Since my little guy was diagnosed with food allergies 3 1/2 year ago, I feel like at times he’s treated differently. I feel like (and know) that we’ve been left out of activities and it’s very depressing and very isolating. Food allergic kids are normal kids. They run, play, throw tantrums, love LEGOS, eat (safe) ice cream, and have friends-and they want to FEEL ACCEPTED. Food allergic kids may eat differently than most, but they’re still kids and want to be treated that way. They want to be loved, and I want to this to be a list that you can share with the non-food allergy community to help them cope, understand, and still love your food allergy kiddo-no matter their age. I hope this will be especially helpful during the holiday season, and spur some stronger relationships and mend some broken ones that food allergies may have weakened. Too often I hear about food allergy families that don’t have supportive extended families, and that needs to change.
If a food allergic kid asked you to love them, they might want to say…
1. Invite me. Yes, still invite me to your house or party or restaurant get-together. “But you can’t eat any of the food here”, you might say. No, I can’t, but leave it up to my mom and dad to decide whether we can go to your party or with you to the zoo. Here’s some tips that might help my parents accept that invite….
2. Clean your house. I like to play and be normal and I touch things. Wash things like tables and chairs with a hot, soapy dishcloth so when I touch them I don’t get peanut or dairy on my hands. If I accidentally got it in my mouth I would have trouble breathing and have to get a shot. The shot scares me and I don’t want to miss the party and go to the hospital.
3. Put my allergens away. I’m allergic to peanuts, so will you put them away while I’m at your house? It scares me when they are on the table and people are eating them in front of me. I don’t want to have a reaction and it’s not safe for me to be around them. I just want to feel safe, not scared. I don’t like that food can hurt me, but that’s how God made me. Will you help me stay safe so I can just have fun?
4. Wash your hands, please. Wash your hands if you just had something to eat. I might be allergic to something you just ate. One time, someone kissed me on the cheek after having a peanut butter & jelly sandwich and my cheek swelled up and got really red. Oh, and make sure you have your own kids wash their hands and face after eating. Sometimes I like to hold hands with my friends and I don’t want to get sick from doing it.
5. Sometimes things hurt my feelings. When you get a big ice cream sundae and all I can have is a scoop of ice cream my mom brought from home it hurts my feelings. Don’t make a big deal out of things, just don’t forget that some things like that make me sad.
6. Don’t ask me what I eat. I eat chicken, pizza, cookies, fruit, and rice. I eat food and can have Oreos, too. Sometimes my mom or dad has to make safe food for me, but it’s really yummy.
7. Don’t talk about me. I really hate it when everyone talks about my allergies in front of me. I just want to be normal and eat like everyone else. It just makes it worse when everyone talks about my allergies in front of me, because sometimes I don’t like to feel different. I think it’s OK if you ask my parents, but make sure I can’t hear you.
8. Have something safe for me to eat. It’s so awesome when I can go to a party and you’ve talked to my parents ahead of time and there is safe food for me to eat. Even if it’s just potato chips or pretzels, it’s pretty awesome that I can eat some of the party food.
9. I’m just a kid. I’m just a kid and I like to have fun. I hate it when I’m left out of things because of my food allergies. I really can have fun and have friends, it just takes a little extra work sometimes to keep me from having a reaction. I love parties and games, and I hope you think the extra work is worth it so I can go to parties or the zoo and have a good time.
10. Do you love me enough? Do you love me enough to skip your peanut butter and jelly lunch, even though you have it every day? I know everyone else loves your peanut butter pie at Christmas time, but it scares me that I might have a reaction. Do you love me enough to put the bowl of nuts in the cabinet when I come to your house? Do you love me enough to change things a little so I can play with me friends? Do you love me enough to help my mom and dad keep me safe, just for one day? Do you love me at all?
Is there a food allergy kiddo in your life that needs some lovin’? I hope this holiday season you’ll find it in your heart to truly love a food allergic kid.
Is there anything you’d add to this list on how to love a food allergy child?
Please share this post so that food allergy kids everywhere will be loved this Christmas and holiday season.
Thank you to Tiffany at www.foodallergyfun.com for allowing her images to be used for advocacy and education.