According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, there are more than 12 million people suffering from food allergies in the United States today, and 1 in 17 children under the age of 3 have a food allergy.
As more and more food allergies are being diagnosed every day, chances are very high that you and your child know someone who has food allergies or are afflicted with food allergies yourselves. This can make the average play date, birthday party, or packed lunch for school a real challenge.
Here are some tips to help in supporting your family or friends with food allergies:
- Remember that a food allergy is not a lifestyle choice about what to eat and what not to eat — it can be a life-threatening matter.
- Communicate! People with food allergies often feel isolated or misunderstood. Talk with families who have children with food allergies, discover more about their condition, and learn about the foods that they can and can't eat. They often have many tips and tricks that can be useful to those without food allergies too. If someone in your family has food allergies, reach out to others in your community or school who have food allergies as well for support and advice.
- Talk to your children in a positive way about food allergies and the importance of adhering to school policies and parents’ rules about food.
- Learn how to read food labels. All foods are required to list the presence of the eight major food allergens. In addition to learning more about food allergens, label reading will make you more educated about the contents of the foods you are feeding your children.
- Try some allergen-friendly foods. There are many products on the market today that are allergen-friendly and also happen to taste great.
- Don’t be afraid to invite a friend with a food allergy to your birthday party or to a play date. Talk to the parents ahead of time and come up with a plan that works for both of you!
For additional resources related to food allergies, visit the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.