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You Might Live With Food Allergies If …

curtis_sittenfeld_fare_conferenceLast month, attendees at the first FARE National Food Allergy Conference were treated to a heartfelt, warm and witty keynote speech, “Finding Your Food Allergy Voice,” by bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld, whose daughter has food allergies.

Curtis’s riff on comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s popular “You Might Be a Redneck” routine was met with appreciative laughs. With many food allergy parents exchanging knowing glances at some of the familiar scenarios Curtis mentioned, we were not surprised we received requests to reprint her speech. We are happy to share this excerpt from Curtis’s speech.

  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you develop a strategy for attending a four-year-old’s birthday party with the same precision you’d use to invade a small country.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever been with a group of people singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame and you’ve wondered what you should do when they get to the line “Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks…” Should you keep singing? Should you go silent? Should you hum?
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … someone says milk, and you think, “Can you be more specific? Like cow milk? Almond milk? Soy milk? Hemp milk? Rice Milk?”
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever worried about what will happen when your child attends a slumber party … and she’s 2!
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … if you’ve ever worried about what will happen when your child goes to college … and he’s 9!
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever accidentally lost weight.
  • You Might Live with Food Allergies If … your greatest fear on Halloween is not witches, zombies, ghouls, or haunted houses.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever wondered if your child has food allergies either because you did fill-in-the-blank or because you did the opposite of fill-in-the-blank. Like, is it because you ate TOO MANY shrimp when you were pregnant? Or is because you didn’t eat ENOUGH shrimp?
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever been given extensive advice about how to handle food allergies by people WITHOUT medical degrees.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … before leaving home, you think to yourself: Keys, cell phone, sunglasses, wallet, epinephrine.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever stood inside a grocery store, reading ingredients on a package and thinking, wait, tricalcium phosphate—that doesn’t have milk in it, right? Thank goodness for smartphones, huh?
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever been to a party where the hosts tells you there won’t be any nuts in the food and what they mean is BESIDES the cashews in the pasta salad and the walnuts in the cookies. But yeah, besides that, there won’t be any nuts.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever been at a playground where someone’s else toddler was staggering around with a baggie of crackers and you’ve watched him as intently as if you were on a criminal stake-out.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’re not that into Martha Stewart or Rachael Ray but you just love Kelly Rudnicki and Cybele Pascal.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’re no longer on speaking terms with at least one blood relative either because they think you take food allergies too seriously, or because you think they don’t take them seriously enough. (An alternative to this is, if you wish you were no longer on speaking terms with at least one blood relative)
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever made a recipe from a vegan cookbook because it avoids milk and eggs but then you’ve added real bacon to it. I’m speaking from personal experience with that one—I have some great vegan cookbooks and I’ve thought to myself ‘I wonder if the person who wrote this would understand that I’m working within certain restrictions or if they’d just think I’m a corrupt, disgusting carnivore.’ We’ll save that question for another day.

Do you have your own “You Might Live With Food Allergies If …” to share? Post yours in the comment area!

Thank you, Curtis, for a great speech in Chicago and for granting permission to reprint excerpts here! 

24 thoughts on “You Might Live With Food Allergies If …

  1. I might live with food allergies if: friends/family members didn’t give me a plate of something I just passed over because because of an allergy to what was served. Hate it when someone else thinks they know exactly what my allergies are and I don’t know any better.

  2. You Might Live With Food Allergies If.. your Reactions to food are common. These reactions range from mild to severe, and may result from your body’s negative response to certain foods or from a true food allergy.

  3. You might be living with food allergies if your allergic child’s baby sister says, “do you have the EpiPen?” every time you go to leave the house.

  4. You might live with food allergies if your kid prefers homemade ketchup to Heinz even though they grew out of their corn allergy. 🙂

  5. You might live with a food allergy if you call ahead to every resturaunt before going to ask about the allergen and cross contact with allergens and then double check again once there.

  6. You might live with a food allergy if leaving your home without your epi-pen would be like leaving home without your eyes glasses that you need to see with. Can’t see without glasses can’t survive without epi-pen.

  7. You might live with food allergies if… you have a week’s supply of Wet Ones & Lysol wipes to pass out at baseball tournaments!! The stress of being in an unfamiliar place with peanuts and peanut shells all around, pb&j sandwiches being consumed, team equipment being shared by all, and the fear of an anaphylaxis reaction can be overwhelming at times for us… we’ve learned to be proactive by communicating with all the parents & kids & taking extra precautions to eliminate potential reactions.

