Helping Build Food Allergy Awareness

Close to thirteen years ago, we found out my oldest son had anaphylactic food allergies. In naivety,  when meeting a mom with a child with food allergies, I  brushed it off as a worried parenting thing, food allergies could not be “that” severe.  When my son first showed indications of food allergies my heart sunk at how terrified this mom must have been.  A lesson learned from that experience and now I continue to learn each day.  William is severely allergic to seven of the eight common food allergens with several leading to anaphylaxis. Discovering his allergies around eight months old has led us to a life of learning and adjusting.  Close to age thirteen, William and our family have learned to work positively with his food allergies and find ways to encourage healthy eating.  Additionally, he is able to voice more about what he is able to eat and has learned what he is can and can not eat.  Though his allergens have not decreased in severity, he is able to protect himself more.  This is much different  from his young childhood.  In getting used to William’s allergies and knowing that society was not (though is becoming more) well-informed about food allergies, I cringed each time I mentioned he has food allergies.  In a sense, I would prefer that a different name be given to food allergies.  Food allergies are an immune deficiency that makes it hard for a person to consume healthy foods and in many instances lead to a severe life threatening allergic reaction, anaphylaxis. With his diagnosis of food allergies, it was a challenge to find ways to communicate to others the severity of William’s food allergies without William being able to explain it to them himself.  Between the ages of 8 months and nine  years old it was hard for him to communicate to others why he could not have what they were eating or why it would cause him to become ill very quickly.  Working to find a method to help others be aware that this child has life threatening allergies to a variety of foods was difficult.  We looked for several ways to communicate his immune deficiency.  We did the best we could and for much of the time I was his best way to explain what was going on.  Coming across the post from AAAI, Inc. , the tags from Food Allergy Unboxed are so helpful for a child and parent and community who are new as well as veterans to the food allergy world.  This is a great idea to protect children (and adults) with food allergies as well as communicate, hey, my child (or I)  has (have) the possibility of becoming really sick from eating food.  If he does, you’ll know why, here it is.  As the years have progressed food allergy awareness has grown as well! I am grateful for this.  I am sure there are those that may still feel that food allergies are the overreaction of the parent.  I am here to confirm they are not.  There is a physical reaction that takes place.  There are also emotional reactions that take place–though that topic is for a different post.  My gratitude goes out to organizations like AAAI, Inc. and Food Allergy Unboxed as well as the many others that work to bring awareness,  products and ideas to help simplify and protect the lives of the children, parents and families involved in the food allergy world.

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