Staying Positive About My Allergies

Guest post by Teen Advisory Group member Kate Stack

“Better safe than sorry!”, “It can’t be that bad, right?” and my personal favorite, “It doesn’t taste that good anyway!” are all things teens with food allergies hear on the daily. While there can be truth to some of these, it can be hard to manage the constant exclusion and deal with situations regarding your allergies. As a teen, there are a LOT of pressures to try new things. For those of us with food allergies, those new things often can’t include new foods at parties or other events. It can all be pretty discouraging, but here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned to help stay (mostly) positive.

1. Surround yourself with those who “get it.”

Don’t be afraid to share your allergies with others, especially if there is a concern. You never know when you won’t be the only one in the crowd having to avoid the snack table. Being able to rely on friends is helpful. Throughout my years in TAG and attending Teen Summits I’ve been able to virtually connect with other teens. When I find myself in a not-so-fun situation, I often text them for advice or to make a relatable joke out of the experience.

2. Comedy can help release the tension.

I tend to get pretty “fed up” when my allergy causes yet another nuisance. While being respectful, I try to come up with a joke to tell my other allergic friends and family later about the situation. This helps me remember to keep perspective and there can be some light in the bad. Considering I’ve had a peanut allergy since I was three, I am personally nuts for a good pun to crack up everyone.

3. Focus your energy into something creative.

It can be easy to let your frustration about your allergies build up overtime. A creative outlet can be a way to release some of the negative energy. Many people enjoy making music, photography, or art about their struggles. After being bullied for our food allergies at school, a friend and I made a PSA video spreading our anti-bullying message. This was able to combine my love for photography and writing to create something to help other people.

4. Advocacy can feel empowering.

Advocating for allergies can mean a whole range of things, and don’t be afraid to try something unique. Advocacy can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like. Examples of advocacy include educating your peers about allergies or wearing teal during Food Allergy Awareness Week. Knowing you’re helping to educate the world and making an impact for yourself and others is a pretty great feeling.

5. Own your allergies and be confident.

I tend to be pretty self-conscious. Sometimes I worry if people see my auto-injector sticking out of my pocket or see me whipping out a safe snack of my own at a party. But most of the time, nobody cares. They’re too worried about their own problems. And if they do ask, respond nonchalantly.

I understand that it isn’t always possible to be optimistic all the time. I’ve had my fair share of wanting to scream into a pillow or wanting to dump the whole tray of peanut butter cookies into the trash. But over time I have been able to grow and find new coping skills in dealing with my allergies. It isn't always easy, but with the right strategies and support, it can be manageable. And positivity is something no one is allergic to.

What would you add to this list?