As a partially sighted individual with food allergies, managing my allergies has been challenging. For example, when I’m eating at a restaurant, the menu isn’t always written in large print, or when I go food shopping, it’s often difficult to read the ingredients on food packaging. Because of this, I’ve learned to take a proactive approach towards managing my allergies so I’m able to eat safely at home or when I’m dining out.
I hope you will learn something from my advice to help you better manage your food allergies. Even if you don’t have a food allergy, you may know someone who has one so you can pass on the advice to them.
Firstly, get to know your allergy medication. If you have little or no sight make sure you have a feel of what your medication looks like. If you carry an Epipen then it’s vital that you’re trained how to use it. You can book an appointment with your allergy clinic at your local hospital via a GP referral to get training. Moreover, if you carry different medication, you can add labels on them to tell them apart easily. A list of different types of labels (i.e. audio, tactile) sold by the RNIB can be found by clicking on this link: https://bit.ly/1Z7pOsy. Also, remember to have your medication next to you at the table when you’re dining out so it’s at arm’s reach if you ever need it.
Secondly, use assistive technology. There are many smartphone Apps such as the Seeing AI app which can read back to you if you point the phone’s camera at text. If you aren’t tech savvy or own a smartphone, don’t be shy to ask someone to help you read the menu or food label. If you have some sight always carry around a hand-held magnifier. At home, use large print labels on food containers, or you can use different numbers of rubber bands to identify different tinned products.
Thirdly, this one may seem obvious- tell people about your allergies. When I dine out, I always notify the server or restaurant manager of my peanut and tree nut allergy so they can check if they’re able to provide me a nut-free meal. Furthermore, talking openly about your allergies raises awareness as you’ll be surprised that not everyone knows that having a food allergy can be fatal.
Written by Ray Calamaan, ELVis Communications Coordinator