Maya's Happy Place

A multiple food allergy kid grows up.

How to Talk About Your Food Allergies

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People Want to Understand Food Allergies

It’s almost back-to-school time and I’ve noticed quite a few things from my past food allergy symptoms and experiences. People don’t understand food allergies. They don’t understand that soy derivatives or peanut derivatives can cause severe reactions just like an actual peanut or piece of tofu. They don’t realize the food allergy rash you might go through with a food allergy to derivatives. They don’t realize that when you say you are allergic to soy, that could mean (depending upon your IgE levels and histamine response) that you’re severely allergic to over a hundred soy derivatives or peanut derivatives. Simply reading ingredients is not enough. You have to be ‘in the know’ and communicating regularly with others with these food allergies or else you wouldn’t find out about things like ‘fake olive oil’ or soy derivatives in medications. Or soy lecithin in linings of aluminum cans.
Approximately 15 million Americans, or 4.7% of the population, have food allergies. But do you know about the derivatives that can also cause allergic reactions? Food allergy derivatives are the components of food allergens that can cause reactions just like the allergen itself.
person pouring salt in bowl
Communication about what you CAN eat is key.

Communicating Your Food Allergy Needs Is Vital

Living with a food allergy can be difficult to navigate socially. It can be challenging to communicate your needs in a way that others will understand and take seriously. But by preparing ahead of time and being clear about your allergies, you can reduce the anxiety of eating out and increase your confidence in dealing with food allergies. The way you advocate for yourself or those you love also dictates whether others take you seriously or not.

coca cola cans with glass drinks beside them
Do you know all the places soy derivatives hide?

Back in 2016-2018, I explained food allergy derivatives a bit differently to new friends. Telling them I was allergic to over 200 things and could not eat in restaurants (because in reality, the list of derivatives I’m allergic to is about 300…between peanuts, some tree nuts, soy, some legumes like lentils and peas.) I couldn’t eat gluten or dairy during that time, either. I also found out in 2021 I am allergic to sunflower and sunflower oil, which is in a lot of soy-free foods and baked goods. This does not include my contact and environmental stuff. This is why I learned to cook at home.

Basically, if you tell them the amount of ingredient derivatives you have to avoid, they get it. They might also think you’re crazy, because they never knew someone allergic to that many things or anyone with anaphylaxis to peanuts or soy.
three black women friends smiling
Your true friends will support your food allergy needs to keep you healthy and happy.
But you know what? Its better for someone to think you’re crazy than to not divulge the full scope of ingredients you have to avoid. And if you realize someone doesn’t take your allergies seriously, its time to reconsider the friendship or relationship because your health and well-being should be your first priority.
It’s better to make the list or print out the soy derivatives list I have  on this site so that you can help others understand your plight and avoid suffering with an allergic reaction. We all know allergic reactions are not fun and it is up to you to tell those close to you what they need to know, too.
For several years, I didn’t eat in any restaurants…only one sushi place I knew I could take my soy-free soy sauce to.
girl dancing in sunshine
To be free of even just one food allergy means a better quality of life for us.

Now I can eat in almost any restaurant, except for Thai food. They are too risky with all the peanut ingredients. Dairy is back on the menu, with Lactaid, of course, because I’m lactose-intolerant. My severe gluten intolerance turned out to be due to a severely inflamed gut, which is now healed. I also can eat soybean oil or vegetable oil in moderation. If I eat too many soy derivatives, fun things with my body begin to happen.

When we share the burden, life can be much easier. If your food allergy derivative list is over 200 ingredients, lunch and dinner can become much easier if you list the things you can have.

How do you talk to others about your food allergy?

The derivatives of food allergies are real and can have devastating effects. To reduce the risk of dangerous derivatives, it is essential to understand the source of the allergy and to take preventive action. By educating ourselves and others, we can ensure that we are well-equipped to manage food allergies and their derivatives. Let’s get the conversation started now. Only you or I can ensure your own health the right way and it begins with communication.

One response to “How to Talk About Your Food Allergies”

  1. […] aware this is horrible, but I hadn’t mentioned the soy allergy or the allergy to peas. I just wrote a post about how to talk about your food allergy to people. Yet, I wasn’t practicing what I preached. Being proactive and giving a long list isn’t […]

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