I have a favor to ask you.
This is my sweet nephew, Levi. Levi is severely allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and eggs.
This is my sweet nephew, Josiah. Josiah is allergic to eggs, dairy and peanuts.
Levi is my brother, Josh and his wife, Andrea’s first born son. Josiah is my sister, Jordan and her husband, Justin’s first born son. There is no history in our family of food allergies so these recent discoveries have rocked our family for the past few months. It has been a battle of worry, lamenting, learning, fighting and repeating. After a lot of thinking and praying I have come to the conclusion that Papa has a purpose for this and maybe he wants to use our family to get the news out there about food allergies because the truth is, they are becoming more and more common.
“According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. This potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children (under 18 years of age) in the U.S. That’s roughly two in every classroom” (https://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats).
I could go on and on with statistics, but I think you get the point.
To be honest, a year ago I had no idea what the big deal about food allergies was. I honestly just felt inconvenienced when I couldn’t eat a certain food in certain areas. Now, I want to shout out to the world how important this issue is.
I know it stinks not to be able to eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, but THIS IS LIFE THREATENING! I mean look at this face.
I’ve seen the hives on his body when peanut butter even touched his skin. Can we please make a few sacrifices so Levi and all the other children with food allergies can be safe?
I have not only seen the effects allergies have on the kids, but the burden of this invisible disease on parents and families is enormous. Spending last week in Florida with my family really opened my eyes to this. When we went to the grocery store, we had to read every label to make sure items were safe. In one Publix there was a sign that said “all of our meat items in this department may have come into contact with eggs, dairy, nuts, etc”. Well, we had to leave and get our meat somewhere else. When we wanted to get breakfast at the airport we couldn’t because Starbucks and Great American Bagel both didn’t have information available on which items contained dairy and peanuts. So we didn’t eat. Because what I didn’t realize a year ago is that even if people around the kids eat these items, it can be bad for their health. For example, let’s say I eat a monster cookie for breakfast (may or may not have done that this morning) and then go over to watch Josiah for the day. If I kiss him anytime in the next five hours, he will break out in a rash. And the more his skin comes into contact with these items, the less likely he is to out-grow the allergy. So food allergies not only affect what the children eat, but what everyone around them eats as well.
So how can we help these kids and parents live with a little less fear and show them deep, considerate love?
-Maybe try going a week without dairy, eggs and nuts in anything you eat so you can sympathize better with families with food allergies.
-Maybe when you host an event make sure to take note of any food allergies and then do research and make baked goods that are safe. The few extra minutes it takes to find a new recipe and use the right ingredients will make a world of difference.
-Maybe help raise awareness of food allergies so that restaurants start offering more allergy friendly options.
-Maybe contact your school and ask what food allergies there are so lunch preps can be made conscious of what foods to avoid.
-Maybe share this blog post so we can spread the word about the deadly effects of ignorance about food allergies.
-Maybe on Halloween put a teal pumpkin out on your front porch and offer peanut free snacks or alternative items such as glow sticks or coloring books.
So I guess I am asking you a few favors. For my nephews and for all those other precious children who have to face the daily reality of food allergies.