Over the past 6 months allergy sufferer Beth Newton has been writing a series of blogs for us about her condition, and how businesses and individuals can adapt to accommodate the growing number of sufferers in the UK. Allergies remain a hot, and pressing, issue for the foodservice industry - as well as one that’s often underestimated.
As Beth explains “Having a severe allergy is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week job, and in most cases - including mine – it’s a job you have for life. You have to think about it every time you eat, drink or use a cosmetic product. You have to be prepared and aware at all times. No exceptions.
All this might sound a little dramatic, but the reality is that having an allergy means you live every day with a literal life or death fear.”
With that in mind, and Allergy Awareness Week on the horizon, we decided to revisit Beth’s Diaries and share all the different ways she’s been affected by her allergy.
Read Part 1 - Beth’s introduction to life with a severe peanut allergy here.
Read Part 2 - where Beth takes us through the challenges and risks of eating out with an allergy here.
Read Part 3 - in which Beth explains what it’s like to travel with her allergy here.
Read Part 4 - Beth’s guide to allergy-aware shopping, both food and non-food items here.
Read Part 5 - where Beth explores the impact of her allergy on the lives of her friends and family here.
And here’s one of the most important things we learned from Beth -that we can all play our part in helping to safeguard allergy sufferers. Here’s her advice on how you can help your family members, friends, colleagues and acquaintances who suffer from severe allergies.
- Triggers. Know exactly what the person is allergic to. Whether that is when it is cooked, raw or both. Know how much they can typically tolerate before a reaction.
- Signs of a reaction. Learn to identify a reaction. What are the symptoms of their allergic reaction? Some signs are subtle. Remember that allergic reactions can change very quickly and so can the symptoms.
- Know what to do in an emergency. Know where they keep their medication, and what steps you need to take to help them and get them the urgent medical assistance they need.
- Be curious. If you want to know something, just ask. The more you know the better. Asking questions shows you care, and want to understand the condition. The more you spend time with someone who has an allergy the more likely you are to come across different situations and understand what to do.
- Be their advocate. Having an allergy can be scary and intimidating. If you can tell they feel uncomfortable, speak up for them. Sometimes all we need is a little support.
- Encourage – but be sympathetic. Encourage your friend or family member to enjoy life. To not be embarrassed or feel guilty. At the same time understand that as much as they might long to do something, it might not be physically possible for them. That can be hard to deal with, without feeling pressured at the same time. Life is a little different with allergies but that is okay.