Like in restaurants, hanging out with friends can be an experience that runs the gamut of safety. I’ve had acquaintances go so far as to label everything for me, complete with cute little cards in front of dishes (You know who you are, and seriously, I’ll be telling that story forever). I have one girlfriend who knows I tend to stick to veggie sticks or cheese chunks at social gatherings, and she’ll even ask for me when I don’t.
Other friends just keep an eye out and let me know what’s safe and unsafe. All are awesome, and are markers of great friends and make me feel warm and fuzzy. I know exactly who to call when I’m stranded on the side of a road at midnight in the snow, or however, the saying goes.
Here are a couple of tips on how you can be a great friend to someone with food allergies:
Do: Keep inviting them places. I know that I don’t expect anything when I go to a friend’s house. If there’s food that’s safe for me, that’s awesome. I’ll generally err on the side of not eating over being a pain. There’s that stigma rearing its head again!
Do: Ask what they can have if you’re going to have them over and have food. The list of “can” is likely way longer than the list of “can’t” so focus on that. There’s a lot of resources on recipes that newfangled internet. Try something new!
Do: Have them bring stuff. No harm, no foul here. Especially if they ask, “What can I bring?”
Do: Ask us if you’re not sure and you want to surprise your friend. Looking for a recipe without some combination of ingredients? We’re on it! We’ll find you just the thing! Or we’ll make one. We’re up for the challenge – play stump the food allergy focused company!
Do: Invite the food allergy kid to birthday parties. Ask the mom or dad if you’re not sure about food stuff or if they want to bring their own food or if you’d like to have something different just for them, or if you want to make sure that what you have is safe. Please don’t exclude them. Put yourself in that parent’s shoes for a moment and think of how it would feel if it was your kid.
Do: Get all your eye rolls out ahead of time. Or after. 😉 Don’t worry, I roll my eyes at my food allergies all the time.
Don’t: Tell them something is safe if you’re not sure. Or if it isn’t safe.