As my 5 year old child makes new social connections, he’s beginning to be more and more aware of how he is different from the other children when it comes to food allergies. And while he often takes these differences in stride, he doesn’t like to feel singled out or “forced” to talk about them.

Today at a play area, another child asked about the medical bracelet. He said, “I have food allergies.” The new friend asked, “what are you allergic to?” to which he replied, “I’m allergic to a lot of things but I don’t want to talk about it” and then quickly changed the subject. They kept playing and had fun.

And I was proud. You see, about a month ago, this child told me he didn’t like how the other kids were talking about his food allergies “too much” at preschool. He’d much rather talk about fun stuff, like animals and sports and coloring. And so I told him that it was his decision when to talk about it – and empowered him to set some boundaries, letting him know it’s OK to not get into a big conversation every time someone asks.

It’s a common question – people often ask what he’s allergic to… and the answer is long: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, shellfish and all melons. It’s a mouthful alright – and usually it’s followed by some statement of either shock or sympathy – neither one of which defines or celebrates his life. I totally understand why he doesn’t want to go there every darn time someone asks.

Of course he knows there are times we need to talk about food allergies, such as with doctors, teachers and other adults taking care of him. And it’s good for our friends to know we have food allergies so they can help us stay safe. But there’s a time and a place for everything, and knowing he has a choice in the matter makes all the difference between food allergies defining him, versus him defining their role in his life. He is more than just his food allergies. So, so much more.


You can find more of my food allergy posts, tips & recipes on my Food Allergy page. I’d also love to connect with you on my Marketing Mama facebook page and twitter. This post, and all posts on this blog, are written from my experiences as a parent of a child with food allergies. I am not a medical expert and encourage you to consult with a doctor on your personal medical situation.

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2 Responses to “reflection :: not defined by food allergies”

  1. Shawn "Smith" Peirce says:

    I had a similar problem, though not food allergies, when I was young. I was allergic to most grasses, trees, weeds, molds, mildews, pollens, some animal dander, and a few other assorted things.

    In other words, a list too long to mention most of the time. When I had to explain it, just like your child, I learned to dislike it too.

    What did I do? Nearly the same thing your child did. I took my medications, and changed the subject, unless I wanted to talk about it.

    Raising your kids? You’re doing it right, Missy – at least, IMO. Keep up the great mama work.

  2. I absolutely *heart* this post….and your amazing child! His positive attitude reminds me so much of my son. He prefers to be known as the guy who likes Legos and Star Wars, and doesn’t let his food allergies define him.



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