I feel that there is a misconception when it comes to food allergies. From day one of Penny’s diagnosis, I have heard different comments such as “a little bit won’t hurt her, would it?”, “she will outgrow that as the years pass, you’ll see”, “she must be allergic to peanuts because you had too many peanuts when you were pregnant”, or “ so what happens when she eats dairy, she gets a tummy ache?” As questions/comments like these kept coming up, it was pretty clear to me that Food Allergies can be misunderstood.
These misconceptions concerning food allergies can be due to ignorance, lack of education and awareness, or even indifference. I really don’t know the reason why food allergies are sometimes taken lightly, but I would like to encourage non-food allergic people to take some time and Walk A Mile in our Shoes. One example of this that comes to mind is when non-allergic people have told me that when they visit restaurants they say that they have a food allergy because they are either trying to lose weight, have an intolerance or are, plain and simple, avoiding a certain food. As much as I want to understand their situation, I have to say that this does not help with the understanding of our community. Let’s think about this: What if someone falsely claims that they are allergic to a certain food when in reality they’re not, and let’s say that the kitchen staff serves them the alleged allergen (or just takes the food out of their plate when notified, maybe leaving some residue behind). Then the restaurant staff sees this person eat “the allergen” and see that there’s no reaction. Or, what if someone falsely claims to be allergic to a certain food; then when the food arrives, that same person takes a bite from someone else’s dish, which does contain the alleged allergen, and again the restaurant staff sees that there’s no reaction. I would assume that eventually, people in that restaurant will stop taking Food Allergies seriously.
If you are part of the Food Allergy community, you probably eat most of your meals at home. If you are like our family, there are certain restaurants (I can count them with one hand) that you trust and visit. For me, it is extremely hard to trust anyone with my daughter’s meal because you can’t really see what’s happening in a kitchen that is not yours.
I feel like Empathy is something that came with the territory. I try to understand people and their situations, but sometimes I have to speak up for the safety of my children. If my daughter consumes dairy or peanut, she goes into anaphylaxis. She’s not trying to be an inconvenience, she’s not trying to avoid a certain food for the fun of it; for her, it’s a matter of survival. Non-Food Allergic person that reads me: Next time you ‘re ordering your food at a restaurant, please think about the consequences of making an order with a false food allergy claim. It might seem harmless to you but for people like Penny, it could be life-threatening.
***DISCLAIMER: THE TEAL INGREDIENT DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. ANY INFORMATION POSTED ON THIS BLOG IS NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE ANY MEDICAL INSTRUCTION OR ADVICE. I AM A PARENT SHARING MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, OPINION, AND SUPPORT. IF YOU HAVE ANY SPECIFIC MEDICAL CONCERNS, CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR.***