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Food Allergy

Etiquette 101 – No. 2

Dory Cerny has the snappy answer for that allergy “situation.”

Situation: There’s a friend at work you’ve often had lunch with. Lately, he’s decided it’s funny to tell the waiter “just bring her some water – she’s allergic to everything else.”

How to handle: Before your next midday meal with Don Rickles, prepare a sarcastic retort along the lines of “while my incredibly sensitive friend finds the idea of me doing a faceplant in my soup hilarious, I think I’ll just tell you about my life-threatening allergies instead.” If that doesn’t get the point across, ditch buddy boy and find a new lunchmate; preferably one who doesn’t find your serious health condition such a thigh-slapper.

Situation: Your new in-laws are desperate to have you two over for dinner, but you’re highly allergic to cats, and their beloved Mr. Tinkles is definitely the lord of the manor.

How to handle: You might as well be honest. Tell them about your allergy, and suggest that a meal in their beautiful garden would be a better option. (Hey, kissing up to the in-laws early is a good idea, especially if you’re planning to have kids.) It doesn’t hurt to lay some ground rules early either, in preparation for all those years and years of visits ahead. Ask if Mr. Tinkles could be confined to one room while you’re there, and suggest that, while you know your mother-in-law’s house is always spotless, maybe running the vacuum quickly before you arrive would, however, help your breathing. Bring a treat for the ball of allergenic fluff to show you don’t hate cats, really. And get your husband to agree to a late arrival and early departure, lest he bear the brunt of your coughing, snoring and wheezing all night.

Situation: A close friend asks you to be in her wedding party, but option two on the reception dinner menu is salmon – and you’re at risk of anaphylaxis to fish.

How to handle: Tell her that you’re willing to wear the seafoam green taffeta bridesmaid dress, but you’ll have to put your foot down when it comes to your ability to breathe unassisted. Speak
to the caterer ahead of time: can he assure that if you pick one of the other options, there will be no cross-contamination in the kitchen? If in doubt, bring your own meal and ask the caterer to have it served along with the others. Give a trusted friend the task of overseeing the handling of your food in the kitchen.If even a good whiff of fish has you reaching for the Epi or Twinject, tell the bride that, while you will be thrilled to precede her down the aisle, you’ll have to arrive at the reception after all fishy scraps have been cleared.

Situation: You’re out at a restaurant on a first date with an attractive, interesting fellow, who orders something you’re allergic to. Later, he leans in for a goodnight kiss.

How to handle: First of all, a kiss on the first date? OK, I’m old- fashioned, but a handshake or a hug should suffice. If your heart is already aflutter, best to be upfront. Calmly tell Dreamboat that he’s eaten something you’re allergic to, and that it’s just not safe for you to lock lips so soon after he’s eaten. Thank him for a wonderful evening and suggest getting together soon for a non-food date.

First published in Allergic Living magazine.
(c) Copyright AGW Publishing Inc.

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