Food allergies are so scary. I’m not going to sugar coat it all.
The first year after my son’s diagnosis, I cried myself to sleep most nights. It’s so overwhelmingly crippling to think that something out there in the world that is legal, readily available and found everywhere could be so dangerous to your precious little one.
I’ve used the analogy of a gun. Guns are scary right? Well if someone had a gun, it would be very apparent and avoided and they certainly wouldn’t be allowed to wave it around, or bring it to the park while you play or even have a display directly at toddler reach while you check out of your local grocery store.
For us, nuts can be deadly. And yet they are everywhere. I would fall into a panic at the sight of a nut snack wrapper or the unmistakable smell of a peanut butter sandwich on the bench next to you. It could be milk, eggs, soy, shellfish- whatever the food allergy, whatever the allergy, it is tough. Very tough.
Well, I’ve learned to try to see the good in things whenever possible. Thankfully, the days where we as a society eat our tv dinners and packaged meals without ever reading a label or questioning a chemical we cannot even pronounce are past us. And I believe it took something as deadly and scary as food allergies to help this along, to help us become what I call “Food Aware”.
It forced research into action. It required companies to be more forthright with their labeling and they could no longer hide behind complicated terms they knew a consumer wouldn’t recognize.
I’m not saying our labeling procedures are perfect. In fact, I do still think there is a lot of work to be done. But I’m now hopeful that we as a country will progress our requirements and ban GMOs ( Genetically Modified Organisms) like the majority of the western world.
Recently major companies like Campbell’s, Kelloggs and General Mills agreed to label for GMOs. Its progress.
I think equally important is the consumers level of awareness-which has been greatly raised with food allergies and the spreading of knowledge on things like celiac disease. Five years ago, I don’t think the majority of society would know what the word gluten is, now I feel they do.
It took something like this epidemic to educate us as consumers. Ingredients are being paid more attention and questioned. The origin of food and its make up are taken in to consideration. Organic is more and more available to the masses and preferred in many many situations.
Yes, again there is a lot of work to do but we as a community are much more FOOD AWARE than we were before food allergies. We are reading labels and we are contacting companies and we are sharing our recipes and substitutions and talking about it.
I think its that sharing and that spreading of this Food Awareness that will continue our growth to a healthier community. And I pray that some day, very soon, these food allergies will be a thing of the past… just like those damn tv dinners… xoxo