I met some friends out for dinner last week. It was one of their birthdays. I already had plans to eat with my parents, so I met them afterwards. The girls had ordered sushi to share. I am allergic to fish, so sushi wasn’t an option for me anyway. I knew the girls from high school, but was only friends with them through a few classes and organizations we were both in at that time. I ran into them and re-connected the week before at another friend’s house. None of them remembered I had food allergies, or maybe didn’t even know about my allergies in the first place.
When I got there, they tried to offer me some sushi. I politely declined, and ordered something to drink. I always have great excuses in my mind in case I don’t feel like I need to share my allergies with people I don’t know very well. They asked me a few more times, pressuring me to try some. I said I was full from dinner (which was true), and they finally stopped asking. In this situation, I could have explained my allergies, but I didn’t need to and decided to not make it a big deal. Either way, I did experience peer pressure. The peer pressure to try some food I couldn’t eat.
Peer pressure is something I remember happening a lot when I was growing up. Of course it didn’t always involve food, but many times it did. Even my close friend could occasionally have a momentary lapse of forgetfulness and offer me foods I couldn’t eat. It is the pressure though, and the need for acceptance that is the problem. I luckily never succumbed to peer pressure with food allergies. I never tried food out of courtesy or politeness. If it came down to something like that, I would then explain my allergies. I am not the type to make a big deal about something unless it is necessary. I think I am pretty good at knowing when it is and when it isn’t important to share my allergies. Over the years I learned who needed to know, and who didn’t.
Broadcasting my allergies to everyone isn’t necessary. It is however necessary to inform the important people (teachers, coaches, nurses, parents, close friends, etc.). Those are the people who will help if something happens, and who should know the precautions that I take.