Whether it is a severe allergy to nuts and shellfish with risk of anaphylactic shock, or an embarrassing and uncomfortable run to the restroom after accidently consuming some gluten, allergies are a very real and important issue when it comes to dating. The butterflies in your stomach should be from anticipating that first brush of hands, not from what you or your date ate for dinner. And when tragic stories of kisses that actually kill are heard every week, we realize that the consequences of being upfront about your allergies can truly be a matter of life or death.
With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, dinner reservations and romantic candle lit dinners at home are being planned. If it's your first date, there is enough excitement and emotions without having to worry about what you will eat. However, for many people who suffer from allergies and Celiac disease, food or certain ingredients may very well be a primary concern. On the positive side, awareness and understanding of allergies is much more prevalent today, and your date will likely understand (and if he or she doesn't, perhaps you don't want to have a second date anyway). Being straightforward and upfront about your allergies is your best bet. You hopefully will keep your date night from ending in the emergency room.
But when it comes to dating, allergy sufferers must worry not only about what they themselves are eating, but what their date is eating - or has eaten earlier that day. One Mayo Clinic Case Report describes the case of a shellfish allergic girl who developed "sudden onset of lip angioedema, throat swelling, diffuse flushing, urticaria, abdominal cramps, nausea, wheezing, severe dyspnea, and hypotension (noninvasive blood pressure level of 80/50 mm Hg) that developed immediately after kissing her boyfriend." He had eaten shrimp about an hour earlier; she developed symptoms in less than a minute. The Winter 2010 issue of Allergic Living also highlights the stories of allergic women coping with food allergies on dates.
Another tricky thing about having a first date with allergies is trying a new restaurant. Depending on the severity of your allergy, you may even want to call the restaurant ahead of time and talk to a manager about your concerns and some possible food choices. Using Food Allergy Restaurant Cards can save you from lengthy and convoluted conversations with your server when you are with your date. If your condition is less dire and you are comfortable asking your waiter which foods you would be able to enjoy, this could also open the way to telling your date about your allergies. If cross-contamination is an issue, you can gently or coquettishly inform him that a goodnight kiss might only be possible if he doesn't have the salmon special!
This Valentine's Day, make sure to play it safe. Whatever the degree of your allergy and comfort in disclosing your condition, it is vital to be open and honest with your date. And always bring your auto injector with you!