17.9.15

Getting On My High Horse about Allergies

allergies intolerance bad advice gluten free dairy free
This week I read an article on Femme Intemporelle which caused me great concern. I was deeply saddened by the post titled "Living with Food Allergies: How to make it easier on yourself." When I was told over twitter that the article would not be changed and it was written and edited by people with intolerances/allergies, I was left scratching my head. 

I have lived with allergies for almost forty years (officially diagnosed when I was 10). I am part of the Allergy Community on Twitter and have helped judge for the Free From Awards so I asked my fellow followers for their thoughts on the piece. Not surprisingly they were equally concerned. After much discussion online I was sadden to see a tweet which read "People really like to get on their high horse about things when they think their way is the only way" I assume it was referring to the allergy community otherwise it was coincidental.

So let me explain why I am "on my high horse". The concerns I have are the title and content are conflicting with one another. For me, the article reads as guidance for those living with intolerances and not allergies. Whilst the two conditions overlap, lets not forget that allergies are often life threatening. When I read the sentence "I know it can make life difficult for others trying to accommodate me and my irritable stomach" in my opinion, this would imply the author has a food intolerance. I do understand how debilitating intolerances can be but they shouldn't be confused with IgE allergies. With that in mind, it was the final bullet point that had me sweating.

5. If it’s worth it, go for it. Sometimes (despite knowing you can’t eat something) you’re going to, whether by accident or on purpose. Don’t stress - if it’s worth it to you, then why not. It’s your body, and you’re the one whose got to live with the consequences that follow eating something you shouldn’t.

The editor argues "If you know you have a severe allergy you're not going to eat something that will severely upset you! It's common sense" but is it right to assume this? Allergy Mum UK responded "It's potentially dangerous advice not least for young teens who may be reading...if you're an impressionable young teen feeling frustrated at the restrictions your allergy places on you?" 

Anaphlyaxis Campaign's #TakeTheKit is raising awareness of the severity of anaphylaxis and the importance of carrying emergency medication. The video supporting this campaign is well worth watching and sharing - YouTube link.  I recently read (via a tweet) that a survey of 500 young people revealed that 44% of sufferers between 15 and 25 do not always carry their adrenaline injectors (epi-pens).

I'm not suggesting the original article needs completely rewriting as some points were valid but I do think it needs a change in title or a disclaimer and clarification on the difference between the two conditions. The confusion happens when the author writes "Because living with an allergy isn't always easy, here are my five tips for staying on top of your allergies ....." then finishes with "Do you suffer with food intolerances that make life a little tricky?" If you offer advice to the general public chose your words wisely and it may seem obvious to some but please don't play Russian Roulette with your food allergies.

If you require further support or advice on allergies visit anaphylaxis.org.uk and allergyuk.org

Sarah x

18.09.15 - the title of the article on Femme Intemporelle has now been changed.

8 comments:

  1. As a nurse this level of stupidity makes my blood boil. Having dealt with anaphylaxis I cannot believe how irresponsible people can be.

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    1. Thank you Karen for your feedback and I totally agree with you, very irresponsible

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  2. LOL what even. I just read the article. As someone who has a severe nut allergy, I'm not going to 'go for it' because I really fancy that slice of chocolate cake. The author sounds woefully ignorant and seems to have rather confused allergies and intolerances.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback Laura, totally agree with you, I just wish the people behind the blog could see this :(

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  3. I see Femme Irresponsibelle have changed the title. Their editor is calling those who complained to her 'idiots'. If our complaints were idiotic, why did she make the change? Name-calling rather than engaging with the issue raised - we must have really riled her. Good.

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    1. I have seen her project this attitude over many things in the years I have been blogging, really shame that she takes this approach, disappoints me greatly. Glad to hear she changed the title

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  4. I always correct my friends when they say "Oh that's right, you have an allergy to wheat and dairy don't you?" I scored a 'medium' severity in my food INTOLERANCE test, so I always correct them, as I don't want them seeing me eating a pizza and thinking food allergies mustn't be that dangerous, or that I'm now in need of medical attention!
    I heard of a little boy with a peanut allergy that had to be rushed to hospital because he'd played on park swings were there was some peanut oil residue - he was fine but wow that's scary!

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    1. I think peanut allergy has to be the one that we all know most about, very scary how some people can react to the smallest amount.

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