• Amanda Orlando, Everyday Allergen-Free

A Food Allergy Faux Pas—Laughter Saves the Day


What would you do if you were given a basket of almonds as a gift (and you have a nut allergy)? Find out how laughter can save the day, setting the stage for honest food allergy conversations and stronger friendships...

What would you do if you were given a basket of almonds as a gift (and you have a nut allergy)?


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It was a warm spring evening and my then boyfriend (now husband) and I were having some new friends over for dinner. Both Easter and Persian new year (Nowruz) were approaching and we decided to host some small dinner parties at our place. It was a much simpler way of seeing our family and friends for these special occasions than dealing with the inevitable invitations to restaurants.


Nuts are common in both of our cultures, Persian and Italian, and our friends and family know not to gift them to us or bring them to our home because of my allergies.


But no one is perfect and it’s inevitable that people will make mistakes.


When we opened the door that evening and saw one of our friends standing there with an oversized basket of raw almonds, all we could do was laugh and make light of the situation. Did you bring enough almonds for Amanda too?


As soon as our friend realized his mistake (immediately upon seeing our faces) he lamented his decision to bring the gift. What made it even funnier was that the basket was so extremely large, spectacularly topped off with a GINORMOUS bow. Our friend started apologizing profusely, explaining that he didn’t connect the dots because these were raw almonds that look more like a fruit than a nut, and are a gift traditionally given at Nowruz.


It was an honest mistake, and truthfully, the whole situation was very funny. My boyfriend ate some of them the following day while wearing gloves, then washed his hands, and gave the rest to his family and my dad to make sure they didn’t go to waste. We sanitized the kitchen just in case, and moved on, but of course we still bring it up from time to time just to tease our friend. It opened the door for more detailed conversations about my allergies.


...the perspective you take on situations and the mindset you apply can have a big impact on how things play out.


I think that the perspective you take on situations, and the mindset you apply, can have a big impact on how things will play out.


Had we taken the gift as an insult, taken it personally, or been upset with him for making a mistake, we would have lost a teachable moment and put an unnecessary amount of pressure on our friend and our friendship. People who do not live in the allergy world do not have our keen eye for allergens, and an error with a packaged hostess gift was something we could easily deal with understanding and humor.


Had I felt embarrassed or decided not to even address it, that would have been irresponsible and may have led to issues or miscommunications in the future. I think it’s important to always be honest and open about the realities of allergies. It doesn’t help you or the other person to gloss over an awkward situation.


In addition to mindset, it’s important to build a proper foundation through honesty. I like to think that I am always setting up foundations everywhere I go, in all of my social interactions. You need a solid foundation in order to build; without it, the structure is not secure and will topple. However, I don’t think foundations are built by oneself alone. If your friend or coworker or family member is not receptive, respectful, or considerate of your needs in regards to food allergies then there will never be that level of mutual trust and support needed for growth.


If our friend had been offended at us for laughing off {at?} his hostess gift, had he suggested that my allergies were the result of my own deficiencies, said that they don’t exist in his culture, that my life must suck, or one of the many rude comments that are often thrown the way of the allergy person, then I would have taken it as a cue that the foundation was not solid and would have acted accordingly.


The host gift faux pas was a small example, one slice of the much larger pie that is life with food allergies. But no matter the magnitude of the situation, we can always apply the two ideas of attitude and foundation.


Mistakes are an inevitability of being human, and we should be equipped to deal with them.


We can ask ourselves some simple questions:

  • Was this an honest mistake?

  • Was this personal?

  • How can I deal with this effectively?

  • Can I turn this into a teachable moment in a way that people will be receptive to the lesson?

  • Does the other person possess the propensity for consideration and understanding of food allergies?

These questions can help us to make some quick decisions in our head about how to react when awkward food allergy situations arise.


Food allergies are not an easy thing to manage because we do not exist in an environment of perfect conditions. How we respond to the unexpected things life throws at us not only has an impact on other people’s responses, but perhaps more importantly, on our own self confidence and general outlook.


Next time you find yourself confronted with a similar situation; I hope you will remember this story about the basket of almonds. (And please, have a little laugh at the fact that it was wrapped up with a GINORMOUS bow. Definitely...almonds with attitude!)


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About the Author: Amanda Orlando is the author and photographer of Everyone's Welcome, a food allergy aware and inclusive cookbook. She is the blogger behind everydayallergenfree.com, and she does freelance food photography and recipe development. You can also find her on YouTube at Amanda Orlando. Amanda has lived with multiple anaphylactic food allergies since she was a baby. She lives in Toronto, Canada.



Image Credit: Thank you for use of the images, Amanda and Wix


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