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8 Things You Should NEVER Say to a Food Allergy Mom or Dad!

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It was a sunny day and I was sitting on the bleachers watching my son play football when I noticed a mom from the team passing out treats for her son’s birthday. Being a food allergy mom, I bounced up and sprung into action.  

I checked the label and told my son, “Sorry, this isn’t safe for you.”  I was expecting to move on with my day but then a bystander turned to me and remarked, “Back in my day we didn’t have food allergies.  Maybe he needs to play in the dirt some more.”  I was furious!

I’m sure this person didn’t mean to offend me, but that happens sometimes when you remark on a topic you don’t have direct experience with. Sometimes we don’t know what to say to someone going through something we haven’t experienced first hand. 

If you don’t have food allergies and are talking to someone who deals with food allergies you want to be sure to avoid comments that could be construed as offensive. 

Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.   Keep in mind food production can change, always check food labels to be sure products are free of your particular food allergen.  For further information please see full Disclaimer.

8 Things You Should *NEVER* Say to a Food Allergy Mom or Dad!

Below are the top 8 things you should never say to a food allergy mom or dad.

Things you should NEVER say to a Food Allergy Mom or Food Allergy Dad.

1.  Oh, she will outgrow it!

I think this is the most common response food allergy parents get from someone who doesn’t know as much about food allergies.

If it were just that easy!  Time will heal all wounds, right?  Not in the food allergy world.  It’s hard!  We would love for our children to outgrow their food allergies.  

And guess what, some kids do.  But that being said, many don’t.

Certain food allergies such as a tree nut allergy have as low as a 9% chance of a child outgrowing the allergy (1).   The chances of a child outgrowing a peanut allergy are about 20% (2).

2. You are overreacting!

This is not something any food allergy mom or dad wants to hear.  Food allergies are something that must be thought about every day and every single time a child eats.

Food allergy caregivers are often hypervigilant when put into social situations where food is brought in by someone else.

As a food allergy mom, I have tried not to draw attention to my child’s food  allergies, which is difficult to do!  I don’t want my child feeling like he is different from everyone else and I don’t always feel like going over things for the millionth time about what my child can and can not eat  But, I do!   And I do it often.

A good example is if someone brings in snacks for sports.  Yes, I could bring in something different for my kid (and often do), but I want him to feel included.  

I have tried many times to quietly look at the snack bought for the football game and had someone ask, “What are you doing?”  I explain that I am checking food labels because my child has food allergies.  Like clockwork they ask “what are they allergic to?”  I respond “Tree Nuts.”  

*All you tree nut food allergy moms and dads know what I am about to say!*

After a 10 minute conversation on what a  tree nut actually is and how it is in fact different than a peanut the proclaimed authoritative figure will say “there aren’t any nuts in those.”  

Many don’t understand cross contamination risk.

3. I couldn’t live without [insert food]! I would die!

Actually, it is the opposite.   A child with a milk allergy could possibly die if they ate pizza with cheese.

Please don’t say this to someone with a food allergy.  

4. Did you have a good diet when you were pregnant?

Another horrible comment.  Although the person saying this has good intentions it makes the mother feel like she had some kind of role or part in her child now having a food allergy.

We all did the best we could!

5. Well, thank goodness it happened to you!

I hate this one.  I am a Registered Dietitian and I have a child with food allergies.  Everyone constantly says how good it is that this happened to me because I have the knowledge base to help treat the allergy.

Guess what?  I don’t want to have a child with food allergies.  No one does.  

The same thing is said to so many parents.  Not because they are a Registered Dietitian, but maybe because they are loving and attentive.  

This statement needs to be worded differently.  Something like, “He is lucky to have you as his mom! I know you are taking good care of him.”

6. Oh, so he is lactose intolerant?

No, a milk allergy is not the same as lactose intolerance.  A fish allergy is not the same as a shellfish allergy.  A tree nut allergy is not the same as a peanut allergy.  A wheat allergy is not the same as a gluten sensitivity.

Food Allergies, intolerance, and sensitivities are different.

7. I didn’t invite [insert child’s name] to the party because of his food allergies.

Ouch!  I mean this one hurts my heart.  Most parents of children with food allergies want their kids included.  

Although a party may have foods that might not be safe for the kid with food allergies, parents can and often do make special accommodations so that their child can still be part of celebrations.

For example, the parents might pack their child’s food.  Or the child may come after the dinner or dessert.  

That being said, if a parent is not staying at a party, you may be asking an adult to be responsible for administering epinephrine in case of an emergency.  And that is no joke.  

In the end, children with food allergies really want to be included and part of things but the person throwing the party and the caregiver of the child with food allergies have to be comfortable with the plan in place. 

8. A little [insert food allergen] won’t hurt!

One bite is all it can take for some children to go into anaphylaxis.


Although you may not have ill intentions when making comments about food allergies, you may saying something that feels unkind or ignorant or invalidating.

Interested in gifts for yourself or others to help spread food allergy awareness?  Read my post on my top 5 gift recommendations for food allergy awareness.

Be sure to comment on this post.  I’d love to hear from you about what things have been said to you through the years when dealing with food allergies.

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