I’m currently sitting in my office looking at a recent picture of my daughter and me at our state capitol with the governor to advocate for food allergy awareness. If you’ve followed Allergy Amulet for a while, you know I’m a passionate food allergy mom!
One of the greatest things about food allergy awareness week is that it’s a conversation starter. I LOVE that statistics are being shared left and right to paint the picture of how many people are affected! Heck, even buildings around the country are “turning teal” in recognition!
However, it’s important that the conversation not just be about how MANY people are affected, but HOW they are affected. So in the spirit of awareness and conversation, I wanted to share 10 things I’d like other parents to understand about food allergies!
1. Food allergies are not a choice. We don’t know why our family has food allergies, and we have to manage them diligently every day. Please don’t feel sorry for us, help advocate for us!
2. Food allergies can be life threatening and they’re a serious health issue, not simply an inconvenience—trace amounts of a food allergy protein can be deadly.
3. Food allergies require planning. We can’t often join spur-of-the-moment outings, so please make sure to give us a heads up so we can plan ahead!
4. If we ask questions about your food multiple times, it’s not because we don’t trust you, it’s because there’s no room for error. It’s not personal, it’s precautionary.
5. Food allergies can be draining—mentally, emotionally, and financially. We can’t let our guard down and our vigilance level is always in “on” mode. We want to experience the same events and activities as everyone else, but it’s not always easy.
6. We’re not germ freaks if we ask you to wash your hands after eating, or if you see us wiping down an airplane seat with disinfectant wipes. It’s simply that we are trying to keep the risk of allergen exposure to a minimum.
7. Activities don’t have to involve food to be fun! If you know that someone with food allergies will be joining an activity or celebration that you’re organizing, try to be mindful of the foods they avoid (and give them a heads up if their allergen will be present so they can plan accordingly)!
8. Always feel free to ask questions. We will never get annoyed if you ask us a million questions about our allergies. Education is the first step to understanding!
9. We’re just parents doing what we have to do to keep our kids safe. Please realize we’re not trying to inconvenience you, and that we’d do the same for your child!
10. It helps to have a village of support so you don’t feel like you’re isolated on an island—if you are part of someone’s village, THANK YOU. It’s not an easy task!
Lastly, I leave you with some brilliant words from Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who. It seems appropriate for food allergy awareness week. ☺️
Don’t give up! I believe in you all!
A person’s a person, no matter how small!
And you very small persons will not have to die
If you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!
The Mayor grabbed a tom-tom. He started to smack it.
And, all over Who-ville, they whooped up a racket.
They rattled tin kettles! They beat on brass pans,
On garbage pail tops and old cranberry cans!
They blew on bazookas and blasted great toots
On clarinets, oom-pahs and boom-pahs and flutes!
Great gusts of loud racket rang high through the air.
They rattled and shook the whole sky!
When they got to the top,
The lad cleared his throat and he shouted out, “Yopp!”
And that Yopp…
That one small, extra Yopp put it over!
Finally, at last! From that speck on that clover
Their voices were heard! They rang out clear and clean.
And the elephant smiled. “Do you see what I mean?”…
They’ve proved they ARE persons, no matter how small.
And their whole world was saved by the Smallest of ALL!
– Meg and the Allergy Amulet Team