometime. Business meetings are often held over the lunch hour. Family gatherings and parties generally revolve around the snack table.

When we have to be picky or even pass up the offerings altogether, it’s uncomfortable. We’re aware and we wish we didn’t have to. Please don’t make it weirder by commenting on how “sensitive” or “healthy” we are.

Food allergies can be frustrating, but with a little creativity and support they can be managed and life can be just as fun, sweet, and varied as it should be.

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Hannah Glenn

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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