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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

Copywriter and Editor

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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