22 Things We Wish You Could Understand About Food Allergies

Food allergies are the rise in the United States and no one knows the reasons why. Food allergies are often misunderstood by the public and used as punchlines in jokes. But food allergies are no laughing matter.

 

A food allergy occurs when the body's immune system sees a certain food as harmful and reacts by causing one or more symptoms. Mild and severe symptoms can lead to a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis (anna-fih-LACK-sis). The treatment for anaphylaxis is an injection of epinephrine. The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to stay away from foods that have caused symptoms. 

 

To spread awareness about what it is like to live with food allergies, we asked our community, "What do you wish those without food allergies could understand?"

 

Here are some of your replies:

 

1. My son's allergies are a serious health issue, not just a preference. – Will

  not-preference

 

2. This is not something that we chose. It is not my son's fault that he can't eat or be near peanuts or tree nuts. – Bodie

 

3. I'm not being rude by making sure your kids wash after eating - because it could cause a reaction in my kid. – Chrissy

 

4. An invisible amount is enough to cause a reaction. – Frustrated Mama

 

5. My daughter’s milk allergy IS NOT the same as being lactose intolerant! – JZ

  milk-allergy-lactose-intolerance-chalkboard

6. With a little effort, community activities can be made safe for kids with food allergies. They just need to reach out and ask. – Glenda

 

7. I have no way of knowing if you really understand how serious this is, so please don't be offended, but I don't really trust you and I DO need to see all the labels myself.  – Jac

 

8. It is not a choice for my child not to eat certain foods. – Jill

 

9. We don’t make requests to be a pain or an inconvenience, the request is for the safety and inclusion of our child. – Betsy

 requests-for-inclusion-safety-flat

 

10. Food allergy responses are unpredictable. – Karen

 

11. My vigilance is about keeping my child alive, not about being picky or overprotective. We did NOT choose this life; but it is what we must deal with on a daily basis. – Kimberly 

 

12. How much time goes into planning regular life. - Errands, chores, activities, spur-of-the-moment fun  is viewed through an unwavering lens of "How can I make this safe?" – KS

 

13. I wish folks understood it's not a choice ... we are not being "picky" or trying to be "high maintenance." - Susan

 

we-are-not-picky

 

14. I wish those without food allergy understood how isolating it can feel for a child. Also, how it makes going out for things that would otherwise be simple just a little more complicated.   – LJ

 

15. The emotional toll that food allergies take on a child from constantly being excluded from having the same food as his friends and classmates. – Maria

 

16. My children are not broken. Food allergies are not a contagious disease to be avoided. – Stefani

 

17. All the hard work and diligence a parent must do to keep their child safe. We're not over protective; we're cautious, alert, "always on", never wavering, planning, thinking ahead ... Just so our child can enjoy the same simplicities as every other child. - Hauer

 not-overprotective

 

18. FA kids and families can never, ever, never let their guards down around food. Ever. – Steph

 

19. The difficulties in finding safe food for our family to eat. The high cost of the few foods that are safe for all to eat. – Ward

 

20. Cross contact can and does cause allergic reactions! Be it contact with foods at a plant or in the home, cross contact is a serious issue for those with severe allergies.  – jdoc284

 

21. How expensive epinephrine auto-injectors are. – jpros

 

22. PEOPLE are more important than food. – Graham

 

people-important-blue

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Hi aboreem1969 - it is definitely scary to send them off to school. It sounds like your son reacts to airborne proteins which makes it even more challenging. There are a number of treatment options being researched. I don't know of anything new specifically geared toward milk - many are for peanut, but they have not branched out to other allergens.

my son has milk allergy and I find it very difficult to think now about joining kindergarten. The problem is that allergy is very high -even the around smell of cheese can cause big allergy. I am living in Kuwait and awareness in schools is still low. Is there  new promising ways to treat? Thanks

Don't be offended if you said you read the label and we ask to see it anyway.  Unless you've been an allergy parent for years, you'd be surprised how confusing allergy disclosures can be.  For example, for some allergens, they might be listed under pseudonyms or scientific names that you might not recognize.  

Yes, I know your hamburger buns, crackers, cereal, etc do not contain pieces of peanuts that are visible to the naked eye, so please don't roll your eyes at me when I ask if there is a label I can read or if I can speak  with a restaurant manager about possible cross-contamination.  That and other parents please learn to read food labels!  Again, if the allergen is not visible it might still be there hence the "processed on the same equipment" or "processed in the same facility" "or may contain traces of" notes, so don't send your kid to school with  "just chocolate chip" granola bars to share for class snack if it includes any of the above allergen notes. 

Kids With Food Allergies
A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
4259 W Swamp Rd, Suite 408, Doylestown, PA 18902
Phone: 215.230.5394 | Fax: 215.340.7674
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