Dealing with the stigma of food allergies

benja rashes

Our baby has started to eat solid food and boy does he love his food! He would say, ‘Mmmm’ with a look of delight on his face during feeding time. Since he is just starting, I am sticking to rice/oat cereals and vegetables and fruits; no condiments, spices or even salt. Nothing commercial, all made at home, by me.

Mashed apples, papaya, bananas, grapes (juiced), orange, squash, broccoli, carrots, sweet potato, potato…everything went well. Then pears came and bam! He went from happy to fussy to itchy and had red rashes appearing on his face. We never touched pears again. I introduced yoghurt and again the rashes came and his face swollen. Thankfully, a quick anti-histamine medication (Zyrtec) provided relief.

Like his big sister, I can already assume baby Ben is allergic to milk, (most definitely) eggs and recently discovered, pears. Who knows what more?

It’s so sad because he loves his food and now we have to avoid some and be cautious all the time.

And as if allergy sufferers and parents are having it hard enough dealing with it, the social stigma is daunting. People would ask at my scratching child: Why? I wish I know the answer.

Some moms I know personally to moms I meet in clinics/hospitals are bluntly rude enough to say, “maybe it’s just your imagination!”. Or implying how lucky they are their babies do not have allergies, referring to allergies as “a disease of  weak kids”.

Then it’s shocking how some suggest an ‘allergy cure‘: “Just let your kid eat and eat the food he/she is allergic to and he/she will get used to it!”

Ignorance kills.

The truth is, food allergy problem is real. Parents with children who are allergic to certain foods do not make this up and children did not choose to be born with this.

It is hurtful to hear someone say that food allergies are “psychosomatic” – something dieters make up to avoid certain foods with less fuss. These people are of the opinion that no true allergy to foods exist.

Food allergies, although considered a joke by some people, are a medically documented disease that should be taken very seriously. Some food allergies can cause an anaphylactic reaction which can quickly become fatal if proper medication is not administered immediately.

My brother had an episode of anaphylactic reaction – his airway closed up when he accidentally ingested shrimps chopped small enough to notice. My daughter Pristine cries in pain when she has something with eggs. Her body was covered in rashes the first time she had cheese when she was small. She’s allergic to milk and eggs, and all its by-products. Now at 8, she can tolerate milk but still allergic to eggs. You would be surprised the girl is not thrilled at the sight of cakes and cookies – she knows her ‘enemy’ too well.

Allergies are life altering, life threatening for some. If you see a child/person with food allergies, don’t judge and if you’re not a doctor, don’t suggest anything.

4 thoughts on “Dealing with the stigma of food allergies

  1. I’m allergic to…pineapple. I love it, but since I don’t want to die, I don’t eat it. Anything he is sensitive to, I would discontinue until he is older. My nephew was allergic to milk and eggs, but now at 10 years old can eat them with no problem.

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  2. While I don’t have any sever food ALLERGIES, I do have food sensitivities; Some things I eat like wheat and dairy cause horrible nerve, joint, and or muscle pain while others I eat or drink like Coca Cola or a local burger at a local restaurant cause me to have a really bad emotional meltdown.

    I understand how food can be life altering and it’s a shame because most people don’t know what they’re eating has any affect on them what so ever! They mistake it for a disease that they take medication for, but if they only knew if they cut just a particular thing out of their diet, they wouldn’t have to take any medications and they would feel so much better.

    It’s definitely tough. But at least you’re learning these things early on!

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  3. Wow, I didn’t know you guys had allergies. You may remember my boys are sensitive to gluten (anything with wheat in it plus some other by-products as well) so we are very careful with food. Now it seems that perhaps the girls are as well and it transfers through my milk so I have to eat gluten free as well… not fun.
    So far though I haven’t run into anyone telling me it’s all in my head… but lots of people think it’s horrible to try and avoid gluten. I have friends who just won’t cook for us anymore because they think it’s this big scary deal. Just don’t use pasta or bread mainly! 😉

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  4. Hi there Grace,
    When I read your story, I had some very interesting thoughts. I am fourteen years old and I am a high schooler with MANY food allergies. Some of which include all nuts, all beans (except for soy nuts and beans), celery, and chickpeas. Luckily, I have outgrown a few allergies such as fish, shellfish, and wheat which I used to have. I do agree with you that it can sometimes be annoying when people say that allergies are in your head. But I do have a story to share with you that may change your mind. There is a well know pizza place near me which I would always avoid because I knew that they had eggs in their crust, and since I had had severe reactions to egg in the past (which I coincedentally had after I was told there was eggs in what I had just eaten).However, A few weeks ago, somebody made a mistake and told me the pizza ordered for a party was Dominos, and I then ate it and was fine. Well it turns out the pizza had actually been from the same pizza place with eggs in their crust, and I was fine. Also, its not like I simply had a small amount, I ate six whole slices. Either way, this event got me thinking, what if it IS just in my head. Things like nuts I know for a fact I’m allergic to (I scored over a 100 on the blood test). But eggs, now eggs I thought, what if? It had happened with wheat too, a false blood test kept me from eating a very popular ingrediant for 12 years. Either way, while this one not the smartest move I had ever made (I’m very good with allergies) I decided I had to find out for good if I was allergic to eggs or not. So I kept telling myself in my head that I wasn’t allergic, and when my friend brought in Dunkin Donuts next day, I snagged 3 boston cream donuts and 20 munchkins and I chowed down on more egg filled food than anybody could ever want. Guess what happened next? Nothing. Something which I had scored an 89 on for the blood test and a 4 on 4 the skin test was okay for me to eat. So next time you say it can’t be in your head, think again.
    -Avery

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