Myths and Misconceptions About Food Sensitivities & Allergies

Myths and Misconceptions About Food Sensitivities & Allergies

Ever since my sister had to remove gluten, dairy, and soy from her diet, I’ve seen and heard so many myths and misconceptions. I started Gluten-Free Spirited nearly three years ago and I’ve read a lot of myths and misconceptions in my comments and across social media.

Food allergy meme
TFW people think your food allergies/sensitivities don’t exist.

Common myths and misconceptions

One of the biggest misconceptions is that going gluten-free equals weight loss. This is propelled by the dieting market that makes gluten-free trendy or a fad diet. Removing gluten from diet solely for weight loss is not recommended. Not everyone loses weight by eating gluten-free. Some people do lose weight, but this is probably related to less bloating and/or inflammation from gluten sensitivities/allergies. Surprise! Gluten-free foods still have carbs, especially pasta.

Knowledge is power Click To Tweet

Another big myth is that the food tastes like cardboard and you have limited options. Sure, Nikki has come across food that tastes awful. Many of the options don’t taste exactly like what you’re used to in. In some cases, it’s the alternative or nothing at all. There has been a lot of trial and error, but Nikki has found many options that fit her dietary needs and give her variety. If you follow GFS on social media, you’ll see food she recommends (and doesn’t). Many of my blogposts are recipes that she likes and thinks you will too. Also, if you join my mailing list, you’ll receive a FREE Beginners Guide to Dietary Restriction Friendly Essentials Checklist which has many food and beverages that my sister recommends. Even though I don’t have dietary restrictions, I’ve tried a lot of the food and recipes and I like them too.

Feedback from others

I knew that Nikki wasn’t the only one experiencing myths and misconceptions about her dietary needs. I decided to ask about experiences that others have gotten in various Facebook groups that I’m in. There was a lot of feedback.

Here’s a sampling of what was shared with me:

-People think that eggs are dairy (this came up several times).

-You shouldn’t be so uptight about the foods you eat.

-Allergies in babies are really just colic.

-Being allergic to dairy means they’re lactose intolerant.

-Babies & young kids will just grow out of their allergy.

-Allergies/sensitivities are all in your head.

-Having a soy allergy just means you can’t have soy sauce.

-Breast milk is equal to dairy.

-You’re depriving yourself.

-Eating just a little bit of gluten will help you build up an intolerance.

-People dismissing how bad their symptoms really are.

-Asking for a special diet is a choice.

-“You can just have a salad.”

-That it’s so easy now because so many things are gluten-free.

-Peanut allergies are easy because all schools are peanut free.

-Dairy-free and egg-free are the same thing.

-“Cleansing” reduces your chances of having an allergic reaction.

Photographic evidence of myths and misconceptions:

 

FB comment about food sensitivity myths
An actual myth

 

FB comment of food sensitivities misconceptions
Sometimes servers don’t get it either.

 

FB comment food sensitivities misconceptions
Knowledge is power.

 

FB comment about food sensitivity myths
This is infuriating

 

FB comment about food sensitivity myths
This is definitely a myth.

 

FB comment about food sensitivity myths
A list of misconceptions

 

FB comment about food sensitivity myths
More misconceptions

 

FB comment about food sensitivity myths
People are NOT overreacting when it comes to food sensitivities/allergies/intolerances

Believe When I Say

Another takeaway is people with food sensitivities/allergies just want to be included. Make an effort to have options for them at gatherings. Sure, it’s easier for them to bring their own food and beverages (most of them do). So much of gatherings for birthdays, weddings, holidays, etc. revolve around food. It can be easy to provide options. My sister has gone to family birthday parties and there was literally nothing she could eat. Hell, plain Lays potato chips are at least an option. Having a cookout with a guest that has dietary restrictions? I got you.

My overall takeaway from the feedback I received is that people aren’t educated and don’t take the time to learn or understand because it doesn’t effect them directly. If they can’t see it, it can’t be that bad. You can’t always tell when someone has diabetes, HIV/AIDS, kidney failure, or cancer. You don’t question their diagnosis, so why would you question someone with a food sensitivity or allergy?

I can’t stress this enough: if someone tells you that they have a food allergy/intolerance/sensitivity, BELIEVE THEM. When they tell them that eating or drinking something causes physical pain, bloating, diarrhea, etc., take their word for it. Show some empathy. You can read more about what to do if someone you love has an invisible illness. Thanks for coming to my TEDTalk.

Another helpful resource: the lowdown on the low FODMAP diet

As always, sharing is caring. Be sure to follow GFS on social media utilizing the fancy buttons below.

Feel free to share your experience with me in the comments.

People's food allergies/sensitivities are as bad as they say they are Click To Tweet

49 thoughts on “Myths and Misconceptions About Food Sensitivities & Allergies”

  1. I can’t believe people would ever think food allergies or sensitivities are in your head! I mean, they’re scientifically proven. Although we live in a world where people don’t vaccinate their kids and believe the earth is flat, so I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised.

  2. I have dealt with this very thing myself with people thinking food allergies are in my head! I cannot eat eggs or oatmeal I get really sick but, I have been told by some family members it’s all in my head!!

    • Kim, I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had to deal with ignorance about your food allergies. It’s something that people really should try to better understand and be empathetic to.

  3. I think there are a lot of illnesses that people consider to be “in your head”. I suffer from anxiety disorder and I am told that on a regular basis.

    • Heather, I know what you mean. I’m sorry to hear that people treat your anxiety disorder as something that isn’t happening to you. Hopefully, people will be more understanding and empathetic towards invisible illnesses.

    • I think that’s the thing that dumbfounded me the most; some people really think others are making up food sensitivities/allergies. If they only knew what these people were experiencing!

    • Kami, I’d like to read your post about it. Please feel to share it with me. It would be so much better if others could take the time to be more empathetic towards the things they don’t understand.

  4. This is such a great article to read and be well informed. As we all know that everybody or such individual has their own allergy when it comes to food but sometimes a misconception. It’s really some case to others.

    • Thanks, Catherine. I hope it helps to clear up some of the myths & misconceptions surrounding food allergies/sensitivities and gives others a better understanding.

  5. Thank you for sharing this. It has been a piece of great information about food allergies. A must share post, especially for moms.

  6. Such a great information. This can really be an eye opener for others to know what is the truth about Food Allergies.

  7. I am not allergic to anything but I totally believe people who say they suffer from allergies. What I don’t believe is people trying to load off their kids to preschool when they are clearly sick with fever and saying they just have an allergy.

  8. There are certain things that I can’t eat so I always bring something. People don’t tend to think about other needs because they’re so use to their own eating ways. I understand so I make it my business to speak up about what I can and cannot and restaurants I can enjoy and can’t. Good post maybe more people will learn something. Lol

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