It’s Food Allergy Awareness Week in Michigan and across the United States. As food allergies continue to be a growing problems for Michiganders, it is prudent of us to take time this week to understand and show compassion toward those dealing with food allergy restrictions. Even as general awareness has risen over the years, there are many misconceptions about dealing with food allergies. These misunderstandings can cause hurt feelings and in the worst cases, allergic reactions.
Here is what food allergy families would like you to know.
1. Food allergy reactions are different for every person.
A peanut allergy for one child may be severe enough to warrant peanut-free zones, while another child with a peanut allergy may simply need to avoid eating peanut products. These differences in allergy management come about through the child’s history of past reactions, allergy test results, and doctor recommendations. I have yet to meet a parent that is not interested in finding ways to reduce the restrictions put on their child due to food allergies. If a child has some wide reaching food contact restrictions, don’t question them, accommodate them. It is safe to assume that their parents would love to reduce these restrictions and are working toward a way to do this.
2. Food allergy management and restrictions are different for every person.
A food allergy diagnosis comes with the acceptance of a certain level of risk. The amount of risk you are willing to take will determine how you manage your food allergy. Often times we are talking about a parent making decisions for their child where the level of risk becomes even greater. For instance, two children both given a severe peanut allergy diagnosis may manage their food allergy very differently. One child may not be allowed to eat manufactured ice cream since most ice cream plants run all their ice cream flavors through the same equipment and some contain nuts. While the other child might continue to eat ice cream bought at the store as long as it did not have peanuts listed on the ingredient label. The second child’s parents have deemed the store bought ice cream to be a small level of risk they are willing to accommodate. Be careful questioning a parent’s chosen level of risk for their child. You don’t know what reactions or past issue have gotten them to the level of risk they are at today.
3. We do not like asking for special accommodations.
Although we may be used to it, we do not like having to ask what is in each food item presented. We certainly do not enjoy asking for special meals to be made or bringing an alternative food item everywhere we go. For instance, if we ask if the bread was made with egg, don’t take offense or feel put out. We don’t want to ask. We have to ask!
4. We appreciate, more than you know, when you take our food allergy requests seriously.
When another mom, teacher, or server graciously accommodates our child’s food allergy, it brings many of us to tears. This simple act of kindness is not overlooked by food allergy mothers and greatly appreciated! You might have just made someone’s day.
As a food allergy mom, I have been met with all types of reactions to our food allergy restrictions. From statements such as, “Well, we can’t eliminate every food!,” to “What can I bring that your child likes?”, we have heard it all. So, this Food Allergy Awareness Week, try looking at food allergy requests as important and necessary, and you will brighten a food allergy mom’s day.
For e-mail alerts when new articles are written, click subscribe
Follow me on Twitter @GRallergies
Comments can be left below and are appreciated