Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Telling My Teammates About My Food Allergies

by Caitlin, age 14. Allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.

One tough experience that I’ve had with my food allergy was when I tried out for the volleyball team at my high school. I was thrilled on the last day of tryouts when I found out that I had made the junior varsity team. During practice the following week, the varsity team surprised us with “little sister” presents and partners. The “big sister–little sister” program is a tradition on the team where each JV player is partnered with a varsity player. The sisters buy each other candy and presents and decorate each other’s lockers before every game. The night we found out who our partners were, the big sisters gave us treat bags full of candy.

This was the first time I realized that the girls on the team didn’t know about my allergy. I was nervous about telling the coach because I wasn’t sure if they would understand. I knew that I had to let them know eventually and that it was important for my safety that night. So I went and told the coach. He was very nice and told the girls to put the bags away because of my allergy. To my surprise, the seniors who organized the whole thing started asking me questions about what kinds of things I could eat. Ironically, all the treats they had prepared happened to be safe for me to eat. It made me feel good that I told the coach and the girls on the team really wanted me to be safe.

All through the season, the team was wonderful in helping me manage my allergy on the bus, at away games, and during special events, such as senior night or team sleepovers. I was lucky to be with such a nice group of people, but also proud of myself for taking charge and keeping myself safe.

This experience helped me to be more comfortable moving to high school. I felt relieved that I knew there would be people there who already knew me and how to handle my allergy. It also helped me to be less apprehensive in regards to talking to my peers about being allergic to peanuts and how it affects my life. It opened my eyes to how considerate other teens can be about allergies. Although it seemed embarrassing and awkward at the time, I am glad that I had the volleyball season to help me embrace the responsibility that comes with having an allergy.

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