If you have food allergies, I imagine you say “no” quite often.
No to food.
No to events.
I feel like I am always saying “no”, and I kind of hate it.
As a people pleaser, I hate having to say “no” thinking that I will be disappointing someone.
As a normal human being, I hate having to say “no” to fun opportunities or delicious food because it wouldn’t be safe.
While I cannot magically make every food free of allergens, or make every event or opportunity safe for me, I can phrase my response in different ways to help the situation. And then I can go practice my favorite yoga exercise, buy myself some flowers, or call my mom to catch up – all to help me focus on the positive.
**Before you read the different options, please note that I am not saying you should be ashamed to say “no” because of your food allergies. “No” is a perfectly fine answer. Food allergies are serious, and something you should not be ashamed of. Being almost 26, I have had countless opportunities where I needed to say “no” but got tired of saying it. These options are simply different ways to communicate my need to protect myself.
Here are 10 different ways to say “no” – besides “no.”
- “Wow, that looks delicious!” – Simply redirect and comment on the food. Can you comment on the presentation, smell, colors? Etc. If you need more of an explanation, you can add that you wish you could eat it since it looks delicious, but you can’t.
- “I would love to have the recipe!” – So maybe you can’t eat it now, but could you get the recipe and make it in your safe kitchen at home? Or could you adapt the recipe to make it safe? Many of my recipes are adaptations of recipes that looked delicious but weren’t safe.
- “Thank you for thinking of me.” – This is one I use most often, especially if someone tries to provide something safe, but it is actually not. While you communicate your thankfulness to the person, you still need to protect yourself and not eat anything dangerous.
- “I appreciate the offer.” – Similar to the one above, I use this often as well.
- “I wish I hadn’t eaten so much _________.” – One of the first things I go for at a party or event is the veggie tray, fruit platter, or drinks. Usually, these are my safe options, and I can use them as my excuse for being “full.”
- “I wish I hadn’t eaten before.” – Maybe you are hungry, and the last meal you ate was breakfast 5 hours ago, but they don’t know that 😉
- “I’m working on my drink for now, thank you!” – I always try to have a drink in my hand at any gathering, and usually, this keeps the questions at bay. Obviously, I got myself a drink, so I am able to help myself to food if I want to.
- “I have to leave soon…” – Especially at events like open houses or if you have to be somewhere soon after, it’s simple and understandable to share that you won’t be there for long.
- “Can I ask where that came from?” – This would be in the case of food being from a catering company or restaurant. I recently went to a baby shower that was catered, and was able to ask where the food came from. I was then able to explain that I could not safely eat at the restaurant, and would, therefore, stick to the fruit and veggie trays.
- “Maybe I could bring something next time?” OR “These are a few places I can eat at…” – If you are comfortable enough with the person, it is fair to give them some options for the future. Did they choose a restaurant you can’t eat at? Let them know you won’t make it this time, but next time you have a few options that would work for you. Do they have food that isn’t safe for you? Offer to bring food next time that is safe for you, or provide a safe recipe for them.