Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Listening In

By Ryan, age 18. Allergic to soy and peanuts.

If I met someone who had just been diagnosed with food allergies, I would not offer much besides an understanding ear to listen. There is little I could really say that would be meaningful or useful to them. When someone’s newly diagnosed, they probably just want their food allergies to go away.

Unless they specifically asked for me to relate my stories and coping strategies, I think it would be best all around to just listen to them. They probably have a lot to say about their feelings and experiences from being newly diagnosed.

If they had experienced anaphylaxis, they would probably want to talk to me about being rushed to the hospital and how their body felt during the reaction. It is traumatic for anyone, but especially for a young person, to realize that they had a near-death experience simply from eating a food. They were probably in the company of family or friends, and their family would be recovering from the shock as well, unable to offer much consolation themselves.

So, I think a newly diagnosed person would be seeking someone like me, who is already living with food allergies—someone who could listen to their story, their fears, their frustrations. Listening to them is what I would do to help, to try and get them to feel comfortable with their food allergies.

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