React with Respect: Food Allergy Action Month!

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React with Respect2On May 8, 2016, the Empire State Building was, for the first time ever, lit in teal to bring public awareness to the effects of food allergies. (FARE has honored those with food allergies since 1989.) As the Food Allergies: React with Respectand an elementary school educator, I deal with food allergies almost every waking moment. For this reason this year’s theme, “Food Allergies: React with Respect” is extraordinarily meaningful to me.

http://www.foodallergy.org/food-allergy-awareness-week Check out the resources, which include this printable poster.
http://www.foodallergy.org/food-allergy-awareness-week
Check out the resources, which include this printable poster.

I have heard many smart, well meaning people say some harsh things about those with food allergies. For example, some schools no longer allow food celebrations; parents automatically blame the families with food allergies. When I hear this my blood boils. Do people think my son, who is allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts and sesame does not want to celebrate with a cupcake or cake pop? Of course he does! He just has to be more careful than everyone else.

http://www.foodallergy.org/food-allergy-awareness-week Check out the resources, which include this printable poster.
http://www.foodallergy.org/food-allergy-awareness-week
Check out the resources, which include this printable poster.

This year FARE has chosen the theme, “React with Respect.” What does it mean to React with Respect? It means understanding that everyone has different food allergies. Nuts and dairy have gotten a lot of air-time in the world for allergies. The reality is any food can be an allergen. I remember one of the first students I taught, some sixteen years ago, telling me she was allergic to strawberries. I doubted the validity of this claim until I saw her accidentally eat a strawberry and immediately get hives on her face. That was enough for me to know this was serious.

My oldest son is almost five years old and was diagnosed at six months with multiple food allergies. I was devastated but vowed from that day forward, that he would not miss out on life because of his allergies. Thankfully he has never needed to use his Epi Pen, but he knows we can’t leave the house without it. We are fortunate to have family and friends who are thoughtful and careful. Any and all people with food allergies want to be treated like anyone else, with respect.

What does it mean to you to React with Respect? Do you live or deal with food allergies on a regular basis?

*As this is a topic near and dear to me, I have linked in my previous posts to help those who would like resources for life with allergies.

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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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