Conversations about Children’s food allergies

BLOOMINGTON – Children’s food allergies can be exhausting and frustrating for parents to explain to others.

To help parents navigate conversations about food allergies, Jennifer Bute, an associate professor of communication studies at IU, has a few simple tips.

Jennifer Bute

She says it’s important to remember that most people have good intentions, so she suggests framing messages in caring and respectful ways, and being aware of how the tone of voice, facial expressions, and nonverbal habits could come across as hurtful or condescending without meaning to.

Some people will understand food allergies better than others. For example, older relatives are often less familiar with food allergies and may need multiple conversations and reminders. The type of allergen you’re explaining might also be hard for people to understand.

Bute says parents she’s talked to have a hard time explaining any food allergy other than a peanut allergy. There is currently only one FDA-approved treatment for food allergy, and it’s only for peanut allergy, and it isn’t a cure, so managing food allergies is almost entirely dependent upon good, clear, respectful, consistent communication, she says.

Information: Indiana University Research Impact