Telling your Housemates about your allergy
Since moving to London over 2 years ago I have moved house 4 times and have lived with over 19 different housemates. I discovered that moving down to London and not really knowing anyone you find yourself hopping ship several times until you finally find a house where you feel at home, with housemates you want to socialise and spend time with.
It's crazy to think that I have lived with over 19 different housemates from a range of different nationalities and backgrounds. I feel like having a food allergy in today’s generation most people are very understanding. I personally have never had an issue telling someone new about my allergy, I found that most of the time they’re usually intrigued and want to find out more about my peanut allergy.
I currently live in a house with 6 other housemates in London. I’ve found that it’s best to be very vocal about your allergy before you move in, so everyone is aware from day one. Luckily, we are all very similar ages from 23-27 years and we end up spending a lot of time together either socialising, going on holidays, eating out and cooking.
It’s great that we spend so much time together as they are now very understanding about my allergy and know what to look out for if I ever have a severe allergic reaction. Usually, when we go out for food together we pick somewhere where we know I can eat. Occasionally they’ll order an Indian takeaway, then I don't get involved and make my own curry using Sharwood sauce instead...sad times.
My main concern about living in a house with 6 other people, is if they cook with nuts in the kitchen, however, this doesn't happen too often. I ask them to make me aware if they are cooking with nuts, then I can make sure I'm not around the kitchen just in case. I also ask them to wash up any cutlery straight after, so there are definitely no traces of nuts around. In an ideal world, they wouldn't cook with nuts in the kitchen, but, living in a household of seven people, I can't stop them eating nuts, however I can educate them about my allergy.
Since moving away from my family home when I was 17, there’s only been one occasion when I could have had an allergic reaction due to a housemate carelessness. When I was living in university halls, there was one time when I made some toast, just as I was going to take a bite I noticed there was chocolate spread on the toast. My first reaction was how did this happen, but when I went back into the kitchen I saw there was chocolate spread on the chopping board. This was an honest mistake by a housemate, but the consequences of accidentally eating the chocolate spread due to the chopping board not being washed afterwards could have had severe consequences for me.
Living with housemates when you have a severe allergy shouldn't be a scary situation, the main piece of advice that I could give to fellow allergy sufferers is always make your housemates aware of your allergy and educate them on how to use the EpiPen®.
Making sure your housemates understand how to use the EpiPen® is so important, as you never know that sometime in the near future you may need their help and assistance if you ever go into anaphylaxis shock, and cannot administer the EpiPen® yourself.