Got a friend who has a food allergy or intolerance? Imagine the problems and frustration that this causes them at meal times. Do you want to be able to understand what they are going through a little better and know how you can help? The information below is just what you need to help you support a friend with a food allergy or a food intolerance.So what is a food allergy?
A food allergy is an unpleasant reaction to a food item or food type which is normally harmless to a non-allergic person. Allergic reactions may cause symptoms such as rashes, eczema, swelling, nasal allergy, wheezing and in extreme cases may be life threatening. Some food allergies can be difficult to manage. People with a nut allergy have to be very careful as even though food may not contain nuts it may have been contaminated when the meal was made and even a small trace of it could be very serious.
Food allergies are often difficult to diagnose so your friend may have had to experience lots of unpleasant tests and trips to the doctor for their food allergy to have been diagnosed.
The types of food that people are allergic to include wheat, milk, nuts, eggs fish and sesame seeds, but there are many more so it is often very difficult to discover exactly what someone is allergic to. Sometimes people are allergic to more than one type of food which makes it even more difficult when deciding what to eat.
A Food Intolerance, although not life threatening can make someone feel very unwell with symptoms such as nausea, flatulence, abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhoea and migraines. Food intolerance can be even more difficult to diagnose than a food allergy as symptoms are nearly always delayed, a food symptoms diary can often be the best way of identifying an intolerance and the offending foods can then be avoided.
How can you help a friend?
- Talk to your friend about the allergy/intolerance and what they are going through. This will help you understand their illness better.
- Plan ahead. If you are going out for a meal check in advance that there will be something your friend can eat so it is not embarrassing for them when they get there.
- Tell people about the allergy/intolerance – many restaurants will make alternatives dishes so ask beforehand. This will save your friend any embarrassment or wasting food if an unsuitable dish is made.
- See what dishes are served up in your school – look on the menu and see what food your friend can eat in the school dining hall. School cooks will make alternative dishes for people with food allergies/intolerances so make sure your friend has told the kitchen staff so they can ensure a suitable dish is available each day.
Your friend could contact Allergy UK for help and advice. Allergy UK has a helpline on 01322 619898 that provides practical advice to sufferers. The charity also has a number of fact sheets that are available for members which are a full of top tips to cope with the condition. The website www.allergyuk.org is full of the latest information and news on all the different types of allergies. Or if you or your friend wants to email them for advice or information you can at firstname.lastname@example.org.