There I was, standing in the bread aisle. I could not believe it. Every single loaf of healthy looking bread had the same dreaded words:
This product contains or may contain nuts.
I was 600+ miles away from home and hit head on with the reality of my food allergy. Eating will never be the same.
Nearly in tears, I called my mom and asked her to send me her homemade bread recipe. It was either that, or “Wonderbread”.
Although I confronted the realities of my food allergy head on in 2005, I’ve had food allergies since I was 5 years old.
A little taste of a Brazil Nut at Christmas time led to my throat itching and swelling, and a diagnosis of a nut allergy.
When I was little, managing my food allergy was easy, as nuts were relatively easy to avoid. Now, however, nuts are in just about everything.
Although I don’t talk about allergies often here on the blog, they are a real part of every moment of my life.
Having a food allergy impacts the way you think about food. Since so much of our culture revolves around food, having a food allergy impacts you at least three times every day, often in ways you might not even expect.
So, what are we allergic to?
- All tree nuts (e.g., Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, etc)
- Seeds – sesame
- Most raw fruits & vegetables
- I have Oral Allergy Syndrome where my body thinks that the raw fruits and veggies I consume are actually pollen molecules that I am allergic to (like Birch or Maple pollen). As a result, my body reacts to these raw fruits.
In addition, my MIL has celiac disease, which requires here to avoid gluten and dairy.
Needless to say, we are no strangers to food allergies.
Seeing as this week is Food Allergy Awareness Week, I wanted to share my story with you and remind you of a nut-allergy series Lynn (from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures) and I did a few years ago and share my three tips for friends with food allergies.
Three Tips for Supporting Someone with a Food Allergy
- Respect the food-allergic person’s boundaries. Food-allergic folks have clear boundaries that allow them to feel comfortable with food; these boundaries change over time, but they are well-thought out and intentional.
- Please don’t take offense if we are not comfortable eating what you prepare, even if you go out of your way to prepare allergy-friendly food. See #1 above. If you are interested in cooking for a food-allergic friend, take a look at my tips.
- Please understand the severity. One of the biggest challenges food-allergic folks face is a misunderstanding about the severity of the allergy. This is understandable with all the vocabulary – allergy, intolerance, sensitivity, etc. For an allergy, though, all it takes is one molecule to trigger an anaphylactic reaction. This could be a result of cross-contamination, a real concern for those with food allergies.
Do you have a food allergy? Know someone with an allergy? I’d love to hear about your experiences with food allergies.