Because allergies and intolerances are so prevalent, people are becoming more understanding. There are many, many sweet people in my life who are very considerate of our diet. (We have one neighbor who keeps almond milk in her fridge in case my son comes over and another who buys him special popsicles in the summer. We live in the best neighborhood ever!) It is hard to understand allergies and intolerances, but as an “allergy mom” there are a few things that I wish everyone knew.
1) This isn’t in my head. Like I said above, most people are very gracious. There are a few people who think that most parents are making this up. The vibe a parent gets from the skeptic is that allergy parents are drama queens. We make this up because we like having a special kid. I smile because if the skeptic knew how much work having an allergy kids was, he would know that the drama queen would give up the act in short order. (It is harder for people to understand food intolerances. Allergy testing can be cut and dry. Often there is not a test with a “positive” or “negative” result for intolerances. A very helpful resource for understanding intolerances is What’s Eating Your Child? by Kelly Dorfman.)
2) Please don’t be offended if I dig through your trash. I ask many strange questions. I have asked for a list of ingredients. I have asked to know the menu of a meal in advance. I have asked to go through the trash to read a food label. I don’t want to be perceived as a pain, mistrusting, nosy or rude. I just need to know what my kid can or cannot have.
3) Don’t feel bad if you forget. I personally feel that as the parent I am the one responsible for my allergy kid’s food (even if we are away from home.) I do not expect my sister-in-law to plan a dairy-free menu for her daughter’s birthday party just because we will be there. (That is why I ask a lot of questions.) Others are not accustomed to cooking and eating this way, and I don’t have the expectation that they ought to. Many feel bad, and I don’t want them too! It warms my heart when you think of my child, but I am not hurt if you forget.
4) Please don’t argue with me about what my child can or cannot eat (especially in front of my child.) It is not fun to be at a Christmas party with a sad little boy who can’t have the cookies. It makes matters worse if I have to argue with Great Aunt Matilda because “One won’t kill him” or “Cousin Barney had a dairy allergy. He had one and was fine.” Everyone reacts differently. I am trying to make the best decision for my kid. Please trust me (and encourage my kid to trust me too!)
I did not want to be in the “Allergy Mom Club,” but here I am. I am thankful for all that I have learned about food, our bodies and nutrition because of it. I do hope that someday my kids will outgrow their dairy issues, and I hope that for all the other allergy sufferers out there that the answers to allergies and intolerances are found soon.
This post is linked at http://wearethatfamily.com/ and http://www.foodrenegade.com/ and http://homesteadrevival.blogspot.com/