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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 3:14 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
I'd be interested in hearing about how people handle social/job-related events with lots of people when lunches are eaten on crumb-covered tables covered with tablecloths.

I'm thinking of job/school-related events I attend on occasion where I don't know very many people, and (a catered) lunch is eaten in the same room where a few hours previously everyone was drinking coffee and eating nut/egg/soy containing muffins and other goodies. I generally end up eating out of my plastic containers without putting them on the table. I'm sure this might look odd. I feel kind of awkward sitting slightly back from the table and digging containers out of my cooler (I will probably lose the cooler shortly as I'm trying to come up with an alternative system.)

I will definitely be having to attend more of these events . .where I also be likely to end up shaking hands with folks eating banana-nut muffins, etc.

But about the crumb-covered tables---if you don't have severe contact reactions, would you just grit your teeth and put the containers on the table (and wash them up really well afterwards) . . .or would you put some sort of covering on your place (which would draw more attention to the problem). Or would you avoid contact with the table altogether.

This question applies mostly to adults with food allergies, but I'd also be interested in hearing from parents who might be giving some thought of how their children will deal with allergies when they are older.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:59 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 919
Location: Oakville, Ontario
This is a tough one Helen... with young children, somehow you can get away with being a little more obvious about this (although, I admit I feel like I must look like a neurotic mother when I'm wiping my son's hands and table! :wink: But I honestly have put aside my selfconciousness, and just done it anyway.) It is pretty hard to hide the fact that you have to deal with this, unless you don't eat with others. I don't know how you feel about this idea, but we use a piece of wax paper as a barrier between our son's containers and the table. You don't see the wax paper as much, and it doesn't take up any space in your lunch container. Also, it repels spills. If people ask us what we're doing, I just answer them very matter of factly, and then find a way to change the subject (unless I'm in the mood to talk about it). You get a sense, pretty quickly, if people will think you are neurotic or sensible. I think a sense of humour can help too (well, you can feign a sense of humour while you have to sit with them :roll: ). Try to think of some come-back lines for the difficult people.

I bet others have some great suggestions... those dealing with allergies as an adult. There are a lot of level-headed people on this forum... it would be interesting to hear what they have to say!

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15 yr old daughter: no health issues
12 yr old son: allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame, sunflower, mustard, poppy seeds, green peas, some fruits, instructed to avoid all other legumes (except soy & green beans), pollen, cats, horses


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:18 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
Thanks for the suggestion, Julie. Wax paper does sound like a good solution--it is easy enough to pack and it is relatively inconspicuous. I will try this next time, as I really did feel uncomfortable the last time I attended a conference where I sat with people I had never met before.

I don't mind so much if I'm eating with people who know me apart from the allergy situation (regardless of whether they know about the allergies). . . but it can seem awkward when meeting new people.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 10:18 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 11:21 pm
Posts: 78
Location: Connecticut, USA
I noticed all the teachers at DS's school seem to put down a piece of paper towel under their lunch boxes. I did this myself and then looked around thinking others might wonder why I did that but most everyone else had done it, too. I don't think it looks odd at all. I would do that even if not for FAs if I had to eat at a dirty table. Yuck!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:16 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:09 am
Posts: 1054
If you wanted the "place mat" to stay put, you could also use Glad "Press'n Seal" instead of wax paper.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 12:50 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
press n'seal is a good idea, too. thanks!

I'll have to work on dealing with the situation with humour :)

Part of the problem, I think, is that I do get a bit anxious about eating in an allergy-filled environment, and I absolutely do not want people to realize that.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:45 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6429
Location: Ottawa
Helen, I understand your concern about dealing with the anxiety.
Perhaps you can quietly do some relaxation exercises such as breathing exercises or clenching and unclenching muscles in sequency (toes, foot, leg, fingers, arm, butt, stomach, neck etc) and concentrating on feeling the release of tension. Make a mental check list of everything you have at your disposal to deal with a situation should it arise (auto-injector, medic-alert bracelette, good friend in the room who is aware and has been trained etc).
Let other people (ei. that good friend of yours) bring up the subject of how the service staff must be very busy that day. I hope this doesn't stain my sleeve etc.
Use the feed back form provided too respond and if this is a regular occurance, discuss it in advance with either the service manager or your immediate supervisor. If this is a "working lunch", any reaction would make the employer responsible under WSIB and it could affect their NEER rating. In any case, you will be able to work more effectively if your attention is not divided between the job at hand and your very survival.

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 1:35 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
Thanks for the suggestions, Susan. I'm actually okay at where I work part time---there is a lunch room and it is generally very clean because no one eats lunch there. (Only one other person at least on the days I'm around!)

Mostly people generally eat while working in their individual offices and they just venture into the lunch room to grab food from the fridge or to heat things in the microwave. I haven't had a reaction at work (other than some minor contact reactions.)

The situation I was describing was at a conference I had to travel a distance to (where breakfast, then a snack, then lunch is eaten all in the same huge room). That's when I get a bit anxious because I'm in a new situation where there are lots of allergens.

I don't go to these conferences very often, but I'll be going to another in the spring. And job interviews (when I get to that point) will pose similar challenges since they are all day affairs (the job candidates are generally fed lunch, snacks, dinner.)

It is good to know, though, that employers have responsibilities to accomodate allergic employees.


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