As a follow up on my post of 5 things not to say to a Celiac, I’ve decided to present 5 ways you can help a friend with food allergies. These are just a few small things that may seem insignificant to you, but can make a friend or family member’s life a little easier.
- Ask, “Do you have any ideas for where we should eat?”. I know that personally, I always feel a lot better about suggesting a place with a gluten-free menu when I’m being included in the discussion from the start, as opposed to me having to pipe up and say that I can’t eat at the already selected restaurant.
- Save the packaging to any food you offer. I really appreciate it when people do this, because it lets me inspect the ingredients for myself and rest easy knowing that what I’m eating truly is gluten free.
- Don’t get upset if we ask you about the ingredients in something homemade. This goes along with the previous point. It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that I need the peace of mind that comes from checking the ingredients myself. I have had a couple of uncomfortable experiences where I ask what ingredients were used, and the cook just keeps insisting that “it’s gluten free” without telling me what’s in it. And on at least one of these occasions, the cook really did think it was gluten free, but when I finally got them to tell me the ingredients, it turned out that they had used an ingredient that they didn’t know contained gluten. This is why I always feel the need to double check things myself.
- When inviting a family over or taking food to their house, always ask if anyone has any food allergies. This mainly applies if you don’t know the family very well. It’s a small thing that really means a lot to those of us with food allergies. It’s nice to know that people have the forethought to care about this.
- Respect my decisions on what to eat and what to avoid. I will sometimes choose to go without something that I am unsure about or something that “may contain wheat”. It makes it hard for me when people try to pressure me to eat things that I don’t feel safe about. I greatly appreciate people who stay out of it and let me make my own decisions in this area.
So, there you have it! 5 easy ways to help out a friend with food allergies. I started this list as something specifically applying to Celiacs, but quickly realized that it can be applied to all food allergies. I hope this helps you to realize that those of us with special diets really don’t want other people to have to cater to us. We just want to try to blend into as smoothly as possible, and not let our diets get in the way of us living. By following any or all of the tips listed above, you can help us meet this goal.