” I can’t eat or be near that!”

By S. Standish

I have 5 people in my immediate family, 3 have severe food allergies to nuts. Its a hard thing to grasp if you don’t live with someone that carries an EpiPen on them at all times, just in case! Statistically speaking in North American, around 2 kids per classroom will have a food allergy. If you have a food allergy, it means that eating some foods can make you sick. They occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to substances in food you have eaten, triggering a reaction. Food allergies are more common in young children than in adults. I had a student who had an air-borne illness to nuts…..that means that he ate in a closed room during lunch (high school). Immediate hives and trouble breathing in small spaces.

From the Health Canada Website: “Food allergies are sensitivities caused by a reaction of the body’s immune system to specific proteins in a food. According to a recent publication, approximately 7% of Canadians self-report a food allergy. However, fewer are likely to have a physician-diagnosed food allergy, which are estimated at prevalence levels up to 5-6% for young children and 3-4% for adults in westernized countries.”

Not all children who react to a specific food have an allergy. They may have something else, a food intolerance. Examples are milk (lactose) intolerance, gluten (wheat) intolerance, sulfite sensitivity or dye (red is bad for a lot of kids) sensitivity. Finding out what causes a reaction and staying away from these foods is the best way to avoid a bad response.

Common Food Allergies:
1. Eggs
2. Peanuts
3. Sesame
4. Milk
5. Soy
6. Seafood
7. Treenuts
8. Wheat
9. Sulphites
10. Mustard

There has been an increase in the prevalence of food allergies. Researchers are trying to figure out the reasons for the increase in food allergies. Children with really bad allergies can go into anaphylactic shock, a severe reaction marked by swelling of the throat and tongue, among other symptoms. The number one priority is keep these kids safe. We can’t make a judgement about what might be okay with a person (especially a young one) without knowing how severe (extreme illness to death) their allergy could be.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction may involve the skin of the allergic person, the digestive tract, the cardiovascular system and their breathing system. Sometimes allergy symptoms are mild. Other times they can be severe. Reactions can present in one or more of the following ways:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing
  • Hives – Have seen lots of these with my little ones.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach Cramps
  • A continuing cough
  • Shock
  • Tight throat
  • Swelling of the tongue, which may affect the ability to talk or breathe
  • Weak pulse
  • Pale or blue colouring of your skin
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • Anaphylaxis (can be life-threatening)

Children with these extreme allergies need to keep an EpiPen (an epinephrine shot) available in case they accidentally eat/touch the food item they’re allergic to and go into anaphylactic shock. Epinephrine works to counteract swelling and other symptoms related to anaphylaxis, therefore these kids need to have an EpiPen in their vicinity at all times.

People allergic to a specific food may also potentially have a reaction to related foods. A person allergic to one tree nut may be cross-reactive to others. Therefore if someone is allergic to peanuts (a legume) they still might be allergic to nuts too.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do people with food allergies have to do to take care of themselves?
  2. At school a girl is allergic to eggs, and she feels left out at the school party because she can’t eat the cake. What could you do or say to make the girl feel better?
  3. Can food allergies be prevented?
  4. Are there any treatments for food allergies?


Food Allergy Canada

Food Allergy Social Media Activity – #PaintItTeal Movement!!
Paint one of your fingernails teal to show your support for food allergy awareness and education! It’s a great conversation starter.
Be sure to share your pictures on social media with the tag #allergyaware!

One thought on “” I can’t eat or be near that!”

  1. 1) Stay away from the food that they’re allergic to and carry an epi pen

    2) You could be friendly and hug her. Tell her that there are other treats that she can eat

    3) No

    4) Epi pens


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