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16Jul

An Atopic Girl’s Perspective on “Disordered Eating”

This post was inspired by reading yet another amazing post by the Allergist Mom: “My Disordered Eating“. Essentially, the question is do you avoid eating food your child is allergic to? Part of the answer is related to guilt, since what person wouldn’t feel guilty about eating something that someone they care about can’t? Another part of the answer is related to contamination and introducing the allergen into the home, but I’m not going to address that since it varies so much. I’m simply writing from the perspective of someone who watches others eat foods I can’t on a regular basis.

In the post, there is a picture of the Allergist Mom eating a deviled egg and enjoying it. I love this picture. I think it’s so important that parents and siblings are not restricted, as much possible, regarding what they eat.

One of the most important lessons an allergic child, youth or adult has to learn is the difference between fairness and equality. The world is not a particularly fair place for anyone nor is it necessarily equal. However, when it comes to food, equality is the goal. Having an equal experience doesn’t mean that the person gets to have the same food as everyone else. It does mean that they partake in the experience equally – a birthday party, an anniversary or a dinner out. They’re not left staring at an empty plate while everyone else is enjoying a meal.

Another reason is the basic fact that if you’re not allergic, you shouldn’t stop eating a food. Especially if you enjoy it. Especially when you’re out of the house, that is your opportunity to enjoy yourself. Any parent of an allergic child lives with a constant degree of stress and guilt. If an ice cream cone or a slice of pizza brings you a bit of happiness, it’s silly to deny it.

So, if it’s not physically harmful, I think it’s important for children and youth to see that their parents and siblings eat different foods. It was difficult for me as a child, but as I got older, the fact is that I got used to it. Most importantly, I love the food I can eat; so, I rarely look at anyone else’s and wish It were mine. In fact, people usually look at my meal and wish it was theirs.

Quick note: I will now be posting weekly. Look for new posts every Monday on my blog, Atopic Girl’s Guide to Living, and the TalkHealth blog. As always, if you have something you’d like me to talk about – something you want to know – let me know.

  

12 Responses to Why You Should Eat Foods Your Allergic Child Can’t

  1. Hello Atopic Girl!
    Thank you so much for sharing this! I think that hearing from people with food allergies is very helpful for parents. It is another extremely valuable perspective. As I read, I was shaking my head in agreement, food allergic people are not the only ones who can’t eat what others are eating. People who struggle with obesity or live with diabetes, for example, often eat different foods from others sitting next to them… Thank you for sharing this. I will post this on my Facebook page.
    Have a wonderful day,
    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,
      Thank you for the comment and thank you for the post. The health of an allergic or atopic child is quite dependent on the health of the family and you address that so well in your posts. Plus, having allergies offers a lot of opportunities for personal growth as you’ve pointed out.
      Thank you,
      Tristan

  2. Julie

    I have struggled with how to handle this with one allergic chld and one not. Thank you for your perspective on this, much appreciated!

  3. Karen

    I think that unaffected family members should eat whatever they can if only to reinforce the “its ok to eat differently” in a safe place with no pressure. I think I would feel differently if my kids had ever had an severe reaction to a food, then you have to worry about food residue and the trauma might scar me like the OP by the allergist mom. If I saw one of my babies go limp, I may never want a peanut or egg again. My kids have EoE so they have to avoid a ton of food but reaction is horrible but not life threatening.

    • Hi Karen,
      I agree entirely. I definitely understand how a parent can be turned off by a food or how avoiding it can be easier. With my family, I have to be aware of what they’ve eaten before they kiss or hug me and my niece/nephews know they have to wash their hands well after eating something their Auntie is allergic to and sometimes I have to forgo getting a kiss on the cheek.
      Thank you so much for your comment.
      Best Regards,
      Tristan

  4. Kathy R

    My daughter with the peanut allergy is two and my son who does not have any allergies is five. We found out about her allergy last year. We don’t eat peanuts in our family as we’re still learning how to avoid it and training my son that she can’t eat it. I’m concerned about “fake peanut butter” causing confusion with the kids that they won’t be able to tell the difference between the real thing and the substitutes if they ever encounter it outside our home. The only substitute peanut butter we will use is Sunbutter, so it is super clear that is our kind of butter in our family. Probably once the kids are older we’ll make sure they know that our son can eat it outside our home, but he has to wash hands carefully afterwards.
    As for me, peanuts have caused so many problems in our life I have no desire to eat it. I wish I could boycott them and they would disappear from the earth.

    • I have the same feeling towards cashews. My entire family loves them, but they’re one of the most dangerous allergens for me and seem to be everywhere lately. My family banned them from the house until I got older. It’s still a bit difficult to not feel a bit scared when I actually see a cashew, but I remind myself that as long as I’m careful, the risk is minimal.

  5. Cheryl

    I have 4 kids, all with multiple and different food allergies. Not to mention I have multiple food allergies as well. If we all avoided what everyone was allergic to, we would all starve! It is hard with them all so young (7 and under), but i’m working on training them now, so as to have less problems later. I always try to have foods that are equal, but not the same. For instance, my daughter does not eat fish and my son cannot eat pizza, so I serve him fish sticks the same night she gets pizza. They both enjoy what they have on their plate, so they don’t really want what is on someone else’s. So, everyone is happy, including me!

    • Hi Cheryl,
      I love the balance you’ve struck in your family. It sounds like your children will easily learn how to navigate having allergies as they grow up because they have you as a role model and you have such a great outlook. Thank you for your comment.

  6. Michelle

    Thanks for this post! My son has Lots of food allergies, and his 2 sisters none (so far, thankfully). I think this will help alleviate my guilt to remember that fair isn’t always the same. 🙂

    • Hi Michelle,
      You’re welcome. My two sisters don’t have allergies, either; so, it was a bit tricky growing up. I’m glad you feel a bit less guilt, because there’s no reason your son can’t have just as great of a childhood and life as his sisters.

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