Viewing My Food Allergies in a Positive Light
"It’s quite easy to talk about how lousy they are, but at this point, my food allergies are a part of who I am, and to remove them would be to remove a part of my identity and something that has brought me close to some of the most important people in my life."
Guest post by Teen Advisory Group (TAG) member Ramsey Makan
I have a lot of food allergies - all of the top eight, excluding gluten, plus a bunch of legumes including lentil, chickpea, and some beans. With how many allergies I have, it’s quite easy for me to complain about how they’ve afflicted my life. If I tried, I could probably make a list of grievances as long as the one in the Declaration of Independence.
But the problem is that sometimes, it can be difficult to remember just how great my life is because of my food allergies, and how much I’ve benefited from having them. That’s what motivated me to take some time, put myself in the “glass-half-full” mindset, and write about how my allergies have benefited me.
Here’s an easy one: they’ve made me discover so many incredible allergy-friendly brands. A few favorites I definitely want to mention are Enjoy Life, So Delicious, and Cherrybrook Kitchen. These brands have provided me with countless breakfasts, snacks, and desserts for my entire life and I couldn’t be more grateful for them. However, despite my favorite allergy-friendly brands being more sweet-oriented, I do want to thank my allergies for how they’ve made me healthier. Sure, I’ve never been able to eat scrambled eggs or probiotic-rich yogurt, but I don’t think I’m missing out on that much. It’s mostly because I’ve been a lot less susceptible to tasty, sugary items throughout my whole life. For instance, it’s impossible for me to get tricked by the smells of the bakery section of a supermarket or to consume three slices of cake at a friend’s birthday party, and I can honestly thank my food allergies for that.
My allergies have also made me a significantly more responsible person. I’ve self-carried my Auvi-Q epinephrine injectors for well over five years now and take them everywhere. I’ve also become a lot more confident and independent when it comes to dealing with my food allergies, whether it be letting teachers know I can't participate in a food-based activity or working with a friend to see what they can do to help me be more comfortable at a party of theirs. I’ve especially become more responsible since my family moved to Orlando three years ago, as we are now able to eat in Walt Disney World restaurants on special occasions. I’ve gotten enough practice talking to these incredible chefs and ordering for myself, to the point where I was recently able to order food there without my parents’ supervision for the first time.
And last, but certainly not least (in fact, I’d argue most), are the relationships I’ve developed and the people I’ve met because of my food allergies. It started with the folks I met at the peanut-free table in elementary school becoming my best friends for my entire childhood. My allergies also led me to the wonderful people I’ve met through FARE and TAG (Teen Advisory Group) as well, namely the other teens around the U.S. just like me who each have inspiring stories of their own. These are some of the coolest and hardest-working people I know, and I don’t think I ever would have met them if it wasn’t for this problem with my immune system.
This wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention my mom as well. Both of my parents have devoted a ton of time to researching and helping me navigate my food allergies and my mom has even become a better and more creative chef because of me. I know that my relationship with her is even stronger because of my allergies and I know that both my mom and dad are preparing me well to live on my own in college.
So yes, I was born with all these food allergies. (Even more, actually; I’ve been fortunate enough to outgrow some.) It was just the luck of the draw. Sometimes I dream about having the choice to magically get rid of all my allergies, and even though there’s a big part of me that wants to say yes, the rest of me starts thinking. Because again, it’s quite easy to talk about how lousy they are, but at this point, my food allergies are a part of who I am, and to remove them would be to remove a part of my identity and something that has brought me close to some of the most important people in my life.
All I’m saying is that it deserves some serious thought. And I hope that others with food allergies think about theirs in a positive light every now and then as well.
While FARE does not endorse products, we support and appreciate enterprises and organizations that are committed to serving the food allergy community.