When I was a little girl, there was another child in our school that was allergic to chocolate, and one of the nuns was allergic to eggs. And those two scenarios represented my exposure to food allergies...until I was an adult.
Now, I know a lot of people with food allergies. This comes from more people talking about them, but also because I prepare a lot of meals for cub scouts, and I HAVE to know what everyone is allergic to so I don't accidentally send anyone to the hospital. That position has given me insight into way more allergies than I was previously aware of: Nuts and dairy are still the two biggest offenders, but I have also seen soy, mushrooms, bell peppers and oranges.
And, of course, there is the sensitivity level range. Whenever I hear that one of our scouts has an allergy, I ask how sensitive someone is because we only have so many heat sources and cross-contamination is a very real concern.
The result is that I have a lot of sympathy for folks who have to go through their lives double-checking the contents of their food to ensure that they can eat it.
I am always impressed when one of the scouts will tell me what their allergies are, and how sensitive they are and what to do if they accidentally ingest something they are not supposed to. It's clear that they have had this drilled into them by some very good parents.
But younger children don't have the ability to speak for themselves, so it is up to parents to communicate allergies effectively. And that can be hard - especially with relatives. It turns out that relatives are not-so-great at understanding food allergies. The good news is that most parents find a successful resolution with straightforward communication - which includes outlining the repercussions for their child.
With the holidays coming up, it sounds like this is a good time to start reaching out to remind hosts of what children can't eat or to think through what dishes you could bring to the meals that you know are safe for everyone to eat.
Does your child have a food allergy that you need to warn others about? Share in the comments.