I know Thanksgiving is a North American thing and just to fragment that a little bit more, Canadian Thanksgiving is over a month before American Thanksgiving. Personally, that works well for us since coast-to-coast, Canada is stunning in autumn. Yup, there’s rain. But there are also gloriously sunny days when the weather is crisp, the air smells smoky and all the leaves are turning orange, yellow and (my favourite) red. It’s weather that makes you want to take a walk, visit a winery, go trick-or-treating and just generally get what you can out of the weather before you have to don a heavy coat and gloves.

As someone with food allergies and all atopic conditions, you’d think that Thanksgiving might be a difficult time for me. The thing is, that I’m grateful for the allergies that I do have. I could have more. I could have ones that are more difficult to handle. As it is, it’s pretty easy for my family to create an allergy-free meal that we can all eat without feeling like they’re missing out anything. There are often some dishes with butter (but I get my own version) or desserts I can’t share in, but since we spend Thanksgiving in Ottawa, I have two great bakeries to choose from – Auntie Loo’s (vegan with gluten-free options) and Thimblecakes (nut-free bakery with vegan and gluten-free – and more – options). So, I’m never at a loss and I don’t have to make my own dessert, though I’ve been eyeing an allergy-friendly plum tart I saw in the Globe and Mail a while back.

I don’t want to say that you should be thankful because “things could be worse”. That’s not all that optimistic. I’ve never loved the rationale that everyone in North America should be thankful because at least we’re not starving in Africa. There’s poverty throughout this continent and on every other continent, except Antarctica. Though at the rate we’re going, I’m a little worried about the penguin’s food supply.

So, as people with food allergies, let’s consider all the people who don’t have the money to buy things like gluten-free products, dairy-free products and nut-free products. Food allergies are not a problem limited to those of middle- and upper-incomes. Children, adolescents and adults who can’t afford to eat both well and allergy-free need our help, our knowledge and our compassion.

I really hope you contact your food bank and find out what food allergy-friendly food they can use throughout this year and contribute accordingly. Sometimes, that may mean simply donating money they can use to buy what’s needed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just to get you started, here are a few webpages to find out more. No time like the present!

Food Banks Canada (http://www.foodbankscanada.ca/)



I developed eczema within a few days after my birth and from the ages of nine to 17, I began to develop other atopic conditions, environmental, animal and food allergies, including eggs, dairy, shellfish and some nuts. Now, in my 30s, I have a good handle on everything, but I’m always trying to see how I can make things better by living a healthier lifestyle. My background includes public relations and healthcare communications. So, I use my skills to share my atopic and allergic experiences on my blog – Atopic Girl’s Guide to Living, with the goal of helping allergic and atopic teens and adults, since growing up and dealing with allergies and atopy is a lesson in itself. I also microblog on Twitter @AtopicGirl It's not just about figuring out what to eat. It's about finding out how to live well!

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