Food Allergy Awareness Week. Thanks to my complaining posts on Facebook over the last couple of years, you are probably more aware than most...But I plan to post a few things this week.
I had a friend when Elise was little, whose child was allergic to corn. This made crackers and snacks nigh unto impossible for her to eat. She also was allergic to faux sweeteners that made medicine the holy grail to find. It blew my mind at the time.
Then when Charlotte was born, I had a friend who had a son at the same time. They discovered within the first 18 months of his life that he had a rare food allergy/reaction called Eosinophilic Esophagitis. In a nutshell, when he ate something that he was allergic to, his esophagus would swell up, causing vomiting and difficulty swallowing. I remember telling her that I would much rather have a child with Down Syndrome than a child with food allergies.
For the record, I still say that.
Thanks to the candy popcorn incident, we discovered that Charlotte was allergic to food dyes. With that awareness, we ended up doing a food diary, because the food dyes was not scratch test/blood test-able at the time. Thanks to the food diary, we learned that she was allergic to several preservatives...which has further snowballed to almost all preservatives, stabilizers, and thickeners. Also amaranth, sunflower seed (sunflowers seed oil!), cottonseed oil (cotton shirts are still fine, thank God!) and we seem to be adding them by the week...
With the food allergies, not only does her mouth swell up and rash, but it impacts her attitude and behavior. Like it turns her into an emotional raving lunatic, complete with rocking, humming, screaming, and general irrational-ness. When we went to her 3 year check up, our pediatrician recommended against any more vaccinations because of this emotional fragility to external initiation. I had done a staggered vaccination schedule and she had started reacting to stuff when she was under 2, so I had declined the MMR. While I do not believe that vaccinations "cause" autism, per say, I do think that they are the trigger for kids with an under-lying propensity. I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I was paranoid so early out, because I am convinced Charlotte would be "that kid".
With all this, comes the necessity of reading all packaging and reading FDA policies. And I have become one of the crazy, granola-thumping, natural people. The kind of person I always made fun of. Rather than become a short order cook, I have made the diet overhaul a family-wide affair. And I have discovered terrifying stuff about our food as a nation. I believe part of our nation's obesity problem is indeed from the lack of playing and exercise, but I also believe that it is also inherently linked to the constant chemical man-handling of food. It's not what our grandparents ate anymore. Heck, it's not even what out parents ate. Europe has banned dyes, certain preservatives, and a whole host of things in their foods thanks to proven medical links to psychological and physiological impact. Interestingly, our companies are complying with their bans for them...BUT NOT FOR US. I cannot tell you how crazy that makes me.
All this to say, food allergies are not just "inconvenient". They are a huge deal. They are not to be blown off. Medically or personally.
Please, PLEASE if someone is allergic don't be careless, try and make changes in your party options. Include natural and non-food options. And consider reading up on some of the food you eat. It might just change your world.