If you read my blog, you know I’ve had allergies and atopy for a very long time. So, I’ve had to tell a lot of people about my conditions. This has certainly become easier as I’ve gotten older, but there are still some things I really dislike hearing. I don’t dislike a lot of things, but inconsiderate remarks certainly make the grade. Here’s my top ten list of things people have actually said with responses I wish I’d said. Of course, I’m far too polite to actually say them, but I’ve definitely thought them. Like my post 10 Great Things About Being Allergic & Atopic, this is tongue-in-cheek and meant light-heartedly.

1. Oh my god. If I couldn’t eat (insert food allergen here), I’d die.

Personally, I find that the threat of death is pretty good for my self-control.

2. You’re allergic to eggs, nuts, milk and shellfish? Wow! I guess you couldn’t have a peanut butter and shrimp milkshake with an egg. Ha-ha-ha!

Yeah, I guess not. Tragic, really. Sounds lovely.

3. You must not be able to eat anything at all!

Yes, that’s right. I live on water and air. I’m like a hydroponic plant. Military scientists are actually trying to clone me.

4. Well, you don’t look sick.

That’s because I’m not sick. I’m probably healthier than you are and a have a lower risk of certain types of cancer, though it would be impolite to point that out; so, I won’t.

5. You’re allergic to all of that? What on earth do you eat?


6. So can you eat cheese or butter?

Last time I checked, those were made of milk; so, no.

How about cream cheese?

Still made of milk.


Without cheese.

So, I guess you can’t have cheesecake.

You do know that milk doesn’t grow in cartons, right?

7. Well, there’s a just a little bit of egg on it.

Well, I guess I’ll just have a little bit of anaphylaxis then. Thank you.

8.  That must be absolutely horrible.

I would think that living without clean water and access to food and education would be horrible. I guess everyone has different priorities.

9. Your skin looks wonderful!

I’m wearing make-up.

Still, it’s beautiful. You’re glowing.

Honestly, it’s the make-up.

But, the texture is wonderful.

Oh….well, I…um, thank you. (Okay, that’s clearly one I love hearing. Anyone is welcome to tell me that anytime. You can stop me on the street and tell me that and I’ll probably give you a hug or pay for your child’s university tuition. One child per compliment.)

10.Wow, you’re such a survivor!

Being that I’ve never been stranded on a desert island or survived a plane crash in the Arctic, I don’t see how that’s the case.*

11. You should live in a bubble. Ha-ha!

A bubble, huh? Haven’t heard that one before. Really quite original. Really. Hysterical even.

12. You must have a PhD. in Pain.

Notwithstanding the fact that you’re using a quote from The Simpsons seriously, I don’t think that “Pain” is a recognized discipline at any university in the world.

That’s the end of the list. Obviously, I’m not advocating that anyone respond to any of these types of ignorant remarks in a rude or sarcastic fashion. As difficult as it may be, it’s better to stay calm and explain that the comment in question is not appropriate. Remember a lot of people try to use “humour” in situations where they feel uncomfortable or don’t know how to respond. If you have allergies or atopy, you’re an ambassador and it’s an opportunity to make people think differently and openly. The best thing we can do is educate others (and joke around on blogs).

Is there something you really dislike hearing? Let me know what it is and how you handle it.

*NB: I personally do not like being labelled as survivor. I have been rather fortunate and find the term overly-dramatic for my situation. However, I don’t begrudge others with more severe conditions or experiences who wish to use this term as it’s likely more apt in their cases.


I developed eczema within a few days after my birth and from the ages of nine to 17, I began to develop other atopic conditions, environmental, animal and food allergies, including eggs, dairy, shellfish and some nuts. Now, in my 30s, I have a good handle on everything, but I’m always trying to see how I can make things better by living a healthier lifestyle. My background includes public relations and healthcare communications. So, I use my skills to share my atopic and allergic experiences on my blog – Atopic Girl’s Guide to Living, with the goal of helping allergic and atopic teens and adults, since growing up and dealing with allergies and atopy is a lesson in itself. I also microblog on Twitter @AtopicGirl It's not just about figuring out what to eat. It's about finding out how to live well!

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