Job Decisions With Food Allergies

This morning, I was contemplating job decisions over a cup of tea at Starbucks. It reminded me of how I would never work at Starbucks because of my allergies. There are nut coffee flavors, nut drinks, nut desserts, and all of which I would likely be responsible to either make or touch if I were an employee. That is one difficulty with food allergies. It does cut down on some of the potential jobs, especially when you are younger.

I worked in restaurants as both a hostess and a server during high school and college.  By doing this, I knew I was taking a risk. I’ve worked at a breakfast diner, three Italian restaurants, and a burger type restaurant. The only place I served food was at two of the Italian restaurants.  I felt fairly comfortable working at these places because there were few or no nuts and the only food I had to be careful of was fish.  I managed to do a fairly good job of not touching the foods I am allergic to. There were a few times I broke out in hives on my hands and neck, but nothing that greatly concerned me.  Having food allergies certainly doesn’t make working in restaurants easy though.  I never made it well-known that I had food allergies while working at these establishments because I didn’t think managers would hire me or want to have me continue working there.  They knew I had allergies, but I doubt they understood the severity.  At that time, so few people ever came in with allergies and restaurants really weren’t educated about them.  I never once had a customer come in with food allergies, so it really was quite rare!

Although I have no intentions of becoming the next Top Chef on Bravo, that certainly would not have been a possibility either. However, participating in the Amazing Race may actually have been my calling. Unfortunately, due to the random clues involving food in places all around the world, I am afraid that impedes on my likelihood of becoming a contestant. I always thought I might be a good option for Real World on MTV because of my allergies. They haven’t had anyone on there with anaphylaxis. It can make life interesting to the outside observer I suppose! I’m sure they would create drama in some way. A roommate would probably complain about having separate dishes or having my own foods in the refrigerator. I can picture it now…

I would wake up one morning to find my entire stash of food mostly gone and clearly picked through from my roommates who spent their night drinking, then came home and ravaged through my allergy-safe food.

This scenario has actually happened to me before.  I was living on an island two summer’s ago in the staff house for my work with six other people.  We had one refrigerator to fit all of our food in.  I kept my food in a small blue cooler on a shelf inside the refrigerator in hopes that it would be left alone.  The non-refrigerator food I kept in my room.  Since there were so many of us all living together, I didn’t trust the dishes or really anything to be safe or clean for my allergies.  I rewashed everything before I used it.  It was difficult to cook there, and I found myself eating sandwiches for both lunch and dinner.

One morning I woke up.  I remember being woken up quite a few times throughout the previous night from the noise that carried so well throughout the entire house.  I went for my usual run before work, then came back and was hungry.  I went into the fridge.  My cooler had clearly been raided through the night before.  The food was all touched and had to be thrown away.  The people I was living with, although they knew about my allergies, certainly did not “get it,” or even care enough to try.  I ended up taking the small locks off my backpacking backpack and having to lock up my food in the cooler.  I felt kind of ridiculous doing so, but food is expensive, and I didn’t want to waste money replacing it everyday because of my roommates.  I also didn’t want to worry that my food may not be safe for me to eat.  After that summer, I knew staff housing was certainly not the place for me!


  1. I’m glad you find the blog helpful! Thank you for your encouragement and support!

  2. I found your link through the Facebook’s Kids with Food Allergies group. My son is 3 years old and anaphylactic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and possibly fish. I think your blog is great because it not only gives us info first hand, but also hope. I agree, keep it up and thank you.

  3. Thank you! If you have any questions or specific topics you love to hear more about, please let me know!

  4. C Weston, Boston MA

    I just received a link to your blog. I have a 4 year old with many life threatening allergies and really enjoy hearing how someone feels that has lived through these experiences as a child. Keep it up!!

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