May is Food Allergy Awareness Month

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Remember last March, when many of us were bleach wiping everything and wearing gloves, along with masks every time we left the house? For most people, that is the closest thing to dealing with food allergies. In fact, while most of the population was learning how to manage to stay away from unknown germs, people who live with allergies were ahead of the curve

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 65 million Americans overall have allergies. Some people may have one or both of these conditions.

  • About 32 million Americans have food allergies (26 million adults and 6 million children).
  • There is no cure for allergies.

May has been food allergy awareness month since 1984. I’m old enough to remember 1984….and I don’t remember anyone with food allergies from back then. In fact, from 2007 to 2016, there has been a 377% increase in treatment of diagnosed anaphylactic reactions to food. 

When most people hear food allergies, they think of dairy, nuts, and gluten. Almost 10% of the population deals with allergies to milk, soy, wheat, shellfish, or peanuts.

In fact, the top allergens that must be labeled on foods are dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, gluten, fish, and now sesame

The reality about food allergies is you can be allergic to anything. My first experience with someone having a food allergy was someone allergic to strawberries in 1999. Fast forward to 2011, when my first son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies. Boy, was that a crash course I never wanted to take. 

Thankfully, a decade later, life with food allergies has become a little easier to manage thanks to laws about packaging and restaurants being more knowledgeable on how to accommodate allergies. Still, when companies profess to be allergy-free, those of us managing this life want to scream. There is no such thing! The proper term is allergy-friendly. 

According to FARE, every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. Think about how much unnecessary stress this adds to someone’s life.

May 9-15 FARE and others will be celebrating Living Teal Food Allergy Awareness Week. What are you able and willing to do to help spread awareness and understanding?

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Maria is a full-time mom, teacher, wife, daughter, and sister, who feels pulled in too many directions! Her older son Michael took over 24 hours to be born, and at six-months-old was diagnosed with allergies to dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, shrimp, and wheat…all after exclusively nursing because she was SO SURE that would help him be a healthy kid. Luckily at age 1, he began to outgrow some of his allergies. Fingers crossed the others will soon follow because that plus a husband who doesn’t eat any veggies and Maria always battling her weight makes for three meals to prepare every night. Luckily, Christopher, her younger son, is a cooperative eater! As someone who has always been committed to making positive change, Maria uses her privilege and position as an educator and mom to work toward a most anti-racisit, equitibile, and inclusive world. Recently, Maria has even started getting up at 5am to workout in her basement. (Thank you pandemic living!) She is addicted to reading chicklit on her Kindle app in the dark, most Trader Joe’s products, and watching TikToks.

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