The diagnosis of a food allergy can be life changing. Things that seemed simple like going out to eat, traveling or a play date with friends can feel overwhelming. As with most situations education is power, and in the case of food allergies education means safety.
After some time had passed, and keeping my children safe began to feel more manageable, I was able to see some small blessings that this experience has provided our family. Don’t get me wrong, I would give anything to not have to worry about every bite of food my children take, or if the boy up to bat had peanut butter on his hands before my son picked up the bat. Since this is our destiny, we are able to find some of the positive changes it has provided.
Managing food allergies has inspired our family to become healthier eaters. Working to eliminate allergens from a diet forces you to become an avid label reader. When half of the ingredients in a product label have over five syllables and appear to be something that would be in a science project rather than something you would ingest, it makes you think twice before you feed that to your children. We eat less processed foods, and eat more fresh foods. We eat out less and have to plan more for meals. We bake more, cook more and make healthier choices about what we eat. We might not have been so selective or made cooking and baking a family affair prior to our experience with food allergies.
Having two children with food allergies we have become the parents who chaperone events, run the car pool and take care of snacks for school parties. It is important that we are involved in knowing what will be served at all times. When we cannot be at an event we need to know that whoever our children are with can recognize a reaction and are trained to administer an Epi-Pen. For this reason we find ourselves much more engaged in our children’s activities than we might have.
So for all the worry we have daily, and how a simple change of events can throw me into a panic, I still try to remember the positives that have come from this experience.
I would love to hear your “silver lining” story.