This FAAW I’m taking the opportunity to write to those that are not a part of the food allergy community, to those that don’t manage allergies on a daily basis about what they need to be aware of.
I don’t expect you to understand all the medical terminology that comes along with food allergies, the difference in RAST and Skin Prick Test, what IgE mediated means, or stay up to date on the immunotherapy studies. What I hope you are aware of is much simpler than that: we need your understanding, compassion and support.
Understanding – Food allergies are real and can be life-threatening. It isn’t a preference, picky eating, or a way to get attention (believe me I would much rather NOT have to draw attention to my child because of her allergies). The thought that a simple food could cause death creates fear, anxiety, stress, depression, and a multitude of other emotions for those individuals with food allergies or caring for someone with food allergies. Simply acknowledging that you understand the seriousness of food allergies makes a difference.
Compassion – Our world could use a little more compassion. Everyone has a battle they are facing. Food allergies are no different. Compassion for these challenges is important for both children and adults managing food allergies. Be kind to one another. Don’t exclude those with food allergies; find a way for them to participate safely. This can be as easy as offering nonfood treats at Halloween for children with food restrictions.
Support – Those managing food allergies can use your support. This support can come in very simple ways: wash your hands after eating, ask what foods are safe for your friend, move the bowl of unsafe candy out of reach of a toddler, help a child with food allergies remember to take their epinephrine with them. You can take it a step further and learn how to assist in an emergency. Learn how to be confident that you know how and when to treat a reaction. You could save a life!
It takes a caring community to keep individuals with food allergies safe and included. Food allergies are a unique medical condition where the health of the individual can be directly impacted by the actions of others. Please let your actions impact those with food allergies in a positive way.
Be understanding, show compassion and offer support.