It’s Time to Stop Making Fun of Food Allergies


It's Time to Stop Making Fun of Food Allergies - Columbia MomHave you ever had to watch as your child almost died right in front of you? All you could do was stand there and feel absolutely helpless, praying that the medicine he was given would save his life. Everything feels out of control as you watch and wait and wonder if you’re going to lose your child. 

I’ve had to experience just that. I watched as my son suffered a severe anaphylactic allergic reaction to walnuts, and all I could do was watch, wait, and pray. I felt hopeless as my small two-year old child’s entire body filled with hives and swelled up like a balloon. There was nothing I could do but try to comfort him as he continually vomited over and over again, as his body was rejecting the walnuts in his stomach. Nothing I could do but pray and helplessly watch as we waited for the ambulance, wondering if his airways would constrict. It was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced; wondering if my child was about to die right in front of me. 

This is the reality that many parents, like myself, are faced with each day. We are the parents of children with life-threatening food allergies.

The problem is that not many other people take food allergies seriously. Food allergies have become the butt of jokes on many television shows, movies, commercials, late night talk shows, and more. But it needs to stop. 

It’s time to stop making fun of food allergies. 

Earlier tonight I was watching a show on the Hallmark channel. The show finished but I left the television on as I was cleaning up and getting ready to go upstairs to bed. A movie called Snowkissed started to play. At first, it seemed just like any other Hallmark movie I’ve watched. But then something happened that made me stop in my tracks.

The two women on the screen started talking about who one of them was dating. The lead character asked the supporting character about the guy she was dating who had a food allergy. The supporting character responded by saying, “He had a peanut allergy. You know how much I love peanut butter. That relationship was doomed from the start.” 

I just stood there with my mouth agape, not believing what I just heard. Through that one statement, Hallmark channel was essentially saying that a love for peanut butter was more important than a person’s life; more important than getting to know someone who you might potentially want to marry; more important than a HUMAN BEING. 

Peanut butter, or any food, is NOT more important than a person. If you love someone, you would willingly give up that food they are allergic to. That’s what we have done for my son. We easily gave up tree nuts and the other foods we also discovered he was allergic to. And I don’t regret it for a moment. Never will. My son is FAR more important than a type of food. I can live without eating tree nuts for the foreseeable future, but I can’t live without my son. 

Sadly, this is just one example out of many. In February, Uber Eats was called out for their Super Bowl ad in which a man forgot he was allergic to peanut butter and was about to eat it. Fortunately, Uber Eats agreed to edit that part out of the commercial before it aired. But not many companies have done so. There are many films television shows where food allergies are made fun of or not taken seriously. These include Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Peter Rabbit, Hitch, The Boxtrolls, Glass Onion, Horrible Bosses, and The Big Bang Theory

Food allergies are not a dietary preference. They are not people just refusing to eat certain foods because they don’t like them. Food allergies are a serious condition that can cause death. What many people don’t understand is that even a piece of food the size of a crumb can cause an allergic reaction. For some, just inhaling the dust from a nut can cause a reaction. That’s why many people have called for airlines to stop serving peanuts/nut mixes on airplanes. 

What I don’t understand is why food allergies are not taken seriously. If something can cause death, seems to me like it should be taken very seriously. If movies and television shows were to start making fun of cancer, you know there would be an uproar. If things like heart and lung conditions were made fun of, people would be upset. Those are life threating also. But for some reason, people think it’s OK to make fun of food allergies, which are also life threatening. 

I want you to read the beginning of this post again. Put yourself in my shoes and imagine what it would be like to helplessly stand by as you watch your two-year old (or any age child) struggle for their life right in front of your eyes. All it takes is a few seconds for the airways to close during anaphylaxis and cause death. Yes, there are Epi-pens, but they are not a guarantee. Oftentimes, a biphasic reaction can occur and cause death. How would you feel if it was you watching your child struggle to breathe? I don’t think you’d be making fun of food allergies then. 

Instead of making fun of food allergies, let’s raise awareness. May is National Asthma and Allergy month, with May 18-24 being Food Allergy Awareness Week. Take a stand and learn how you can support those around you with food allergies, instead of making fun of them. 

How will you support those around you with food allergies? 


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