My son Bryson has had food, medicine, environmental allergies and eczema since he was a baby. At one point, he was allergic to fish, shellfish, all dairy including eggs, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts. He grew out of his allergies to wheat and eggs while picking up an allergy to black tea.
Through the years, his food allergies have dictated activities and outings that he and the rest of the family could participate in or host. I have found myself preparing food for parties that were not even my child’s in order to ensure that he had something safe to eat.
Most times people focus on what it is that my child cannot eat and the sadness that he surely must feel at never having been able to lick an ice-cold scoop of vanilla ice cream or wolf down a peanut butter patty. My wish is that instead of focusing on a perceived sadness and sense of missing out that they believe that he should have, is that they instead focus on including him in the activity at hand. There is a certain cost of food allergies and that cost is the isolation and sadness that is felt when food instead of the person is the made the focus of events.
For the last twelve years, my child has enjoyed a very full, active, productive, and fun life while managing his food allergies! Does he still look forward to the day when he may be able to eat real pizza with his friends and not worry? Of course! But, until that time, he has so much more food free fun to have! And fortunately, when he needs a safe snack, there are allergy safe snacking companies like Ohh Foods that are there for him.
In the future, I hope to see more emphasis placed on inclusive eating. I believe that in order for this to happen though, people’s attitudes about food allergies will have to change through not just education but through accepting the education that is needed for everyone to take food allergies seriously.
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