Monday, July 16, 2012

Why You Should Eat Foods Your Allergic Child Can't

An Atopic Girl's Perspective on "Disordered Eating"

This post was inspired by reading yet another amazing post by the Allergist Mom: "My Disordered Eating". One of the questions asked is do you avoid eating food your child is allergic to? Part of the answer is related to guilt, since what person wouldn't feel guilty about eating something that someone they care about can't? Another part of the answer is related to contamination and introducing the allergen into the home, but I'm not going to address that since it varies so much. I'm simply writing from the perspective of someone who watches others eat foods I can't on a regular basis.

In the post, there is a picture of the Allergist Mom eating a deviled egg and enjoying it. I love this picture. I think it's so important that parents and siblings are not restricted, as much possible, regarding what they eat.

One of the most important lessons an allergic child, youth or adult has to learn is the difference between fairness and equality. The world is not a particularly fair place for anyone nor is it necessarily equal. However, when it comes to food, equality is the goal. Having an equal experience doesn't mean that the person gets to have the same food as everyone else. It does mean that they partake in the experience equally - a birthday party, an anniversary or a dinner out. They're not left staring at an empty plate while everyone else is enjoying a meal.

Another reason is the basic fact that if you're not allergic, you shouldn't stop eating a food. Especially if you enjoy it. Especially when you're out of the house, that is your opportunity to enjoy yourself. Any parent of an allergic child lives with a constant degree of stress and guilt. If an ice cream cone or a slice of pizza brings you a bit of happiness, it's silly to deny it.

So, if it's not physically harmful, I think it's important for children and youth to see that their parents and siblings eat different foods. It was difficult for me as a child, but as I got older, the fact is that I got used to it. Most importantly, I love the food I can eat; so, I rarely look at anyone else's and wish It were mine. In fact, people usually look at my meal and wish it was theirs.

Quick note: I will now be posting weekly. Look for new posts every Monday on AtopicGirl's Guide to Living and the TalkHealth blog. As always, if you have something you'd like me to talk about - something you want to know - let me know.

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