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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 February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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