What You Should & Should Not Say About Food Allergies

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happy Thursday friends!

As some of you already know my son Graham was recently diagnosed with a peanut allergy.  Josh and I definitely did not see this coming.  We're bummed that our son can't enjoy peanut products like we do. (I eat PB&J literally once or twice a week.  Well, I used to.)  While we hate that this has happened we're very thankful that he's only allergic to peanuts.  We're also hopeful that his allergy will diminish over time.

Now on to the point.  I know this world of raising a child with a food allergy is new to me.  However, I am very familiar with the risks and lifestyle that comes with it.  I have numerous cousins and other family members with food allergies.  I've seen and heard enough to know that there are some things that you SHOULD NOT say to a parent of a child with food allergies.  Believe it or not I was told/asked all of these in the last few weeks.

1) Did you vaccinate him? 
OK I know what you're getting at here.  Unless you have the scientific evidence and statistical proof that there is a correlation between vaccinations and food allergies I really have no interest in continuing this conversation.  

2) Did you get your flu shot when you were pregnant?
Yep, sure did.  See my response to #1.

3) My child will take whatever he/she wants for lunch to school.
Well you sure are a winner, aren't you?  Why don't you do me a favor?  Picture your child with hives all over her body with her eyes almost swollen shut struggling to breathe and vomiting -  or even worse, picture her going into complete anaphylaxis shock.  Maybe you should have a little compassion and not be so self-centered.  Your child can have her PB&J when she gets home from school.  Yes I know it's annoying but is your child's peanut butter worth my child's trip to the ER?  Nope, sure isn't.

Whew, those got me fired up!  Let's end on a positive note, shall we?  

Now that you know what NOT to say, here are some great things to say to encourage &/or comfort the parent of a child with food allergies.

1) Can you show me how to use the Epipen (or in our case the Auvi-Q)?
Yes I would love to.  It's better to be safe than sorry!

2) What else is he/she allergic to?
Thank you for asking, it is so important to be aware of all the risks.

3) Keep Graham away from that casserole, there are peanuts in it.
Thank you for the warning! (I know in a perfect world there would be no peanut products at any family function but let's be honest sometimes your aunt just HAS to make her peanut butter pie.)

4) We will pray that he outgrows it!
Prayer is always welcomed, thank you.

Food allergy parents, do you have any to add?  Feel free to use this as a vent sesh, I just did!


  1. I can't even believe some of these were even asked to you... I must admit though, it's not just you... Even myself being allergic to wheat, flour, gluten, rye, and barley, I get the most random questions asked about my conditions... I am so sorry you are having to go through all of this, it really is a complete lifestyle change. But I am SO happy that peanuts were the only thing that came out of it. (I guess we just always need to think of the positive!).

  2. Awe, Heather! I can't believe some people's ignorance at times. I hope Graham, you and Josh do not have to deal with another allergy scare. I still haven't given Eileen strawberries or peanuts because I'm nervous about the possibility. But it's good to know and be educated on how you can protect him ;)

  3. This is a great post, Heather! Thanks for helping to educate people on ways they can help. Sometimes its good to know helpful things in addition to the things NOT to say. As a pharmacist, I see many of these situations and I always love learning new ways to help others and be compassionate (especially since I'm not a parent yet!). It's also great to see that you are willing to help others learn about treatments/rescue options. I like that you also don't respond to silly questions that lack proof scientific proof :)


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