This is my son, Nathaniel.
He doesn’t enjoy a Full Strength daily like his dad has.
He doesn’t eat eggs for breakfast or enjoy a glass of dairy milk for his growing bones.
He’s never had a PBJ sandwich nor a Reeses peanut butter cup, a Hershey’s kiss, or anything that I knew as candy as a kid.
In fact, he doesn’t eat a lot of things most kids eat.
You see, Nathaniel is one of 3 million kids in the US that (
suffer from) live with severe and life threatening food allergies. He’s allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, sesame, coconut, hazelnut and we used to think raspberries and I don’t even recall why. But not raspberries. 🙂
At least three million American children suffer from a food or digestive allergy, and the problem is growing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 1997 and 2007, the figure rose 18 percent.
Yes, like many parents we found out the “hard way.” Sparing you the traumatic details, we’ve had some very scary times especially when he was a baby.
Angie and I feel we’ve been blessed with this opportunity to learn, and grow and we like to believe Nathaniel came to us because we could provide a great, healthy place where he can thrive. Fact is he eats better and more freely than most kids his age. He has a great appetite too.
He has cake at birthday parties and ice cream (from rice, or almond) just like the other kids. His amazing mother devotes herself to making sure he never has to be without, the odd-kid out. Angie has perfected the art of baking allergy free cakes and treats that are so amazingly delectable that the non-allergy kids don’t even notice.
If anyone ever wonders why we eat at Tokyo Joes so often, well, first, it’s delicious, healthy food. But it’s also a place where they do a masterful job of handling our allergies. Every time we step into a restaurant we are putting life at risk. So, as you would, we take it very seriously–as does Joe’s. They are what I call, “Food Allergy Friendly.” They got it handled.
That said, every party, every sleep-over, every time we leave him somewhere is an event that requires preparation and planning. Angie bakes cupcakes in advance. We pack food or plan deliveries. We have to get special “safe” pizza made and deliver it mid-party or take buns we know are safe, pack our own bread. Whatever. It’s all part of the deal. That’s all.
And should anyone ever give us the, “Oh, I’m sorry. That seems so hard,” We offer, “no, it’s an “inconvenience.” There are some real health challenged children in this world and we…We have an inconvenience.” And that’s a real blessing we are reminded of every day.
Nathaniel doesn’t want anyone feeling sorry for him either. There’s no reason. In fact, in his life is a lesson for most everyone else—a truth that many people miss about food, and emotional attachment.
What Food Should You Give Up?
One of the great lessons in all this life has been getting much clearer on food and our deep attachment to it. I hear so many people in the “dieting” realm agonizing about the loss of sweets, or the sacrifice of giving up nightly wine or whatever it is; and I think… Really?
How is that story and it’s attached emotion helping you or is it weakening you?
Learn from a boy with allergies and his simple wisdom: The foods he is allergic—and it’s a lot—he doesn’t eat.
Let me say that one more time: We just don’t eat them. We don’t have an energy about it. We don’t have to suffer for it. We just don’t eat them.
I say, “We,” because it’s a collective decision and experience. It impacts us all. Even if Nathaniel were great with his allergies, if we showed sadness or drama about it, it would deeply affect him.
What if the foods that made you fat, that robbed your energy, that you know aren’t getting you any better, you just stopped eating? And rather than make some loss about it you just chose to accept that they are killing you.
Think about it this way; Nathaniel has a drop of milk and he’s at least in the hospital, drugged up, if not a lot worse. So, we don’t eat it.
What if you took this wisdom for yourself and just stopped? Don’t eat it. Don’t do it. And don’t have drama about it.
Take one food or category and just don’t eat it. Don’t’ waste your time, energy and life agonizing over it. You just don’t. And that is it. Drop the energy, drop the story, drop the loss, drop the pain and embrace everything else out there.
This isn’t about loss, it’s about life. In our case, it’s literally life and death but we’d be kidding ourselves to pretend it’s not the same for many others out there. The “stuff” you eat may not kill you today but one day it’ll be that day.
It’s about choosing life now and how.
A Sad, Sad Reminder
This is Cameron. A perfectly normal, healthy 19 year old except he had an allergy to peanuts. And he knew all that right things but knowing isn’t always perfect.
As a reminder of how threatening food allergies are (and we do need this reminder now and then) here’s a boy, a little older than Nathaniel, who was going on about his life in a normal 19 year old boy way, only to be struck down by a cookie.
This is a reminder that no matter how great things are, with allergies you can be in trouble in an instant. You can’t not take a day off—you don’t get a “free day.”
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