I have been keenly aware lately of the rise in kids food allergies and issues. It is quite commonplace in the hoard of roving kids that move through our house to have peanut, wheat, and dairy allergies. Now, it does not outweigh the 14 year olds who are shoving fist-fulls of dry breakfast cereal in their mouths, munching a shameless “Hello Mrs Fitz” as they have their arm elbow deep in what used to be my breakfast. Still, when did the food allergy epidemic happen?
I have always been allergic to milk, but I was definitely an oddity. I remembered that none of my teachers really believed me, and would try to force those nasty little cartons on me during the milk break in elementary school. Now, not only has the milk break gone the way of the telephone booth, but there are so many kids in elementary with food allergies that more drastic measures are now commonplace in our community. We receive the note every year that bans peanut products at school - including our household staple of peanut butter. In recent years all birthday treats have also been banned. It just became too hard for the school to manage the safety issues for the kids who have extreme reactions.
At first I was not very sympathetic, and even peeved that hundreds of us had to adapt our lunch packing routines for a few kids. But once I met a few moms who try to manage the day to day effort of keeping their kids fed an out of the ER, I softened my stance. My son has also had issues with stomach aches off an on for years. For cross country, he stopped consuming all dairy and it seemed to clear up. When he tried to resume cheese, ice cream etc, his body through an out-right fit. We were pretty clear that he, too was lactose intolerant.
So here’s my queston – WHY? Have we changed the foods and food production so they affect us differently? Or has there always been a high percentage of kids with food alergies and we are just better at identifying them now? I am on a quest to find out. On a related note did tell my tween daughter that she needs to watch her food choices because you are what you eat. The reply was “Really? because I don’t remember eating a bowl of sexy beast this morning?” Groan. I’ll continue my research on my own.