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Food For Thought...

On October 12, 2013, my family and I participated in the FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) Walk for Food Allergy 5K. The cause hits close to home because our daughter is NOT allergic to typical allergens – eggs, chicken, or peanuts. She has a sensitivity to food dye – yellow #5 and red #40. She is so sensitive, she reacts from colored markers to colored play-dough. The Walk is a family-friendly event to help make a safer world for those living with food allergies. Our daughter is not alone with her sensitivity to dye, but as her advocates, it is OUR duty to speak as loudly as we can to educate the safety of kids with food allergies.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a food allergy is an immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a certain food causing severe symptoms or a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. Every year there is at least one story in the media about an individual dying from an allergic reaction. Food allergies have become more and more common in US schools, and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 4 out of every 100 children in the United States have a food allergy. Unfortunately food allergy related deaths continue to occur in and out of school.

There really is no cure for food allergies, although the only way to prevent a food allergic treatment is to avoid the problem food at all times and in all circumstances. It’s not always easy or even possible to avoid certain food – especially for young children. Realizing how to avoid certain food allergens and how to prepare for an allergic reaction will help our school community play an important role in establishing a kinship of inclusion and support for children with food allergies or intolerance.

Submit a “Food Allergy Action Plan” if your child has a food allergy.

*Comprehending the basic medical facts about food allergies.

*Avoiding the Allergen.

*Recognizing a Reaction.

*Enacting Emergency Action Plan!

Include a one-page document detailing foods your child is allergic to, the symptoms of an allergic reaction, the requisite treatment, an emergency contact and doctor’s contact information.

Food allergies are NOT fake nor are they imaginary. Comments such as these are hurtful:

“He’s probably not really allergic.”

“She just doesn’t like to eat that so she says she’s allergic.”

“I’m not going to deprive my child of his favorite treat.”

We are a catholic community and the negative comments contradict our Catholic values. Students are influenced by the negative messages and attitudes towards food allergy. Remember, food allergies can be life threatening and should not be judged by emotion. A solid understanding of food allergy management and emergency preparedness such as learning about different anaphylaxis misperceptions can make a huge difference in a student’s feeling of acceptance and self-esteem.

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