Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
Food intolerances and allergies can be very invisible problems. You can’t tell if someone has an intolerance by looking at them. And some people can be very good about hiding it, even when you eat with them (we don’t recommend this—instead, be upfront about it!). However, this doesn’t mean that having a food intolerance feels invisible to the person who has it. Having a food intolerance can actually feel very public. It can seem like people are watching (and tracking) what you eat and that you are always having to explain yourself. Naturally, this can feel like a burden, and can easily feel like you are imposing a burden on other people. Asking about ingredients, turning offered food down, and being that “person with a food allergy” can feel isolating and can be difficult for other people to relate to.
As a result, it can be easy to fear that people won’t want to be around you because you have a food intolerance or allergy. No one wants to feel like a burden, be the “difficult one”, or be the one who always has to research food. Having a food intolerance does limit what foods you can eat, but shouldn’t impact the things you can do and the friends you have. That being said, this fear of being a burden (and affecting friendships) can feel real. It can really feel like people may choose to not be your friend because you have a food intolerance. Know this: a food intolerance or allergy isn’t going to impact your true friendships—everyone is an individual and having a food intolerance or allergy is just one instance of this playing out! Good friends will recognize the real you, but you do need to take your food requirements in stride. Be willing to go to a restaurant where you only have limited menu options, and be polite and professional about your food requirements (and be forgiving when the people around you mean well, but mess up).
This fear is just a perception, but not something we’ve observed. While some people don't seem to understand, our good friends have been very supportive of our soy-free lifestyle, and have intentionally learned more about it. Having a food intolerance or allergy doesn’t limit you, or define you.