If you’re living with food allergies, you’re already aware of the impact the condition can have on your life — but chances are strong that other people in your orbit don’t know as much as they could about the disease. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness for the condition — particularly in May, which is Food Allergy Awareness Month.
It can be hard when your friends and family don’t know what you’re going through. It can also feel difficult to say no to loved ones who don’t understand your situation because you might worry about how your relationships will be affected.
Raising food allergy awareness is important so your friends, family, and acquaintances can better understand how to support you.
Before you can create public awareness by sharing information with others, it’s a good idea to understand the specifics of food allergies. Learn more about the condition’s causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment options.
Food allergies develop when a person’s immune system becomes sensitized to proteins from a certain food. Whenever the person eats the allergenic food, the immune system launches an abnormal reaction as though the food were a dangerous invasive particle such as a virus, bacterium, toxin, or parasite.
Food allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms, which may be mild or severe. An allergenic food may cause a mild reaction in a person one day and a severe one in the same person the next day. Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.
One in every 13 children has a food allergy. Although more than 170 different foods can cause allergic reactions, eight foods are responsible for most of the serious food allergies worldwide:
After you’re armed with information about food allergies, you can share that information with others. The fastest and least expensive way to take action is through social media. If you feel comfortable, you can post information about food allergies and possible medical reactions to allergens. You can also join communities of other people who are also working to raise awareness for this issue.
Additionally, to ensure your messages on social media reach as many people as possible, consider using an appropriate food allergy-related hashtag, like #FoodAllergyAwareness or #FARE. This way, your posts will be seen by more people who have the same interests, and they’re more likely to share and comment.
Social media helps raise awareness for the condition, and it also allows other people with food allergies to realize they aren’t alone. Joining a food allergy community on social media, such as MyFoodAllergyTeam, can also help you connect with others.
Another way to raise food allergy awareness is to participate in an activity dedicated to the cause. You can walk or run for food allergy research, play bingo, participate in fundraising events, or even create a unique event that works for your interests. You can help other people understand more about food allergies while having fun and raising money for the cause.
If you are able, you can also donate (or encourage others to donate) to organizations like FARE to support food allergy advocacy and research.
Remember to engage in self-care. It is emotionally taxing to educate others about your experiences, so know your limits and accept when to put your mental well-being first.
MyFoodAllergyTeam is a social support network for those living with food allergies. More than 39,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with the condition.
Share your food allergy journey in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.