I truly understand the allergy exhaustion for Allergic Reactors. My greatest challenge when going out to eat is not wanting to make a big deal about my allergies. I often choose entrees that I am familiar with at the restaurant and ask the server to double check that nothing has changed. It can feel exhausting to ask every time you eat, but don’t get lazy! It is always important to ask. If people in the restaurant challenge me about my allergies, I go to a different one. There have been a number of times where I haven’t felt confident in the wait staff, and that feels extremely unsettling. Trying the food you order and feeling unsure about it is not worth the anxiety or the risk! If the server did not leave you with confidence that they understood, make sure to ask for the manager and don’t eat unless you feel comfortable that it is safe. The best way to do this is ask for the manager, or go right up to the kitchen and ask to speak with the chef. I have done both many times. BE ASSERTIVE! Trust me. It is much better to get the “okay” from the people who are actually supervising and cooking the meals! Sitting at the table and fearing your food is not enjoyable or worth the stress!
Whenever I try food for the first time, I sometimes think I am getting a reaction, like an itchy throat, or my mouth will get dry and I will cough a bit. Then my heart beat starts jumping up through my throat because I have made myself so concerned that I may be allergic to this food, that I think I am getting a reaction, even though I am not! That reaction is all in my head, but sometimes it is unavoidable! I find the best way to try to have these moments of panic pass, is to take some deep breaths, ask again if I feel apprehensive, and try a tiny bit on my hand, then lip. I would only ever try the food though if I knew it was okay. If there are ever any unclear ingredients, I will not eat.
When I am traveling, that is when my allergies become the most tiresome. Every meal becomes a bit less enjoyable, just knowing it will be a process to eat. There is no great advice for the exhaustion, besides saying I understand, and having patience is important. It is a part of traveling, and a part of the unknown, but everything else about traveling makes this part worth it to me.
When I was young it was the most difficult to understand. People usually get grouchy when they are hungry and over-tired. Unfortunately, us lucky allergic reactors, get the joy of having extended periods of time where we may not find safe food we can eat. This is something that happens when I travel. It may be hours before I come across some food I can deem safe. It is difficult, and I have definitely had mini temper tantrums in my head because I am so hungry! I deal though. I wait it out, pretend I am not bothered by the fact that it has been eight hours and I have not found one thing that seems safe enough to eat! What can I do? I try to prepare by bringing food with me, but honestly there is only so much I can carry, and I can try to be prepared, but it does not always work out. So I wait…until finally we arrive somewhere… and I see… fruit, or something packaged where I understand the ingredients! Ecola (as they say in Italian)! I can now finally eat.
Having food allergies makes you very tough. You have to be your own biggest fan, and tell yourself how great you are being because often as you get older, you are not with people who could ever possibly understand. If you are lucky you find friends and travel companions who are sympathetic, but you have to be your own advocate. Only people with allergies can really understand the difficulty and frustration of sitting on a plane for fourteen hours and not eating anything. It tries on your patience, and you want to scream from hunger pains and the growling lion inside your stomach, forcing the person next to you to look over at you and wonder why you are not eating because your stomach is obnoxiously loud.
Don’t be afraid to dream big about the places you want to go and the adventures you want to have, because you can still do it! Knowledge and strength are both important aspects in believing that you can. You need the knowledge to know how to take care of yourself in case of an emergency, and you need the strength to believe in yourself and your abilities to handle a situation.