Everything is going to be okay, really. I know, food allergies are tough, super hard. You wonder how you’re going to get through it. But you will and it will be your child’s normal. We like to say “Vigilance without Paranoia.” Do your due diligence, but don’t freak out in front of your kid. If you do, they will pick up on it (they’re very perceptive) and they will learn to freak out about it too. And you don’t want that. You want a kid who is confident and has the willpower to get through each challenge life throws at them.
You want a kid who grows up and if they see someone who is dressed up as a giant peanut while walking down the street (and they have a peanut allergy), they roll their eyes and walk by. Or they casually walk across the street. You don’t want them to fall onto the sidewalk, clutch their legs, and close their eyes tight hoping their nemesis will just disappear. Or walk up to the stranger and start yelling at them on how could they be so insensitive.
I’ve read stories about kids who were put in a protective bubble by their mother for their whole childhood. Then as adults they realize their allergens are out there and they have trouble dealing with them. And I’m not just talking about peanuts. Anyone can be allergic to anything. We can’t wipe out every possible food that someone might be allergic to; there wouldn’t be any food left. We have to teach them that it’s okay for other people eat it, but to be aware of them and be cautious.
Life is one series of challenges after another. How you go about meeting them is what helps to define who you are. It’s okay to be uncomfortable, scared even. But don’t let it control you and your life.
I’ll let you in on something. I have a phobia of bees. When I was a kid I was playing soccer in my yard with a friend. The ball was kicked to the side of our house where a lot of dandelions were growing. He picked up the ball (which must have rolled into a bee) and was stung. He screamed out and was rushed home. When I went to check on him later on, there was a wasp nest by his front door and a few wasps buzzing around. I ran up to the door, knocked, and quickly moved back. My friend was watching TV while laying on his stomach with a big welt was on the back of his leg. It scared the crap out of me and that’s probably where my phobia came from.
When I saw a bee outside I would move quickly away. I didn’t want to be near them, but I didn’t let it overtake my life where I wouldn’t venture outside for fear of being stung. A while back I was moving a trash bag out to the curb and there must have been a bee trying to make its nest there or something, because it was disturbed and I got stung, finally. It certainly wasn’t the best experience, but it wasn’t the worst either. It hurt, but it wasn’t really that bad. Now when I see a bee I don’t run off. I grit my teeth and try to move away, but my fear isn’t as bad. (Now if I was allergic to bee stings that would be another story, but that’s why you carry TWO epinephrine auto-injectors, right?)
You know what else scares me? Traffic accidents. There are a lot of them. In 2013 there were 32,719 deaths from motor vehicle crashes. Sometimes when my wife leaves the house to drop off our kids at school, I sometimes wonder if that’s the last time I will ever see them. The key word is sometimes. If I thought about it all the time, I would probably curl up in bed and never leave. And that’s not healthy—and it’s not living.
In fact, there are a lot of death curve balls that life throws at you. Meteors falling from the sky, planes crashing into your house, lightening strikes, drowning in your bathtub and falling off a mountain are but a few. But again, you can’t dwell on what could happen.
Sure, food allergies can suck, but it doesn’t mean your life sucks. There’s no reason why you can’t lead a long, healthy and happy life with food allergies.
You know what I think sucks? Cancer. Especially childhood cancer. Kids should not have cancer. But I bet a lot of people don’t dwell on the negative and are completely down all the time on how it sucks. I like to think that there is hope and with research and awareness it gets a little bit better every day. Just like with food allergies.
I see my wife, who has a lifelong tree-nut allergy, casually pick up a box of food we’re looking at getting and check the ingredient list. I see my sons self-advocate for their allergies and raise awareness to their teachers and classmates. Especially my oldest son. When it’s brought up that someone has a food allergy in the classroom he speaks right up and says it’s him. Because he’s so forthcoming about his allergies, his school friends know about it. Now, when a friend’s birthday party comes up, their parents sometimes contact us about his allergies and how they can accommodate him. It’s such a great way to spread awareness in a non-threatening way! I haven’t seen his food allergies bother him too much or control his life. It’s just something that he has to deal with and I couldn’t be more proud on how he’s gone about it so far. He is truly an inspiration for me and our business.
I’m well aware of the severity of food allergies, along with everything else in life. But we read labels and ask what’s in a food that didn’t come from us. If we don’t know what’s in it, then it’s not consumed. I wear my seatbelt going near or far, I look both ways before crossing the street and I don’t run with scissors. We take precautions, but we don’t let fear control our every move. We like to think the emotion “Joy” is in control most of the time, like in the movie, “Inside Out.” And with that and a little bit of luck, I hope all of us have a long and fruitful life. Because really, everything is going to be okay.
Most of the time, blogging is a solitary craft–but through the magic of the internet (a food allergy resource Eileen’s parents never had) we’ve met so many wonderful people who are all walking the same life as we are. The online Food Allergy Community (and broader free-from community) is a place where you can surround yourself with people who “get it!” A few of us got together to share this series of tips for dealing with food allergies in 2017. So read the tips and full articles (the articles are great!), share, and enjoy!
“Remember that everything is going to be okay, really. I know, food allergies are tough, super hard. You wonder how you’re going to get through it. But you will and so will your child.” Allergy Superheroes
“Food allergy support; this is a vast, never-ending place where people from all over the world meet. This is a family that you never knew existed and that you didn’t think would ever be a part of your life.” read more here Tracy Bush Nutrimom- Food Allergy Liason AllergyPhoods
“Sometimes food allergy related stress builds up and the best response is to pamper yourself! Allow me to be your allergy mom BFF and tell you why you should pamper yourself” read more here Sharon Wong Nut Free Wok
“When you are managing a serious medical condition, this could be the most important thing to do. I share the one tip I wished someone had shared with me when I first became a food allergy mom” read more here Gina Mennett Lee, Food Allergy Consultant and Educator
“Being gluten free or avoiding allergens doesn’t mean you can’t have a social life. It just means you have to plan more. Don’t let allergies keep you home. Be your own advocate and plan ahead. Take your health seriously and other will too ” read more here Amanda Kanashiro My Gluten Free Miami
If you have a tip for starting off the New Year right with food allergies, please share in the comments!