Dear Lola,

My work colleague is an aspiring baker and she often brings in delicious treats to share with the office. We have a common break room where most of us take our lunches and the treats are always on the table. My problem is that her treats often contain nuts and I am severely allergic to them. On days when she shares a tray of confections with nuts, I feel forced to eat at my desk to avoid having a major allergic reaction that will result in my hospitalization. Should I approach my coworker and ask her to refrain from sharing treats with nuts in them? My husband says I should, but I’m worried about upsetting the baker and the rest of the office who enjoy her desserts.


Not the Nuts

Dear Not the Nuts,

Frankly, I am shocked that you have such a severe allergy to a common food item and you’ve never mentioned it before to your coworkers. I can only imagine how you must feel whenever someone sits next to you at lunchtime, only to open their bag and pull out a salad with nuts on top. Your choices at that point are to run from the room or prepare your syringe in case a walnut rolls across the table and touches you.

Your heart must race with fear at least once a week!

It is time to tell your coworkers about your serious allergy. It doesn’t have to be a grand announcement, but can be easily slipped into conversation as you are eating. The next time a tray of death arrives, calmly move it to a side table or counter area and tell the people in the room that you’re allergic. That will allow them to partake of the treats, while you enjoy the camaraderie without the threat of anaphylaxis.

You’ll just have to get your adrenaline fix in other ways.

As for your worry about the baker’s feelings, you should relax. Most people who bake, do so to see the enjoyment on the faces around them. I would be surprised if she was offended by your request to limit the number of items containing nuts. She would probably be much more horrified were she to accidentally cause you to wind up in the hospital, all over something that she could have easily adjusted. Bakers have a million flavor tricks up their sleeve and your coworker would likely have no issue with testing the nuttier creations out on her family and friends that she has over to her home.

Who in their right mind would turn away free food samples?!

If your allergy is severe enough that simply moving the tray to another area is still too risky, you may need to talk to the office manager in order to establish a nut-free environment in the break room. Everyone is entitled to eat in the lunchroom and someone with a life-threatening medical condition must be accommodated. The office manager can broach the new rules with the office while you maintain your anonymity.


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One thought on “Dear Lola – Coworker means well, but she’s going to kill me…

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