Food allergies – social dilemma?!


Methinks, a tongue in cheek approach to one’s food allergies makes it way easier to handle social stresses. Aah – those moments when I am subjected to annoyed stares if I make the severe faux pas of asking more than once if a slice of cake has nuts in it or request for special food arrangements for my son so he can be safe. The challenge becomes bigger when we travel abroad to places where food allergies are unheard of. Case in point – India! In such places people have a bemused, indulgent approach 🙂 Many look at me…’the overprotective mom from the overly sanitary US environment’. Hard to  explain to them that food allergies are as real as any other physical ailment even though the symptoms manifest themselves only when one ingests something the body cannot handle. That means, food allergy sufferers have to be careful 24/7. Telling people that the wrong food might cause anaphylactic shock and sure death if a dose of epinephrine is not given with 5 minutes just makes me look ‘paranoid’ and I must add – most people don’t even believe me. For most a food allergy is still just a rash or an itch which food allergy sufferers should learn to tolerate rather than make a hue and cry about it – oh yes!

That’s why the recent case of parents in a Florida school staging a protest because the school is taking the required measures to keep children with severe food allergies safe comes as no surprise. CNN has a very compelling report titled ‘Parents fight school’s peanut policy‘. I can only imagine the trauma kids with food allergies and their parents must be going through given such an environment. A must read for all allergy sufferes and care givers. Helps us understand that we not only have to be careful about what we eat, we also have to be prepared for a lot of resentment from some in the larger society.

Makes me wonder – what is the best approach when trying to keep kids with food allergies safe…a gentle, non-confrontational but firm approach or, a strict, up-in-arms approach. Or, does the answer lie somewhere along the curve?!

2 thoughts on “Food allergies – social dilemma?!

  1. I have a son, 8 yo. with a severe dairy allergy so we also carry around an epipen. I do indeed understand every word you say and only those with children or someone close with a severe food allergy know what your talking about. I always say, at home we don’t have any “problems” at all (or very little), the “problem” comes when you walk out the door. The problem is when you step out of your controlled enviroment and step into the incomprehension world of others that have no idea of what are food allergies, and therefore, show no tolerance or understanding in your situation and to top it all up people with no knowledge of food allergy based on what they know of the celiac disease give you heaps of advice of how you should be dealing you sons food allergy. In other words they’re just telling you not to be so paranoid and not to exaggerate the situation.

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