With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.

23 July 2012

Food Allergy Feelings

I make homemade ice cream for my younger, allergic son, about one quart at a time. and buy ice cream that does not have peanut or nut ingredients for my other son and me to eat. At the supermarket lately, we have this recurring scenario. The older, non-allergic child laments that all the "good" flavors have nuts in them. Even flavors that don't appear to have nuts contain peanut oil. (Why, Hood, why?) It does seem like about half the ice cream sold at our local grocery store contains peanuts or nuts in one form or another. The younger, allergic child doesn't react, speaking only to point out tasty looking flavors to his brother. Eventually, the older child settles on a Hood ice cream that has a coffee flavor and contains chocolate pieces shaped like lighthouses. Unlike so many Hood ice cream flavors, it contains coconut oil not peanut oil.

I remark to the older child that while he can't choose any flavor he wants because we don't want traces of peanuts or nuts at home, his brother cannot have any of the flavors in the store's freezer at all. Put yourself in your brother's shoes, I say. I'm sure he would love to try ice cream from the store. There wasn't much left to say after that.

A lesson in empathy.

It's not easy to have food allergies and it's also not easy to be a non-allergic sibling of a food allergic child. There often is a degree of sacrificing and restriction out of concern for the allergic child. Sometimes that can cause frustration for children, but it also is a constant exercise--and a good one--of selflessness and learning to put someone else before yourself, being mindful about others' safety and well-being. Those are important qualities. 

I stress to both my children, that I do not mind being careful about what foods we buy and eat. That's just part of who we are. It's my routine to keep everyone safe. It is not a burden. It's not a sacrifice either because there are so many good foods for us to eat, we don't really miss out on much, if anything. In fact, oftentimes the "safe" foods are actually a little nicer than "regular" foods. Moreover, my children know I'll learn or try to learn how to make any food we can't buy. 

Are we eating the same exact stuff as families with non-allergic kids? No. Does it really matter? Are we missing out? Not really. The older child gets to choose different flavors of tasty ice cream in eye-catching tubs from the supermarket freezer, and the younger child gets to eat whatever flavor he wants, homemade by Mom. The only flavor I wasn't able to figure out was a swirl. Everything just gets blended together; so if anyone can help us out on that one, we'd appreciate it!

1 comment:

Dorothy-Life With Boys said...

It's a hard balance to juggle the needs of the FA kid vs the needs of the non-FA kids. For the most part, we've adjusted our entire family's diet to make it easier for our FA child (and me!). If we are out at a function & there is food, most likely my youngest can't eat it (he's top 8 free), so NONE of us can eat it. However, when I have my non-FA kids out with me & we've left FA brother at home, i do treat the older ones. That seems fair.