For those who suffer from allergies and intolerances, or have a partner that does, Valentine's Day is often not a simple affair. Places to eat, romantic home-cooked meals, and traditional gifts all have their problems.
Food allergies are a particular problem and can cause symptoms including nasal congestion or a scratchy throat after eating a food. They can also cause serious problems such as throat closures, tightness, swelling of the face, breathing trouble and anaphylaxis (a life-threatening blockage of the airways).
I certainly don't want to bring down the mood on what should be a celebration of love however...hopefully the following information will mean that you and your partner can enjoy Valentine's Day in each other's company...despite those troublemaking allergies!
A Romantic Meal
Whether dining out at your favourite restaurant or enjoying a candle lit dinner at home, a romatnic meal for two is often a big part of the way couples choose to celebrate on February 14th. Both scenarios present the same problems and things can be particularly tricky if you are with a new partner who hasn't got to grips with your allergies or the roles are reversed and you are trying to remember a new partner's allergies yourself. Here are a few tips and bits of information that might be useful:
1. Make sure your partner is fully aware of all your specific food allergies, intolerances, or simply foods that trouble you. If your partner suffers from the above make sure you know for sure which foods bother them before making reservations at a restaurant or planning a meal to prepare yourself.
2. If your partner suffers from food allergies and you want to take them out for a romantic meal, be sensible with your choice of restaurant. Rather than going for the most expensive restaurant in order to impress, choose a restaurant that you know your partner likes or one that declares common food allergens on the menu, or if all else fails simply a restaurant with a large range of different foods on offer so your partner is sure to find something safe they like. It's obviously no good making reservations at that expensive new Italian restaurant if you partner has problems with gluten (bread, pasta) and/or cheese!
3. A substantial number of people suffer from common food ingredients and additives known as sulfites. These are often hidden so if you are unsure if foods or drinks contain them ask the staff at the restaurant or supermarket/off license (liquor store). Alcoholic beverages like beer and wine, particularly red wine, are common sources of sulfites but there are sulfite-free wines available so always ask or shop around.
4. Believe it or not if you kiss your partner after you have eaten something they are allergic to the protein residues from the food can be passed to them...and that is enough to trigger an allergic reaction. Not a particular romantic thought but an important issue to consider so make sure you don't eat foods they are allergic to if you expect to take the romance to another level following your romantic meal!
5. Scented candles or even regular candles may cause problems for some people who are chemically sensitive.
Traditional Valentine's Day gifts can also pose problems when your partner has allergies:
Chocolates - Milk/dairy products and nuts are two of the most common food allergies and lactose (milk sugar) intolerance is also relatively common. This makes chocolates a no-no if your partner suffers from these.
Roses/Flowers - Your partner may be allergic to the flowers themselves or may be troubled by artificial scents that are increasingly being sprayed on flowers these days. Make sure you find out beforehand.
Bath/Personal Care Products - Many people are allergic to certain chemicals in these products, particularly fragrances, which can cause skin rashes or many other symptoms in the chemically sensitive.
Of course nobody says that you have to buy your these popular gifts on valentines day so there are literally hundreds of other things they might like...and you are the best person to judge that so I will leave you to it and wish you a happy and romantic Valentine's Day!
About: Matthew Hogg ("Maff")
Diagnosed with M.E./chronic fatigue syndrome aged only 11 years old and subsequently associated illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Despite his own struggles he has constantly sought to educate and support others suffering from such "invisible illnesses" through his website, The Environmental Illness Resource. He fully recovered from MCS using his own approach and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutritional Health.