To wrap up Food Allergy Awareness Week, I want to share a little bit about how emotional it can be to deal with severe food allergies.
The truth: how I feel as a mom
When Sophie was first diagnosed with food allergies, I have to admit I was nothing short of terrified. And it took time to not be extremely fearful to give her any food - even the food that we knew was safe.
But ultimately, my husband and I decided: okay she has food allergies, but one step at a time we can figure this out. Let's celebrate what we can eat, come up with awesome recipes and make the best of it. Her food allergy diagnosis also came on the cusp of her (and my) diagnosis with Celiac Disease.
And so the journey began!
We immediately made our house free of her allergens and free of gluten. We tackled it as a family, and my husband and I never eat the foods that Sophie is severely allergic to. We don't feel deprived. For one, it's not safe.
Food proteins can last on surfaces for more than a week unless cleaned thoroughly.
Washing your mouth will not remove all food proteins from your saliva.
People have experienced allergic reactions from being kissed by someone who had food protein in their saliva and some of these reactions were fatal.
Plus, you just don't look at food the same. Nuts, for example, aren't a "food" to us, but rather a danger that we avoid.
Foods that contain gluten aren't appetizing because it made us sick.
We just have a different outlook on foods now, and our diet is a huge part of our lifestyle so it becomes very fluid and natural to us.
But that doesn't mean I'm never scared or worried about Sophie's food allergies. I cringe when I see a nut-candy wrapper that blew in our yard from a neighbor. My husband and I notice things that most people wouldn't (crushed cashew on the sidewalk, pistacho shell in the sandbox at the park).
Social situations can also be difficult, because it may seem like no one really understands. The fact is, if they don't live it, they don't get it. You can't expect someone who has no previous knowledge of food allergies, to truly understand your situation. But hopefully you will find people that get it as much as they can. The most important part is that you understand, your child understands and is healthy, happy and growing!
To wrap this up, I want to let you know that people with food allergies do have rights. And below that, take a minute to check out some of the awesome resources we have in the food allergy community.
Know Your Rights
People with food allergies are protected under the American Disability ACT (ADA). A person with food allergies should not be left out just because they have a food allergy. Programs must be all-inclusive. For more information on this, visit Asthma And Allergy Foundation of America.
No Nuts Mom Group (facebook)
The BugaBees Friends with Food Allergies Book (website)
Food Allergy Awareness Apparel & Jewelry:
Mabels Labels (Food Allergy Awareness Stickers)