Why Food Allergies and Bullying Should Be Taken Seriously

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From adults to children, keeping away from their food allergies requires a team of people to help. Being supportive towards someone with food allergies can help them live safer and healthier lives. But what happens when people aren't supportive? Bullying can take many forms and hurt the victims, emotionally and physically. Food allergy bullying should never be taken lightly, especially when the allergy is life threatening. From family to students, some may take food allergies and use it for their own devices. Here are two stories of how food allergy bullying affected a teacher and a daughter-in-law. If you suspect you or someone you love is being bullied due to food allergies, read our blog article about how to spot and stop food allergy bullying.

Middle Schoolers' Prank

An art teacher at a Columbus, Ohio school made it very clear to all her students: her classroom is a banana free zone. Any who enter her classroom must wash her hands before entering if they ate bananas that day. Mrs. Woods has a deadly food allergy to bananas so these rules are very important to keeping her safe and alive. Last November, however, three seventh-graders ignored the banana free zone rule. 

The three students smeared a banana on her classroom door and started to throw bananas at her. Mrs. Woods went into anaphylactic shock in less than 15 minutes. She was rushed to the hospital where she thankfully recovered from the student’s ‘prank’. 

An assault case was opened against the three students, who were sentenced to probation through juvenile court.  

Careless In-Laws

In a recent ‘Dear Polly’ letter, an anonymous daughter-in-law tells her story about her in-laws and how they bully her in regards to food allergies. The daughter-in-law has a severe food allergy to mushrooms, one that has hospitalized her multiple times. When she started to date her husband, he explained to his parents about her allergies. With family meals, however, the in-laws add mushrooms to everything. 

“One time, they made a point to make a special plate of mushrooms and pass it around. My mother-in-law said, very rudely, “I would’ve liked to add mushrooms directly to the salad, but SOMEBODY has problems with it!” They even added mushroom powder to the mashed potatoes at one holiday dinner. My mother-in-law claimed it was a new recipe she’d found.”

Her husband said that mushrooms aren’t even a common dish for his family, not until he started dating her. By the time she got pregnant, her husband informed his parents that if they don’t keep the meals allergen-free, they will not participate anymore. His own father retorted with “We can’t promise that. Everyone except your wife likes mushrooms, and we’re not changing what we eat for one person.” 

With how her in-laws treat her food allergies, it’s caused a rift between them. Her in-laws never get to see their grandchildren, her sister-in-law stopped talking to them, and her brother-in-law says that she should forgive them and move on. 

In both these stories, food allergies were either not taken seriously or are used as a tool for bullying.  Sometimes people may not believe others when informed of allergies, as only a 1/4th of Americans have medical proof about their allergies. People may also be ignorant when it comes to allergies, thinking it's only a food preference. No matter the scenario, playing with someone's food allergies should never be allowed. Learning how to stop bullying will create a safer place for those with food allergies. 

Have you dealt with food allergy bullying? If so, how have you overcome it? Comment below and share your thoughts and stories with us! Do you want your story to be shared on our blog? Check out our Share Your Story form!

Stef PenrodComment