I've got food allergies. Life threatening ones. I grew up during a time when food allergies were not nearly as common as they are today and I have no way to calculate or fully understand the impact it truly had on my family life. I just saw a tweet from The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network with a link to a survey about the impact of allergies on caregivers. Frankly, despite how awful it is that so many kids suffer from some kind of food allergy today, I'm relieved to see that the issues surrounding their caregivers are being addressed (and so much more attention is paid to allergies in general).
Kids used to tell me that I should live in a bubble. I'm allergic to nuts and fish (among other things) - but my allergies go beyond just not being able to eat them. The oils of certain nuts and fish are so powerful that my body reacts just to smelling them, or touching a door knob that someone who ate those foods just touched. I carry an epi-pen and have been to the emergency room to get through bad reactions. Having allergies has made me more aware of the food I put into my body. I was a label reader long before it was cool. The ability to control what goes into my body is something that arose out of both need and anxiety in me. Those feelings are also what led me to create one of the specific features of LaLa Lunchbox. Users can customize their food library. Having choices and adding favorite foods is always a good thing, but being able to remove foods that make you sick or add foods that are in the safe zone was absolutely a must for my app.
Bizarre as it may sound, I had not previously considered the full picture impact of my allergies on my parents or my sister until I started reading Feeding Eden, by Susan Weissman. I plan to write a full review when I've finished the book and am finding it thoroughly engaging, honest and very emotional thus far.
For all of the caregivers of food allergy sufferers out there - hats off to you. To all of the food allergy sufferers, I hope you can take comfort and find safety in the amazing support systems that exist for you today.