On….Food allergy/intolerance (FAI) Bullying
If you ever used the phrase or even thought, “kids these days!” Let me introduce you to Taylor Miller. This teen will restore your faith in the next generation. Those of us who follow Taylor on social media have been duly impressed by his maturity and positive outlook on…well…everything.
I asked him if he would answer a few questions and get Taylor’s Take on FAI bullying that seems to be so prevalent these days.
QN 1: Tell us a little about yourself.
TT: “What’s it like to be a teenager with food allergies? Many people ask parents or other bloggers what it’s like to have kids with food allergies, but we never hear from the teenagers themselves. I’m 16 years old and started my own gluten-free blog almost 2 years ago. I got diagnosed with Celiac Disease 4 years ago and have been both gluten and dairy free for that amount of time. When I went gluten-free I noticed that there were no other kids or teenagers being a voice in the gluten-free community. I saw many parents and many adult bloggers advocating, but not once did I come across someone my age that I could relate to with my food allergies. I was going to high school at the time I started my blog where I live in Saint Petersburg, Florida. I actually had to stop going to regular school though due to my food allergies and other serious health conditions. I deal with a lot of stuff as a teenager but I never thought it would be too much for me to handle. I thought I could be an advocate in the gluten-free community since I have such a positive attitude and really enjoy helping others. That’s exactly what I strived to do in the Summer of 2012.”
QN 2: Why did you feel it was important to start a blog?
TT: “When I went gluten-free I always heard of kids and teens being so negative about their food allergies. There weren’t any teen advocates in the gluten-free community and I really felt I could be that person. Even though I was so young I knew I had the ambition and right assets to make it happen. I truly believed I could use my experiences and what I went through as a teenager with food allergies to try and help others. Sharing recipes, life experiences, and tips are all things I wanted to do and have been able to do every week for the past 2 years. Since starting my blog, I honestly can say that it was one of the best decisions I ever made and that it’s something I love working on to help others every day.”
QN 3: There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about bullying in schools. Do you think bullying has increased from the days your parents went to school?
TT: “I do believe bullying has become more common since my parents were in school. It’s obviously always been around, but my generation is almost enabled to create bullies. Social media and social websites make cyber bullying a whole new type of bullying that wasn’t seen before. More importantly, there are a lot more things people try to bully others about that they might not have been seen before. Food allergies have gotten a lot more recognition over the past 10 years and unfortunately some kids find that as something to pick on. Food allergy bullying is just one of the many new types of bullying that has come about in my generation, but either way bullying has increased a lot more in general which is sad to see for my generation.”
QN 4: Have you experienced or witnessed food allergy/intolerance (FAI) bullying?
TT: “I personally have never witnessed someone else get bullied over food allergies. However, I have been bullied myself in a way and I have definitely heard stories of others getting bullied. A lot of the times I was always proud of my allergies and being gluten-free. I didn’t really give bullies much for them to pick on but there was a few times early on when it happened. It seemed that the cafeteria was the most common place. I would sometimes have kids wave breadsticks in my face or enjoy a glutenous food with exaggerated noises. But, I never did experience anybody physically sneaking gluten in my food or something like that.”
QN 5: If so, do you think it differs from other types of bullying and why?
TT: “Either way, bullying is bullying. Food allergy bullying can be a little more extreme when physical harm is caused to someone from the food they eat. But when it comes to bullying in general it is pretty much the same. It’s still people finding something that makes us different and deciding to pick on us for it. It’s no different than any other type of bullying because it still can cause emotional and physical harm.”
QN 6: What do you think can be done to stop FAI bullying?
TT: “I think more can be done from both the people getting bullied and the people around them as well. Food allergies are not something to mess around with since they can seriously harm someone. Teachers or staff at schools can do more to make others realize that it is a serious case and is not something to mess with. There will always be those people that pick on others for something that makes them different. But at least avoiding physical harm can be a step in the right direction by getting the schools more involved. I also think kids and teenagers can do a lot too. Instead of showing people you are upset about your food allergies and how it makes you different, be happy about the way you eat! Show that you do enjoy the things you can still have and use your allergies as a way to inform others! I found that if you show your allergies don’t bother you then people become more interested in it than anything. If you show you’re ok with your food allergies then everyone else will be ok with it too.”
TT: “Food allergy bullying is a very real thing that many kids and teens with food allergies experience. It’s something we can all try to change and get rid of but we all know that it will never go away completely. That’s why I think it’s most important to teach kids and teenagers about how to act with their food allergies. Encourage them that they can feel healthy if they don’t eat these certain foods and make them feel happy about eating this way. The best thing to throw a bully off is killing them with kindness. If you show that getting picked on about your allergies doesn’t bother you then the bully will find no fun in it. Just be positive and encourage your kids to be positive if they are the ones dealing with it. Food allergies do make us different, but in the end it’s only just food. It’s only as big of a problem as we choose to make it.”
I’m willing to bet (and I’m not the betting type) that Mr. Taylor has a few more fans now. Thank you Taylor for your incredible insight and awesome outlook on life!
Dine Confident My Friends,
p.s. Make sure you follow Taylor’s very educational and entertaining blog: