Food Allergy Bullying
Food allergy bullying is a growing issue across the country; people who have food allergies are a target. Bullies don't understand the seriousness of food allergies. They think it is funny or fake and may harass those with food allergies by touching them with food they are allergic to. About 79 percent of children with food allergies reported that they have been bullied because of their food allergies.
Food allergies are real and serious.
If people only knew how serious and deadly food allergies are, perhaps the number of children who are bullied because of their food allergies would decrease. Many teens and children believe that food allergies are an excuse to be picky, or a way to gain attention. I have seen so many websites and articles arguing that people lie about food allergies, and that they are fake. Authors of these articles state that food allergies never existed when they were a kid, so why are there so many people diagnosed with food allergies now? The reason for that, they say, is because many people are trying to lose weight, so they either have an eating disorder or they are making up a false reason to avoid food they dislike.
"In order to justify their new lifestyle, many are claiming that they have a gluten allergy (or even allergies to dairy, sugar or eggs) so they can eliminate entire food groups from their diet."
This is a quote from an article from Neogen Blog, the website for food and animal safety. Many mothers complain about how their daughter or son can't bring in a specific food to school because of a child in their class who claims to have a food allergy. Because there are so many news articles and websites stating that food allergies aren't real or serious, many readers doubt the reality of food allergies and this is a big problem in the food allergy community.
How do you communicate the seriousness of food allergies?
This is a very hard question to answer because there are so many articles stating that food allergies are fake and not real. For those who have food allergies and are having a difficult time communicating the seriousness of your allergies, try finding friends who have an open mind and will listen. If they are truly your friends, they will understand what you are going through and know that food allergies are not fake. You can also show them some of the recent tragic allergy news articles describing how lives were lost because of anaphylaxis. How can food allergies be fake when there are so deaths? Show them facts and information from credible sources such as FAACT or FARE or even my page, Learn, a page where those who are not familiar with food allergies learn more about it and what it is. Explain anaphylaxis to friends and the need for epinephrine. I know that many of these tactics are 'harsh' and powerful but it will make people realize how serious food allergies are. I saw a documentary that really stuck with me. It was called “An Emerging Epidemic: Food Allergies in America”. It was narrated by Steve Carrell who told the stories of people who live with life-threatening allergies. This film features allergy experts who discuss the science of this disease.
“We are proud to partner with the Discovery Channel to produce this important documentary,” said John Lehr, CEO of FARE, America’s leading food allergy organization. “Our hope is that this program will increase awareness of food allergy as a serious and growing public health issue, and educate viewers about the potentially life-threatening nature of the disease.”
Below is the link to this documentary and other websites that communicate the message that food allergies are real and life-threatening.
(An Emerging Epidemic: Food Allergies in America) : https://vimeo.com/73910827
(Remembering Those We Have Lost to Food Allergies) : http://nonutsmomsgroup.weebly.com/blog