Monday, 26 Jan 2009

Food Allergy Awareness

I realize that food allergies are a hot spot among many parents. From those who worry about their children’s health and well-being to those who believe their children should have a right to eat whatever they want, it’s a tug-of-war of liberties. I am not a super-militant peanut/nut/egg allergy mom. I don’t believe that my son’s entire school should be peanut free and I don’t think nuts should be outlawed in public places. On the other hand, my little guy is three and it would be nice if other parents took a moment to be courteous.

Here’s my plea:
1. If a location says it’s nut free, please be respectful. I choose where to take my son based on how comfortable I am that he can play without ending up covered in hives or, worse, in the hospital.

2. If a location has no allergy restrictions, please still be respectful. Peanut butter is the worst culprit because, unlike milk and other common allergens, it sticks to everything. Please consider bringing a non-peanut butter snack. Regardless, if your child eats something that is contains common allergens (for contact allergies, the biggest for kids would be nuts, eggs and milk) please make sure to wipe off the surface where your child ate and clean his/her hands and face. It’s just good hygiene, regardless.

3. Please don’t make me, or my son, feel bad because your child can’t have X snack at school. Sure, your child may live on peanut butter at home, but there are other foods in the world. How do I know? Because my child never eats peanut butter and he’s still doing ok. In fact, my non-allergic daughter doesn’t eat it either.

If you struggle to find snacks and lunches that don’t include peanut butter, try some of the following:

  • replace peanut butter with Sun Butter (made from sunflower seeds). It tastes so similar to peanut butter that many peanut-allergic folks avoid it because it’s just too close for comfort. Soy butter is also an option, but I don’t think it tastes as good.
  • make cream cheese and jelly sandwiches – plenty of protein and my kids love them, plus it goes will with all sorts of jam and jelly flavors
  • just go with jelly for a day – try a new flavor!
  • send yogurt or cottage cheese w/fruit
  • make english muffin pizzas the night before- kids love these whether they’re hot or cold

A little understanding on both sides can lead the way for a healthier, happier environment for all of our kids. Teaching tolerance starts at home.


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