Skip to main content

Re-Branding Food Allergies

So Monday's post got off into the absurd...probably because I got depressed while writing it. It started out as a serious post about polarizing issues and how they relate to food allergies, and veered into science fiction.

It's easier to talk about ray guns than solutions. I did do a little reading about de-polarizing hot topics, just to see what the experts say. All of them tend to start with the same point:

Acknowledge the concerns of the other
side and admit where they are right

Hmm....

It's pretty easy to sum up the thing that the disapproving, polarized 50% say about the food allergy community:

"Most of them make up allergies"

This is where things get hot, and where I really earn my bitch title because...for the most part...I agree.

I am frankly tired of making the rounds of the chat boards and seeing mothers say things like "my Susie gets a stomach ache and the sniffles every time she drinks milk. How do I get a ban at my school?" And I'm tired of reading the laundry lists of allergies diagnosed by test only, handed to the mother who eliminates milk, soy, peanut, eggs, wheat, corn and rice without a blink.

One interesting thing I've realized about my blog: because I don't make money, I really can say whatever I want. Too many allergy magazines and chat boards have an ulterior motive: separate the frightened from their dollars, either through readership or direct product purchases. That means they have no interest in telling people their children really don't have food allergies. The more the merrier, and often the moms who are the most over the top are also the most likely to want all the bells and whistles (the magazine subscription, the medication bracelet) that come with a real diagnosis. 

Which brings me to re-brandingRe-branding is a wonderful strategy, employed by businesses that get into hot water. (The Enron name has too much baggage? Just rename it AEI!).  

My proposal is that we simply re-brand food allergies. Too many people have glommed on to the term to the point that it's the object of ridicule. 

Where before I might have said "my son has food allergies", I need to start saying something different from now on, like:

"My son has an immune disorder" 

or 

"My son has protein-induced anaphylaxis"

or 

"My son has a hyperimmune reaction that
causes swelling and wheezing"

Any of those work for you? I like the last one a lot because it's not as easy to appropriate by the moms who really do make this stuff up. Swelling and wheezing are a lot harder to fake than sniffles and phantom stomach pain.

I understand why food allergies are polarizing. A lot of people are asking a great deal of others (food bans, restricted activities, etc.) without any proof that their allergy is serious...or even real

The Emperors are clearly out there.

I honestly think the only hope we have of ever being taken seriously depends on dealing with the 23% of the population who believe they have a food allergy but who DON'T. 

Perhaps component testing will finally provide a way to tell people they're not wearing any clothes. 

Follow me on Facebook or Twitter  

Popular posts from this blog

Best Food Allergy Tweets/Posts From 2013 ACAAI Meeting

Sorry, guys...I've been very busy the last couple of weeks, but just over a week ago one of the largest allergy and asthma conferences, the annual American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, was tweeting its brains out.

Here were the tweets and (virtual) presentations I thought were most interesting:

ACE inhibitors are often used to treat high blood pressure. I believe Lisinopril was the one specifically mentioned. This goes hand in hand with the idea that older patients, especially men, can see changes in the severity of their allergic reactions as they age.

Here's an answer on the question many of us asked about component testing. Just as with RAST, the number itself doesn't matter; just the positive result.

Gross! But yes, give your kids the bobber after the dog/ brother/ mailman licked it.

Conversely, tree-nut-allergic individuals have a 30% incidence of concurrent peanut allergy. 
So stop blaming yourselves, FA mommies! I've said this consistently - Mother Natur…

Taking The High Road With Food Allergies (Sometimes)

I was getting all ready to write a post about how grateful I am. You know...one of those count-down-to-Thanksgiving posts where I list all the people or things that have helped me along the way.

And I am grateful. Really. Having virtual friends who have traveled this same food-allergy road is a wonderful gift. I can name so many times when my panic and frustration were alleviated by someone I've never even met in real life, but who took the time to give me a tip, or to console me.

But frankly, my lovely gratitude post went out the window when I received this email from a relative:

What can we bring to share? I have some ideas: Sweet Potatoes glazed with Chutney and Ginger, Green beans with Dijon and Caper sauce, Creamed Green beans with Dill sauce, or whatever you request.   I am aware of [FAB's son] dietary restriction.

My son is allergic to beans. We avoid all beans. Even green beans. The doctor was surprised by this, as green beans are the least allergenic of the bean family, b…

Beans, Beans and More (or Less) Allergenic Beans!

We have a little good news this week: my son passed a home bean challenge for both pinto and cannellini (white) beans last night. Hooray!

At our last allergist visit, they ran the numbers on a number of varieties of beans and many were Class 0, with values like 0.68. My son's doctor thought it was reasonable to try these at home.

Going to stop for a moment and interject: DON'T DO THIS WITHOUT YOUR DOCTOR'S DIRECTION. A lot of things go into whether home challenges are a good idea for your child: how serious the allergen typically is, how far the hospital, how experienced the parents are with recognizing reactions. Many doctors are not comfortable with this at all. But, in our case, it makes sense to do some challenges at home because my son tests slightly allergic to dozens of foods.

He has avoided all beans since around age five, when he started developing new allergies. First it was tuna. Then cashews. Then (to our great surprise), he suddenly became allergic to garbonzo be…