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On the Bright Side: The Joyful Parts about Having a Food Allergy

No one wants to find out they have a food allergy. It makes a lot of things like eating, socializing, and attending school much more difficult.  While there isn’t a person I know who would choose to have a food allergy, there are some benefits to think about. I’ve created my top five list of things that make having a food allergy a little bit better.

1. Instant conversation

Food allergies fall in the category of interesting and not sensitive enough to avoid asking about. When someone finds out about my allergy to tree nuts, they want to hear which nuts I am allergic to, how I figured out I had an allergy, and if I’ve ever had a severe reaction. I am always happy to talk about it because the more people who know about how common food allergies are, the better.

2. Priority boarding

I can’t speak for every airline, but the ones I usually use, JetBlue and Delta, are amazing about being nut allergy aware! They can never guarantee that people aren’t eating nuts around you, but they are always happy to let you on board early in order to wipe down your seats and tray table. Early boarding to get in a little “wipe-down” time is definitely not a bad thing!

3. “Let me make a fresh one for you!”

This has happened to me on a number of occasions. I am at a restaurant, coffee shop, or bakery and ask if an item is nut free. The server goes to ask the cook or manager. Suddenly, the chef or manager appears and says that they are nut free, but just to be sure, “Why don’t we make a fresh cake/salad/biscotti for you?” Am I going to turn down a fresh-baked good and assurance that my food isn’t contaminated? I am certainly not.

4. Greater awareness

Being diagnosed with a food allergy has opened my eyes to a whole new world of nutritional awareness. When I started reading labels to make sure that my food didn’t contain tree nuts, I began to take a closer look at the nutrition of many of the foods I eat. A scan of the ingredients of my favorite snacks and desserts revealed that many of them are nut free but not harmless. Consuming a walnut could be immediately life threatening for me; however, eating foods on a daily basis that contain 150% of my daily sodium could also have a negative impact on my body in the future.  My allergy showed me that I should not only be aware of what I am eating to avoid certain tree nuts, but I should also be aware of my overall dietary health.

5. Meeting new friends

When I was diagnosed at age nine with my nut allergies (I developed my allergy later in childhood than most people), I wasn’t aware how pervasive food allergies are. I wouldn’t wish my allergy on anyone, but it’s really nice to know that there are other people who have the same concerns as me. I really look forward to the FARE TAG meetings; it’s inspiring to know that we are all working together for the common goal of creating awareness and ultimately eradicating food allergies.


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