Be Kind to Your Food Allergy Friends!

Everything in my life was easy and carefree until one fateful day in the fifth grade I ate a pine nut.

First of all, what kid eats nuts? Back in the early 2000s, Kind bars weren't the trendy thing for school lunches. Rather, gold fish, 100 calorie snack packs, and mandarin oranges filled my lunch box. I didn't really even know nuts existed! So, when my parents and I visited family friends for a homemade dinner, I didn't think to be concerned about the ingredients in my pasta. They served tortellini with pesto sauced drizzled on top, which as basil's #1 fan, I gobbled up in seconds. But all of a sudden, my throat started to get itchy and I felt sick to my stomach. After dry-heaving (sorry TMI!) for a half hour, my mom realized this wasn't just a plot to get out of a boring dinner with old people and that I was having some sort of serious medical problem.

After that night, I realized nuts were a thing people actually ate, not just squirrels, and became scared to eat. Fast forward 10 years and things are still the same. Every time I encounter food, I have to ask about the ingredients and it's a whole big deal that I wish I could avoid. And now, because nut-based foods like almond flour, hazelnut chocolate spread, and cashew cheese are popular, I get a tight feeling in my throat before taking a bite of anything. It's a scary world out there for people with nut allergies!

For years and years, I thought I had some incurable curse that was ruining my life. To be honest, it does suck a lot. I mean, I have to carry around two huge EpiPens, I can't eat a lot of fun things, I have to research restaurant menus before we leave the house, and when I eat out my food can be kind of bland.

Cacio e Pepe (without nuts!!)

Having a food allergy is so much work, it's like a full time job. Can I get paid for this??? It's constantly threatening my wellbeing and I am terrified that one wrong move, like eating a cookie, will get me stabbed with my EpiPen. So, the moral of this story is, please be kind to your food allergy friends. I am so tired of people joking about my allergies, making me self conscious about my boring food choices, and telling me about false, homeopathic "cures." Joking about food allergies is never funny, because it is terrifying and life threatening. If you have a friend with a food allergy, listen to their concerns and lend them a hand! And if you don't, that's just nutty!

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