All I Want for Christmas
I’m a glass half-full kind of girl most of the time. But every once in a while, especially around the holidays, this food-filled world of ours gets on my very last nerve, and I want to scream from my roof top: Stop with the cupcakes
So just for today, I will indulge in my fantasy of a world where allergies are always easily accommodated. Here’s my wish list.
I wish that every allergy-friendly product was available at my regular grocery store and that it was the same price as all of the "regular" food.
I wish for food labels that include every ingredient, not just the top eight allergens, and every natural flavoring or spice is spelled out for us. And, since I’m on a roll, how about mandatory precautionary labeling (i.e. may contain)? I’d like to know if my son’s sorbet was processed on lines with butter pecan ice cream.
I wish school cafeterias sold little cartons of Rice Dream, and served gluten/dairy/egg-free dinosaur chicken nuggets, French fries made in safe oil, and dairy-free, nut-free frozen treats, so allergic children everywhere could "buy" lunch without worry.
I wish that birthday cupcakes at school would be outlawed, and that there was never a need for a "safe snack box," because enlightened teachers would know how important it is to include all children in classroom celebrations.
I wish that classroom parents could live one day in our shoes, so they would realize we are not trying to infringe on their rights (to cupcakes?), but that we are merely trying to prevent a serious allergic reaction.
I wish that every birthday party invitation had a line for "Food Allergies or Special Dietary Needs," so at least the hostess would be aware. And, I wish that every invitation included exactly what would be served, so we allergy moms could plan accordingly.
I wish that when entertaining, our relatives and friends would keep the food in one or two areas during the holidays, so we could keep an eye on our kids and the food instead of having bowls of nuts or candy dishes in all parts of their home.
I wish the general public understood that there are allergies to many foods, and it is not just the dreaded peanut. I also wish that they’d stop rolling their eyes when they hear someone is allergic to sesame, or mustard, or banana. We didn’t ask for these allergies, but they’re real just the same.
I wish that teachers and other caregivers would put on our allergy-colored glasses when caring for our kids, and that they’d follow our child’s 504 plan or food allergy action plan to the letter.
I wish that every restaurant had one dedicated fryer, gluten- and dairy-free rolls and pasta, individually wrapped, dairy-free margarine, at least one pre-packaged, allergy-friendly dessert, and that all restaurant personnel were trained on food allergies.
I wish there was an ice cream parlor where my son could get a gluten-free ice cream cone topped with dairy-, nut- and peanut-free sorbet or rice milk ice "cream" served of course, with a clean scoop and just for good measure, let’s take out the nasty food coloring too!
And last but not least, I’d wish for a world where legitimate, diagnosed food allergies are taken seriously by everyone, including the media; where we allergy moms are not accused of exaggerating, being demanding or even hysterical. I won’t wish for anyone to have to actually witness or treat an anaphylactic reaction, but I’d love for everyone to have the wisdom to know how much we want to avoid them.
So that is my wish list. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Gina is a life coach, speaker, author, and advocate at allergymoms.com. She wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Allergy.