Why Food Allergies Are Like Volcanoes

I received a compliment last week when a customer mentioned that they appreciated that I tried to focus on the positive food aspects of food allergy in my blogs, tweets and posts because they were tired of hearing the negative so often.  Yippee, a gal after my own heart!

It’s not that I don’t acknowledge the down sides of being a food allergy family.  It’s a fact I’m reminded of every day simply by living the life that is our “normal”.  Everything from reading labels every time I grocery shop to school issues to choosing a place to eat out to figuring out how to adjust recipes or travel or go to a friend’s house… really, the list is quite endless.

And while I still review many food allergy and gluten free magazines, blogs, tweets and facebook posts to keep myself up to date, I try not to dwell on the tragedies after uttering a quick thanks that it wasn’t our family yet knowing full well that it could easily happen to us.  I try very hard not to open by own “fear box”; the one I shove all my deepest, darkest fears into.  It’s what enables me to have our version of normal without wrapping my child in bubble wrap and sealing her in a hermetic chamber.

Last night I was watching a documentary on volcanoes (bear with me here) and it absolutely reminded me of how we food allergic families live our lives.  Those people who live near volcanoes, and there are millions of us, know that they live on top of a sleeping giant.  Yet there is no inkling of when that volcano may erupt.  It may be tomorrow or it may be in millennia.  All that can be done is to watch for the early warning signs, have emergency plans in place if those warnings signs are seen, do practice drills to ensure that the plan can be followed should the need arise and hope that scientists come up with better ways to manage.  In the meantime, these millions of people live their lives as best they can without allowing the fear of eruption to negate the full art of living.

So life threatening food allergies are the volcano that we food allergic families live upon.  While we need to acknowledge and plan for the sleeping giant underneath us, we cannot spend all of our time and energy worrying about it.  So make sure you plans are up to date, you practice label reading, your epi-pens have not expired, the people in contact with the food allergic loved one are fully trained, practice the plan regularly and hope that scientists come up with a cure.  Then go and live.