May flew by in a flash. Just because Food Allergy Awareness Month is over, doesn’t mean our advocacy stops.
As a parent of children with food allergies, advocacy and sharing food allergy education and awareness is something I have to deal with daily. It took some time to for me to feel comfortable with it. During the first year I often felt offended or defensive when I was questioned about the reasons why my child developed food allergies or how we could survive without dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat. It took some time for me to understand and appreciate that people were simply taking an interest in our lives. Now I welcome the opportunity to explain what living with food allergies is like.
I used to be scared that people would tell stories about my son that start something like this “I know this boy and he’s allergic to basically everything, and I feel so bad for that family …” I didn’t want people to pity us, because the last thing my son is, is a victim.
As time passed, my son learned how to take care of himself and how to ask for help from people around him to stay safe. My anxiety and insecurity started to fade and I realized that people will always tell stories about exceptional circumstances, but it’s our responsibility to help people understand and share the truth. This is why it’s so important to share your experiences and help educate others about food allergies, so that people gain empathy instead of sympathy. The story that they tell others might then sound like
“I know this boy and he’s allergic to basically everything, but he eats just like everyone else using different ingredients. He can also be in the same place as others eating his allergens, the kids just need to wash their hands and face after eating …”
The more we can share with people that don’t live with food allergies, the more they will be able to relate. Not because they fully understand our lives (they don’t need to), but because they will be able to place a face in front of food allergies. So maybe the next time they hear someone say something mean or insensitive about food allergies, they might step up and advocate for your child.
We asked the food allergy community to tell us why they felt food allergies rock. Here are some of the amazing responses. Food allergies rock because …
- the food allergy community is so supportive!
- because I’ve learned to read labels like a pro. I’ve also met a lot of fantastic people in the community.
- having food allergies has shown our family how caring, attentive and compassionate our friends are concerning our daughters allergy!
- for us having multiple food allergies means no processed foods, no fast foods, mostly whole foods & home made
- because of food allergies my kids face frequent exclusion but this has lead to compassion & empathy for others
And finally, my reason for thinking that food allergies rock … is because my kids rock!
While I never dreamt of living the life of a food allergy parent, the fact is that my children have food allergies. We have made many positive changes to the way we eat and the way we live, but it’s what we needed to do and that’s just the way it is. My children are happy, confident and healthy – and they also have food allergies and need to be vigilant about the ingredients in their food.
Food allergy advocacy is as simple as sharing your story. Helping people get to know how extraordinarily normal our children are when they are kept safe from their allergens can help eliminate fears and make sure our kids do not get excluded. It’s about giving people a reason to be kind.
Kyle Dine CD Contest:
Thank you to all who participated in the contest! A random draw was done on June 1st. The winner of the draw is Kathleen!!
To order your own Kyle Dine CD’s, visit kyledine.com