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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.