  8. Reblogged this on The Allergy Friendly Vegetarian and commented:
    Fortunately, my son and I are not anaphylactic (well my son does get a funny feeling throat and mouth from eggs), bur there are seriously uncomfortable symptoms we deal with beginning anywhere between 1-12 hours after consuming the culprit food… that lasts for up to two days… SO, I can TOTALLY relate to this! I keep an Epi-pen for our son just in case, so that is definitely on the out the door checklist.

  9. You might live with food allergies if you ask a parent what the allergy warning on the cake mix/icing being serves at a bday party and their reply is “um well I’m not putting peanut butter in the cake.” I’ll just bring him his on special cupcake k. Happened at school as well. Was looking at the ingredient list for a bakery cake being served in the class room & the teacher said “well it’s not a peanut butter cake.” 🙁 I really feel schools should be better informed of these life threatening allergies.

  10. If your local pharmacy asks you where people can get “those EpiPen coupons. Or…If your school nurse has you on speed dial. Or…if the school staff recognize you by the sound of your voice. Or…If packing for a weekend trip involves more planning and luggage than a year at college used to!

  11. You might live with food allergies if you’ve ever decided it’s a whole lot easier (and safer) to stay home instead of going out to eat, or even attempting a weekend getaway (when it takes more time to plan and pack food for your getaway than it does to actually enjoy it).

  12. You might live with food allergies if… every time you get on a plane with your anaphylactic four year old daughter, your greatest fear is not a horrible crash but that the person sitting next to you will have brought on a large bottle of peanuts. You kindly explain and ask them for a favor not to eat the nuts but, still eye their every move as if they boarded with a loaded gun pointed at her. Yeah..this just happened! :/

  13. You might live with food allergies if… You’d rather spend all day every day of summer vacation with your 8-year-old instead of sending them to summer camp!
    You might live with food allergies if… You literally had to apologize to the first mom to ever ask you if your daughter could come over for a play date. She might as well have asked if your daughter could come over to play with knives and fire!

  14. You might live with food allergies if …
    You see the school nurse’s phone number on the caller ID and pick up the phone trying not to panic … and you’re relieved to hear that it’s just that your kid fell and hurt themselves.

  15. You might live with food allergies if you have called a customer service number for a major food company and recognized the representative assigned to your call by voice alone (thankfully, she was one of the good ones!). Sigh…FALCPA… (P.S. You might live with food allergies if you know exactly what I mean without further explanation)

  16. You might live with food allergies if your 3 year old accompanies you to the grocery store and can point out every food that is “safe” and “unsafe” for him.

    1. NicoleAnn,

      I hope you’re well. ‘Just saw your post from January.

      We prep for flights by calling the airline — that has agreed to not serve peanuts — in advance and asking for a note about our son’s allergies to be placed in the flight record. We bring a doctor’s letter to the gate. We introduce ourselves on the ramp and ask if the flight is “still peanut-free.” It is, typically, and we ask for a flight attendant to ask passengers to not eat peanuts on the flight. Our son is allergic to a number of foods but we focus on his severe reaction to peanut proteins when we fly.

      For the most part, this is an effective process and my son has never needed an epi on a flight. (Knock on wood.)

      A couple of years ago, a bureaucrat on the ramp at a major airport refused to allow the flight attendants to make an announcement about our son’s allergies, asking for patrons to not eat their own peanut snacks on the flight. It was astounding to watch him as he said, “We have no policy on peanuts.” I couldn’t tell if “No, we can’t work with you” was actually the airline’s policy. I believe now that the Peanut lobby may have an impact on that airline. The alternative he offered was to take us off the flight. We’d flown several times over 10 years, so I countered with the suggestion to make the announcement myself, and we did that as I walked my 10 year old down the aisle. I have to say that First Class was extremely attentive and nodded their heads that they had heard me, keeping eye contact. I was shaking and trying to not cry from the fear I was feeling, and pressed on with my son in front of me.

      Further down the plane in Coach, my son and I had a varied response and I was worried that the peanuts would appear. However; nobody took them out and the man across the aisle from us leaned in and showed me two bags of “dirty” chips that had peanut oil in them. They had become small pillows, in part due to the air pressure differences, I guess, and he told me that not only could his kids wait to have them, he was burying them deep in his bag so they wouldn’t accidentally pop open into the air.

      Yes, it was a tough flight but not because other passengers didn’t understand a parent who was clearly shaking from fear while trying to protect her child. It is effective to stay as calm as you can in what you say, and let everyone see the emotion on your face. If you have to fly and the airline is unresponsive, keep in mind that you can calmly pull the Mommy ripcord.

  17. You might live with food allergies if you’re less worried about him driving with distracted friends than his first kiss from a distracted or forgetful crush.

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