Food Allergies Are NOT A Fad! Surviving Food Allergies in India

Posted: June 1, 2019

Surviving food allergies in India can be hard when there is so little awareness of the very real consequences they can have.

We Indians love drama! India is a country where serious terms are thrown around just for the heck of it. Feeling low is termed as “depression” (when it is actually a specific mental illness) and intense dislike for certain items is termed an “allergy”.

Food allergies are practically unheard of, and that is an unfortunate reality.

Dealing with a lack of awareness about food allergies in India

I have been struggling with an allergy to nuts for a while now. As a complete foodie, it has been an upward battle. Come festival time, and the hazard is increased further.

It is often frustrating that people do not take such food allergies seriously. “Oh, allergies are so ‘in’ these days”. “Are you allergic to this? Come on, have a bite, you might actually like it”. A “bite” that might result in an anaphylactic shock, and can prove fatal.

Food allergies are rare, no doubt. But they are not caused by eating way too much processed food. Or not getting enough Vitamin D. The white blood cells are just a bit too overprotective.

So how does one survive nut allergy in a country like India where a celebration means a generous dose of nuts and dry fruits? And where no occasion is complete without mithai?

Being ruthless about refusing food

To begin with, I am quite ruthless when it comes to refusing food served if the host is unsure of the contents. Some do take offense. But more often than not, informing the host in advance ensures I have a choice of nut free food.

When dining out…

I find dining out much easier. Most restaurants are accommodating. I am labeled the “nut-wali lady” (the nut lady) by most take-away joints. Jokes apart, most restaurants are accommodating and a conversation with the chef is a big help. Among other restaurants, I regularly dine in at Barbeque Nation where the staff ensures that the food served is completely nut free.

Finding the safe zones

Festival time is mithai time. I did some digging around and found a few I can actually eat. Jalebis, Rasgullas, and Haldiram’s Gulab Jamuns (bless you, Haldiram’s). It is not really that bad, is it?

Packaged foods are slowly changing

It is high time there is an awareness about food allergies in India when it comes to packaged foods. They might not be particularly healthy, but one is allowed an occasional cheat food, right?

The Indian food industry has finally woken up to the fact that people might be allergic to some of the ingredients used. But there is still a long way to go.

When I was diagnosed with the allergy, I decided to not let it define me. I wasn’t one to stay cooped up inside the house. It takes a few lifestyle changes. And being very, very adamant.

But I am getting there, living life to the fullest (with an antihistamine in my bag… just in case).

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I am a businesswoman, a design professional, an avid reader, and a complete foodie. Books

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