Illustration by Carmen Szeto
I take my facts real, thanks
Having food allergies means you grow up learning how to dodge the storm of alternative facts and tone-deaf remarks often spoken in your direction. Allergic Living recently published a fantastic article about how to respond to such remarks, read it here. What I want to tackle in this post are the alternative facts. "Facts" that people read about, hear about, and pass on as though they are true when in fact they may be totally made up or based on opinion. The problem is that they get passed around and absorbed into conversation and consciousness, meaning we end up hearing them more often over time. My dream is that Bill Nye will eventually debunk them on his new show.
Your parents did this to you because they didn't feed you certain foods as a kid (strawberries, peanuts, etc.)
Let's start out with the most controversial claim of all. Do people develop food allergies because they didn't eat certain foods from a young age? There are new guidelines in Canada suggesting parents introduce foods containing peanut to their kids early on to prevent the allergy, and this is obviously based on concrete research and is a new strategy to test. What I don't agree with is when people make blanket statements that it's the mom's fault the kid has allergies because they restricted their diet. Personally, I was allergic from the time I was a baby, before solid foods were even introduced. My brother ate peanuts and nuts regularly up until he was 2 years old and suddenly had a reaction. And my mom ate peanuts and nuts until she was in her forties and, you guessed it, she's now allergic too!
It's your mom's fault because she didn't breast feed you/had a bad diet/ate too much of something
MY GAWD leave mothers alone please. A woman has a baby who is then diagnosed with a life-altering condition that requires a whole re-education process and loads of stress, and people immediately blame her for it. As though she put a curse on the kid while still in the womb. People around the world have diverse diets and ways of living. Assuming that one's child is allergic to peanuts because either the mom ate too many peanuts or, conversely, not enough peanuts while pregnant is an unfair assumption.
A little bit of __ won't hurt you
Yes, even a minute amount of an allergen can trigger a serious reaction.
You can build up your tolerance
Not by tasting a bit at home. There are new therapies where minute amounts of an allergen are introduced over time in a controlled environment, but that does not work for everyone. Suggesting that someone take this into their own hands at home is indeed very dangerous.
Cooked ___ is fine because the "bacteria is killed off"
Cooked or uncooked, an allergen can cause a reaction. For some people this may differ, but those exceptions are not representative of all allergic people. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that once the butter is cooked it won't hurt me I would have a small fortune.
How do you respond to alternative facts? Let us know in the comments