|Image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
Recently, my dear friend, Caroline of Grateful Foodie, brought to my attention an article that was written about how parents of kids with food allergies need to "relax" because most kids outgrow their allergies, and maybe they should just feed them the offending foods so they can "outgrow" them quicker (You can read Caroline's reaction to the piece here.). Needless to say, the article in question came across as a mother having a hissy fit because she couldn't send cupcakes to school for her kid and a bit heartless, so she (and Daily Breeze which hosted the article) did issue an apology (read Caroline's response here; my response is underneath the apology article), but it seemed a bit insincere and a lot "too little, too late".
It also left me wondering, "Do people REALLY think that food allergies are something that is made up? Do people REALLY think that food allergies are just a 'make you feel ill' or 'give you a little asthma' or 'take a shot or take some Benadryl and you're fine' kind of thing?" Unfortunately, the answer for many people is a yes, hesitant for some, maybe, but still a yes.
People don't know that food allergies kill. Don't believe they can? Check out these:
- Tanner Henstra Memorial Fund (Tells a brief version of what happened.)
- Honor Cameron Fitzpatrick’s Peanut Death By Saving A Life written by Caroline of Grateful Foodie with links to more info.
- Google "Food Allergy Deaths" and see how many articles you will get.
It is real people. We may not like it. We may want to not believe it because it seems so insane that something as harmless as a PB&J or a glass of milk or a peanut can kill...but it can.
We do NOT get the right to tell a parent that they cannot be terrified out of their minds about their child being given a food they are allergic to. We do NOT get to tell them to "man up" or tell them that they are depriving their kids of the "joys of childhood". We do NOT get to tell them that they are paranoid. We do NOT get to tell them that they are crazy or overprotective.
To them, food can be a weapon...a deadly one. Each time they try something new, they know they are putting their kid's life in their own hands, despite avid label reading, despite all the precautions, despite all the fail safes. They know that things can go south in a hurry, and they are as prepared as they can be for that. You do NOT make their job any easier by telling them to "relax" or to just "take a chance". The only way they CAN relax is if they KNOW that YOU believe in the seriousness of the food allergies, understand the risks and will help keep their child SAFE, too.
Do you realize that you telling them to "relax" and just "give the kid the food" so that they "don't miss out" is like you telling them to give their child a loaded gun, encourage that child to point it at their head and pray it misfires? Can you not see that? I can see that some of you cannot, and that saddens me greatly.
Why do we think that we have the right to belittle their very real fears? Have you ever seen a child go through an anaphylactic event? No? Read/watch these:
- Google "anaphylaxis pictures" and see what it looks like.
- Google "anaphylaxis stores" and read about those horrors.
Still think they are something worth mocking? Still think they are something worth downplaying? Yes, I know that medicine is getting better, that medical response times are improving, but there are times when these things STILL fail...and that is reality that these parents must face EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Do yourself a favor. Get educated. Here are some places to start:
- There is also several places on Natural and Free where I list info on anaphylaxis, alternative names for soy and gluten, among other helpful tips and information nuggets that are worth looking into.
And please, if you have kids with food allergies in your kids' classes or in your family or even just in your community, get to know the family. Ask questions. Spend time with them. You will find that they are parents JUST.L IKE. YOU. They just have to worry about food, too.
And don't fall into the trap that all food allergy-friendly food is gross and tasteless. It's not. Most of it can be quite good (Hey, a bad recipe is a bad recipe - that has nothing to do with ingredients or lack thereof, so don't blame taste on anything other than recipe design.). Check out my blog, Natural and Free, for some good recipes (some of which are top 8 free or mostly top 8 free or can be adapted to be so) as well as some of these great places:
- Grateful Foodie (her recipes are all peanut and tree nut-free)
- One Creative Mommy (she shares great gluten-free recipes and sometimes has link-ups that offer other gluten-free recipes)
- There is also a list of other blogs that offer recipes and/or allergy information at the bottom of the page on Natural and Free.
The ball is in your court. Don't fail your community here. Food allergies are REAL and deserve your respect, compassion and time. Ignorance is not bliss...It's deadly.
What is a good food/other allergy website that you know of?
If you could ask a food allergy family one question, what would it be?
Do you believe that food allergies are real or do you think they are exaggerated?
For those of you who don't know me, I do NOT have food allergies nor do my children and I am so very grateful for that, but there are food intolerances that I face and food allergies run in my family, and I have dear friends with children with food allergies or who have food allergies themselves with reactions ranging from IBS symptoms to hives to anaphylaxis (other allergies run in the family, too, ranging from medications to seasonal with the same variation in reactions). To see my reasons why I am such an advocate, other than because it is the right thing to do and it affects the people I know and love, read this.