5 Ways to Cope With That One Friend Who’s Allergic to Everything

by Carmen Woodruff
Carmen Woodruff

May 9th – 15th marks National Food Allergy Week and I’m here for it because I’m allergic to everything.

I’m that friend. One mistaken food choice can impact my entire week. But when did food allergies become a thing? I mean, did you ever hear your grandparents complaining about that gosh darn dairy or witness them dodging dessert?


They ate the real, rich stuff: freshly whipped butter, made-from-scratch chocolate cake, piping hot apple pie with ingredients from the garden, juicy pot roast from the butcher. Maybe the “with” and “from” are the keywords in this equation. They knew where their food came “from” and prepared it “with” homegrown fixings.

Today, we try our hardest to emulate that same ideal from farm-to-table root veggies to organic this and grass-fed that. But when and where did things take a turn for the worst? Why are there pesticides on my strawberries? What spawned the need to make my red delicious so shiny and coated that I can engrave my initials on it with my fingernails? Why can’t I eat a sandwich with bread anymore? Or enjoy a cold glass of soda with girlfriends?

As we try to get to the bottom of this perplexity, here’s a fascinating yet terrifying infographic on the “fundamental changes in our food supply” from The Grow Network.

And below are five ways to cope with that one friend who’s allergic to everything:

1.) Don’t invite her anywhere IRL.

One positive outcome of pandemic life is pressing the pause button on the restaurant round table with that one friend. On a typical dining excursion, she auctions with the server, raising him this for that in her witty food substitution bidding banter. The back and forth goes on for 60 minutes it seems and when her plate is presented with yours, it still contains something that will have her doubled over in food allergy disdain.

Solution #1: Organize a Zoom dinner night where everyone prepares their own meals and eats together virtually. She’ll bring her plate of ice and you’ll be able to indulge in all of your favorites.

2.) Prepare a food allergy emergency kit.

Complete with peppermint tea, smelling salts, a sickness bag and an EpiPen, you should be covered, whether it be a food sensitivity, a food intolerance or a food allergy. If you do venture out on a socially distanced park picnic, have all of these things ready, complete with an assembly line of gal pals.

They’ll gear up and help you out should things go down the wrong road for that one friend. And drive easy on the way home; that one friend may struggle with motion sickness too. Speaking for a friend, of course, or maybe even as that one friend.

Solution #2: See solution #1.

3.) Get ethnic.

A remedy and delicious solution to my food allergies has been ethnic food. I’ve eliminated all meat from my diet and traded in on the bone—not to be confused with the Urban Dictionary definition—texture for seasonings and flavor. For example, Indian cuisine contains many vegan options, skipping the dairy and even aiding inflammation with curry and cumin. Mediterranean fare boasts healthy oils and fats and tons of garlic, its healing powers comparable to that of an antibiotic. Thai food, complete with lemongrass and coconut milk can wash food intolerance woes away and soothe the soul.

Solution #3: Plan an “Eat Pray Love” girls trip abroad and don’t skip the yoga! It supports digestion just in case that one friend was tempted by those street pastries sold by the handsome guy on the corner. If you’re too leery to fly overseas these days, Netflix it and refer back to solution #1.

4.) Adopt that one friend’s healthy habits.

Summer’s around the corner and of course we celebrate all shapes and body types, but for those of us who’ve put on a few unwanted pounds, check out that one friend’s food elimination list. Follow it strictly. You may just lose a dress size or two or even slip into that two-piece in time for summertime selfies. Ditch the ice cream and put down the champagne flute. Join in on that post lunch 20-minute walk to stimulate your metabolism and support her in speeding up her sluggish system.

Solution #4: Make that friend’s diet work for you, sister, and get ready for your cannonball! Maybe not in your two-piece, though…

5.) Call your grandmother.

How does that recipe go again? And where should the garden be positioned? What’s the best oven setting? And for how long? Map out a strategy to grow and cultivate your own at-home oasis of food allergy free nutrition and goodness. Serve up your culinary creations with confidence, testing them out on your family before offering them to that one friend. Have a plate of ice ready, just in case.

Solution #5: Go out and make this world a better place in support of that one friend you’ve now become!

Or revisit trusty solution #1.

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