Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Food Allergies: Fact or Fiction

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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
 

22 comments:

  1. This is such an EXCELLENT post in every way. Lisa and I were just talking about this yesterday and how people are so blase about allergies, when they should not be. So well said.-Ashley

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    1. Thank you, Ashley. Reading that article and some of the reactions is what finally pushed me to writing this piece (I've been thinking about it for awhile). Food allergies especially get so much flack, and it's high time people realized how serious they really are.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your support. :)

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  2. Julie it's not a matter of belief, it's fact! They are real and I don't understand anyone trying to argue the opposing view point. Unfortunately we've lost a young teen to a peanut allergy this past summer here where I live and his story is not the only one as you've listed plenty of information on this subject. Just because we aren't affected doesn't mean we shouldn't acknowledge. Kudos to you for posting on it.

    I'm having a blog challenge. You were kind enough to make me laugh with your comments on by post a few weeks ago & making my way back around to all the visitors. I hope you will visit and join the challenge. Would love to have you and connect further.

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    1. Thank you, Joi, for the invite and the kind words. It is a matter of fact...and I wish more people realized that. I am sorry that you all lost a young teen to a peanut allergy...That breaks my heart!

      I will definitely stop by.

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  3. How is it possible that there are still people today who don't get this? My friend's nephew died a week ago because of a peanut allergy. His friend gave him a pretzel with a tiny amount of peanut butter on it. His mom didn't think it was that serious and took him home instead of to the hospital. He died shortly after.

    It's serious. Thanks for the article.

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    1. Oh, what a heart wrenching story! My friend's daughter has a peanut allergy, and each time she is accidentally exposed, her reactions are more and more serious, in fact her first major reaction, my husband was the one who pointed it out and was able to get her to the hospital on time. I can't even imagine what would've happened if we had not been there!

      Thank you for stopping by, and I hope that someone reading this who is skeptical will not be afterwards so that what happened to your friend won't happen to anyone else.

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  4. What a wonderful post!! I am blessed that I have children with no food allergies, but my best friend has a VERY severe allergy to (of all things) cinnamon. She has ended up in the hospital more than a few times because people don't get that it is a REAL allergy and a very SERIOUS one, at that. In fact, some people she used to work with (in a pizza place) thought it would be funny to sprinkle some on her food one day. She ended up in the hospital for three days.

    Food allergies are NOT a joke and they are NOT "fake". Thank you for posting this!

    Stopping by from SITS!

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    1. Oh, how awful! I have heard of people doing that before. How bad would they have felt if she had died? They do not realize, but they could've been tried for involuntary manslaughter or something similar if that had happened, and (quite honestly) what they did was a form of attempted murder in a way, not a joke. How very sad and horrible!

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. My son has a peanut allergy, so this topic is obviously close to my heart. I can't thank you enough for writing about it and bringing it to the forefront of people's minds. We need all the voices we can get to speak out. Thank you, Julie. --Lisa

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    1. You're welcome, Lisa. It's the least I could do...For all of us.

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  6. My son had a wheat allergy when he was young that caused us to end up in the ER numerous times before he was finally diagnosed...and even then, they said that the allergy wasn't the cause of him having seizure like symptoms! However all I know is once it was diagnosed and we took wheat out of our diet, he never had an episode again! He did outgrow the allergy, but it was two years. Wonderful post! It's nice to see someone educating people on this! It's a very real issue.

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    1. I agree, Michelle! It IS a real issue that deserves a lot more coverage because ignorance is still out there. I am glad that your son outgrew his allergy.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story!

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  7. {Melinda} My daughter is allergic to carrots and apples ... I know that sounds strange, but her throat starts to get all itchy and close up. She's been like this since she was a little girl. Micah just has to adhere to a healthy diet for his cystic fibrosis. I truly think people who haven't faced these kinds of challenges with their children just don't get it. There's no "easy fix." You're not being overprotective. You're dealing with the reality you've been given and trying to do what's best for your kids. Great article, Julie.

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    1. Thanks, Melinda. My dad has reactions to apples, and we're trying to decide if it is a reaction to the wax (he's allergic to soy and that can be in wax) or if it is indeed the apples. He's also got a host of other food allergies/sensitivities that have recently turned up, and we're still trying to figure them all out. He also has a lot of environmental allergies, and is very allergic to some smells. I even know of a woman who is anaphylactic to smells, so I don't think there is anything that is off-limits in the allergy world, hence the reason I believe advocacy is so important. It's not as unheard of as it once was, and people need to realize that it's not just something people say to get attention or something like that, that this is really a matter of life and death. I hope that my post and others like it help to raise more awareness and get others thinking.

      I wish you all the best, and thank you for stopping by. :)

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  8. Fabulous post! Thanks so much for sharing and writing about how critical food allergies can be to people of all ages and that they must be taken seriously by society and schools.

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    1. Thanks, Laura! I am hopeful that it will make an impact, and it will at least get people thinking!

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  9. Thanks so much for sharing, Julie. I don't think anyone can really understand the severity of food allergies until they've lived it-either through their own allergies or the allergies of their children.

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    1. I agree, Heidi! I wish I could put people in my shoes or the shoes of one of those who have kids with food allergies and let them experience it just once so they can get it. Unfortunately, that isn't possible, so I figure this is the next best thing.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your article on my blog! Yes, this is serious and scary and your article is spot on. Some of these comments make my blood run cold! They thought it was funny to put cinnamon on her food? Oh, dear God! Things like that make me so scared to send my children out into the world...well, and things like the article we are all commenting about.

    I was interested to see that you linked to several of the same children I did in my post as examples of how serious this is. Even without us pointing it out in our posts, do people seriously not see this on the news? When someone dies of a food allergy, it is always on the news! Then they get irritated that they can't bring a cupcake to school? There is a serious "humanity disconnect" going on for some people, I think.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by! You've got a great blog, btw! I'm enjoying your writing!

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    1. Thanks, Carrie! I enjoyed my visit to your blog, too, and am going to add you to my reading list on Natural and Free. Great minds need to stick together, you know? :)

      I agree that there is a "humanity disconnect", too. So sad! Compassion is seriously lacking!

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  11. Thanks for your piece and for stopping by my blog post on the subject as well, Julie. The thing I can't wrap my brain around is this: I understand why parents and those suffering from allergies (life-threatening or not) are so invested in preventing an accidental exposure. Our well-being or that of our children depends on it.

    I absolutely do not understand why others, who are not dealing with allergies firsthand get so incredibly worked up and angry about the inconvenience of not being able to bring certain food items to school. It doesn't make any sense to me. Why not seize the opportunity to teach our kids about diversity and compassion and save the peanut butter cookies for home. There are a million other "treats" or fun activities to choose from. The inconvenience doesn't seem like much to ask when the well-being of kids (mine, yours, or anyone else's) are at stake.

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    1. You're welcome, and I totally agree with you. I can't believe the attitude either. It is my hope that it will become less and less the norm, and that compassion will overcome...Unfortunately, I think it will be awhile off yet. :( All we can do is try to educate and advocate in the meantime.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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