How to Handle Someone Shaming Your Food Allergies
Last updated: February 2023
If your food allergies are not life-threatening, sometimes you can run into people who shame you for your food allergy. You aren't alone if you have experienced this; for the most part, people shame others out of ignorance. Because I've personally been on the receiving end of food allergy shaming, here are some tips on handling it.
Negative comments about food allergies
I have been living with food allergies for over 10 years. And throughout the years, I have encountered all sorts of reactions to my issues with food from other people. As I mentioned above, the shaming and ignorant comments don't usually have malicious intent, but rather people just don't understand what it's like to have food allergies.
My first tip would be to handle the situation gracefully and not quickly become defensive or take things personally. It's easier said than done.
A rude reaction to my allergies
For example, there was a time when I was out at a social gathering, and the food that was served contained many food allergens that I couldn't eat. At this event, I didn't come prepared. Usually, I have some sort of snack in my purse or eat beforehand. I ran late that day and showed up to the event unprepared.
Explaining my situation helped
When people noticed that I wasn't eating the food, curiosity ensued, and questions started to go around. When I said I wasn't eating because of my food allergies, someone rolled their eyes and made a rude comment.
But honestly, I didn't take it to heart because people forget that an allergy can stem from a medical condition. I then briefly explained my Crohn's diagnosis, and immediately the energy in the room shifted, and people were empathetic.
Don't take the shame personally
Again, if you receive a rude comment or facial expression, don't take it personally. Take a deep breath. Calmly explain your situation in general terms. You don't have to get into intense details about your health or condition, but I think it is worth educating others about food allergies.
In my case, my allergies are tied to a medical condition. Because I took the time to explain, I hope the person who made a rude comment will learn from the experience and avoid treating someone else the way they treated me.
How to handle food allergy shaming
Stay calm and avoid defensiveness
When someone decides to shame your food allergies, remain calm, cool, and collected. Take a deep breath before responding.
Take a quick minute to explain your situation so the person can learn the complexities of food allergies. You don't have to go into a long, drawn-out story.
Don't make the encounter a dramatic moment. After you explain, move on. Enjoy the rest of your outing, and change the subject. If you don't make it a big deal, it probably won't become big.
Do you have any tips to share with the community concerning dealing with someone shaming your food allergies?
How often do you connect with others who have food allergies?