Food Allergy Fact

UP TO 15 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE U.S. HAVE A FOOD ALLERGY

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True Stories - Beth

Joy V.

Food Allergy Mom


My son Lex was diagnosed with a milk allergy when he was four months old. Although we carefully followed the doctor’s directions about what to avoid, he continued to react in situations when we were not able to identify a cause. Worse, he began to have unexplained weight loss even though he was eating normal amounts of food. After further investigation, we learned that he had multiple severe food allergies, including eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and soy. He was even having cross-reactions with related foods like beef. 

We also struggled endlessly to get his allergy-related eczema under control, as it resulted in constant open sores all over his body. He had to wear socks on his arms and legs to cover the sores in order to attend day care, and he ate at a table all by himself on the opposite side of the room from his classmates. People would look at his skin and ask me, “What’s wrong with him?” He eventually outgrew most of his less severe allergies and the eczema improved, but he remains allergic to milk, eggs and peanuts. 

Learning to adjust to our new lifestyle of reading food labels, researching restaurants before eating out, learning new ways to cook, and finding ways to keep Lex from being left out of parties and play dates was a real challenge. However, the hardest part about having food allergies has been the constant need to explain and defend his condition. Lex is nine now, and for the first time he is experiencing teasing and bullying at school because of his allergies. Children have called him a liar, teased him because he can’t eat what they do, taunted and dared him to eat things he is allergic to, and have even gone so far as to put food he is allergic to on his skin to intentionally cause reactions. 

As a result of this, we have registered for the FARE Walk for Food Allergy in Tampa, FL with a team my son named “The Bully Busters.” We have begun an awareness campaign of the same name on Facebook that is aimed at educating people in our school and community about allergies and bullying. We are also planning to do lots of hands-on advocacy and education within our school next year to help the staff and students be more informed about what it is like to live with allergies, what reactions can look like, and how everyone can help prevent them. 

Our best advice for families living with food allergies is to develop a network of people who are informed and supportive. It takes so much pressure off of you as parents to know that there are others who are equipped to keep your child safe. This is an intense experience at best, and no one should go through this experience alone.

Learn more about how you can address and prevent food allergy bullying and the laws that protect those with food allergies from harassment.