Food Allergy & Teenagers

Teenagers tend to spend more time outside of the home and take on more of a lead role in managing their food allergies.  At the same time, they face increased pressure to fit in with their peers.   Some teens engage in risky behaviours, such as not reading labels, knowingly eating foods that could contain their allergen or not carrying emergency medicine when they are out with friends.28 29 These behaviours increase the risk for allergic reactions and death.16 29 30

Empower your teen to take an active role in managing their allergy

  • Encourage your teen to ask their doctor questions.
  • Make sure your teen can use an auto-injector.
  • Suggest trusted resources, such as teen websites created by Anaphylaxis Canada or the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). 

Encourage your teen to tell their friends about their food allergy

  • Friends need to know about your child’s food allergies in the event of an allergic reaction.  They should be able to recognize symptoms of a reaction and know what to do in an emergency.
  • Allergy management will become a routine for friends too and will not be “a big deal” if they are educated.

Help your teen plan ahead for social situations

  • Gather menus from popular restaurants. Encourage them to practice making good choices and informing restaurant staff about food allergies. Call ahead to find out about safe options.
  • Problem-solve with your teen about how and where they will carry emergency medication.

Talk about alcohol and drugs

  • These substances affect a person’s judgment.  Explain to your teen that if they are under the influence, they will have difficulty making clear decisions or recognizing symptoms of a reaction.
  • Alcoholic beverages can include common allergens (e.g. Amaretto liqueur includes almond).

Talk about dating and relationships

  • Give your teen the facts about food allergies and dating, even if the topic is uncomfortable.
  • Suggest ways to tell a partner about food allergies.
  • Make sure your teen knows that kissing can cause an allergic reaction if someone has eaten an allergenic food up to several hours before a kiss.5
  • Make sure your teen feels comfortable suggesting restaurants that are good choices for them (for example, restaurants that you have checked out together) or speaking up if they think that a restaurant is a risky choice.
  • Suggest to your teen that both meals (your teen and their date’s meals) should be allergy-safe.  This is especially important if teens will be kissing.5

Encourage open communication

  • Let your teen know that you are open to all questions and want to know how they are feeling.  Allow your teen to talk about “rule breaking” without the risk of punishment.
AllergyHome Logo Additional Information

Anaphylaxis Canada Video: Food Allergies and High School Anaphylaxis Canada
Anaphylaxis Canada Video: Food Allergies and Dating

5. Maloney, J.M., Chapman, M.D., and Sicherer, S.H. “Peanut allergen exposure through saliva: Assessment and interventions to reduce exposure.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 118.3 (2006): 719-724.

16. Bock, A.S., Muñoz-Furlong, A. and Sampson, H.A. “Fatalities due to anaphylactic reactions to foods.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 107.1 (2001): 191-193.

28. Sampson, M.A., Munoz-Furlong, A. and Sicherer, S.H. “Risk-taking and coping strategies of adolescents and young adults with food allergy.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 117.6 (2006): 1440-5.

29. Monks, H. et al. “How do teenagers manage their food allergies?” Clinical and Experimental Allergy 40.10 (2010): 1533-1540.

30. Chapman, J.A. et al. “Food allergy: a practice parameter.” Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 96.3 (2006): S1-S68.



The information in this handbook is for educational purposes only. It is meant to help people learn how to manage a child’s allergies. It is not meant to give specific medical advice, recommendations, diagnosis, or treatment.

Readers should not rely on any information contained in this handbook as a replacement or substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis or treatment. Nor should they delay getting professional medical advice or treatment because of information contained in this handbook. Medical knowledge is constantly developing.

Please speak with your child’s doctor or other healthcare professional before making any medical decision that affects your child or if you have any questions or concerns about their food allergies.

The authors of this handbook – Michael Pistiner, Jennifer LeBovidge and Anaphylaxis Canada – as well as individual contributors and reviewers will not be held responsible for any action taken or not taken based on/or as a result of the reader’s interpretation (understanding) of the information contained herein.

Please note that AllergyHome is not affiliated with Boston Children’s Hospital

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