Advocating For Yourself At Work With Food Allergies

I started a new job recently.  I try to usually ease in with my allergies.  I don’t want to come off too intense or overly concerned, especially since I’m not either one.  I was pushed into telling my new colleagues about them though at my full time job in an elementary school when I realized nuts were everywhere.  The other teachers in the room I am based out of each day had started a diet for the new year.  In this diet, nuts are a big part of what you are allowed to eat.  Once I saw everyone eating the almonds, I was concerned.  I told them about my food allergies, and explained that they could still eat them, but if they were touching the doors, or papers or anything I also touch, that I would really appreciate them washing their hands.


That afternoon my lips felt a little puffy.  I decided it was probably from touching something that somebody who was eating nuts had touched, then touching my face.  I took Benedryl and was fine.  It did make me even more mindful of washing my hands more frequently, and speaking up about my allergies again if I needed to.  The people I am working with don’t seem very knowledgeable about allergies.  I will try to educate them when opportunities present themselves.  I’m surprised that in this school environment, these teachers seem so naive and unaware.  I realized how crucial advocating for yourself at work is when you have food allergies!


I know that schools are a big concern to parents.  When I was in elementary school, there were no signs on the door, or pictures of students hanging in the lunch room that had food allergies.  There were no “allergy-free” tables, rooms, or zones.  I was the only one in any of the three different school districts that I went to that had anaphylactic allergies.  Of course my parents were my biggest advocates, but being the only one with allergies made it even more imperative to know how to take care of myself!


  1. Jess,
    Yeah, I was surprised too! It is a public school, and there are no mandatory regulations in schools for food allergies, so each school is different. Thanks for the message and encouragement!!!

  2. I understand how you feel re easing into telling your work mates about your allergies.

    Personally im completely shocked that the Teachers are eating nuts at the school, In Australia most private schools are completely nut free & it looks like the public schools are going to be going in that direction as well.

    I hope you are able to educate your fellow educators about allergies and the importance of washing your hands after you eat.

    Good luck and i look forward to more of your posts.

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