Secretsofmommyhood

Posts Tagged ‘Nut allergy

Dear fellow blogger,

Yesterday I read your post about how you think peanut free schools are not ok. As the parent of a child with a life threatening nut allergy, your article did not sit well with me. After reading through it, I came to a conclusion: you have not been educated on the severity of nut allergies and the importance of nut free schools.

I’m here to help you understand more about nut allergies and why schools SHOULD BE nut free. And, by the way, it’s not just for peanut allergies. It’s for those with tree nut allergies as well.

Let’s go over your 12 reasons of why you believe peanut free schools are not ok…

1)Life, whether you like it or not, is about adaptation and survival...If your child is different, as their parent, it is your duty to teach them how to adapt and survive to life as it is.It is not society’s responsibility to adapt to your child. Believe it or not, I do teach my child to “adapt and survive” because I need to; HIS LIFE IS AT STAKE. This isn’t just a silly little allergy where he may develop a couple of hives. He could stop breathing and die. So, yes, I ask other people (‘society’) to not have nuts around him because even the tiniest little crumb could cause him to go into anaphylaxis.

2)If a child has cancer or diabetes, you the parent teach your child how to handle their health challenge responsibly..But when it comes down to it, not a single other child in that school is responsible for your child’s health. Nor is their parent. I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Comparing food allergies to cancer and diabetes? COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Cancer and Diabetes are horrible and I sympathize with the parents of a child with those conditions. Yes, their children can die from those conditions just like mine could from his food allergy. However, a single bite of a piece of food isn’t going to immediately put their life at risk like it does for children with food allergies. And, I’m not asking the other children and parents be responsible for my child’s health. Obviously my child and I are responsible for that. But, this is not just a “health” issue; it’s a life and death situation for my child.

3)As a parent of non-peanut allergy kids, I have just as much right, and I mean every single right, to feed my children healthy peanut proteins, for every meal, if they will eat it, if I so choose…It is not disrespectful as a fit and healthy parent, to feed my child peanut foods in their lunches and/or snacks…Do you see what I am saying? Our children are equal. As parents we each have equal right to feed our children what we believe is the right food for our children…Districts: Our schools in this country are about equality – that means across the board. You can’t take away from the majority (and at their expense) to give to a few. First, I understand you wanting to feed your children healthy foods that will sustain them throughout the day and give them energy. I feel the same way. However, there are many other protein packed foods you can give your child that are nut free. Second, this is not about equality. It’s not about saying one child has more rights than another. You want to talk about equality though? Ok. Is it right that my child be forced to sit at a “special” lunch table away from all of his friends because he has a food allergy and the school is not nut free? Is it fair that he can’t eat special treats brought into the classroom by parents for birthday parties and celebrations because they contain nuts? Is that equality? No, it’s not. So, please don’t make this an equality issue because that can go both ways.

4)If a picky child will eat peanut butter on English muffins for breakfast, and PB & J for lunch with peanut butter on celery and down only trail mix with nuts in it, logically, for this child’s parent, including peanut foods isn’t an option – it’s a must…When it comes to peanut free schools and this picky eater, this means the district is placing more value on the peanut allergy child’s health and education than that of the picky eater. I completely understand having a child who is a picky eater. I have one of my own. But, there are alternatives to peanut butter that taste just as good. In fact, if you don’t tell your child it’s not peanut butter, they may not even notice the difference. My son sure doesn’t notice. Here are some peanut butter alternatives for you: Sunbutter, Wowbutter, and Soy butter. As for statement about the district placing more value on the peanut allergy child’s health and education than that of the picky eater, this has nothing to do with their education. I’m not even sure why you brought that up. Second, you make it seem as if this is a healthy living life choice. It’s not. It’s an allergy that the child could die from. I can’t stress that enough.

5)In case of Point #2, what if my child’s physician said to pack every meal and snack with as much healthy protein as possible because that is what my child needs…Should my child in need of these healthy proteins go without and have their health suffer because your child’s body can’t handle peanuts? Should my child have to consume more types of other proteins to meet their dietary needs to accommodate your child’s dietary needs…Whose health is more important? There are plenty of other protein packed foods out there that your child could eat. Yes, I know you expressed your concern about too much dairy, but you don’t have to only give them dairy or nuts to get protein. Here are some nut free protein packed foods for you: Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, swiss cheese, eggs, chicken breast, turkey breast, tuna, many kinds of beans, bean chips, green peas, protein shakes/smoothies, quinoa. There are many foods on this list you could pack your child for lunch. And I assure you, your child’s health won’t suffer from having one meal free of protein or from having protein in a different form than nuts. As for your statement about whose health is more important, this is not a competition. If it was though, I’m afraid I’d have to say my child’s health was because, again, HIS LIFE IS AT STAKE. Your child will not die from not eating protein at lunch, whereas, my child could die from being exposed to and ingesting nuts.

6)Kids have other food allergies too..If schools are going to eliminate peanuts, shouldn’t they have to eliminate eggs, dairy, strawberries and gluten too? Yes, kids do have other food allergies and these allergies can be life threatening as well. Honestly, I’m not sure why nut allergies are the ones more highly picked than the others. All children’s allergies are important. But, unfortunately, schools can’t ban all foods, like you said. I do know though that some allergies can be so severe that some children (and adults) can have an allergic reaction just from being in the same room as someone eating the food or inhaling it. And allergies can also be severe enough that if someone who has been eating an allergen product touches a child with that allergy, the oils can transfer to the skin and the child can have an allergic reaction just from being touched.

7)If your child has a limitation that is severe enough that it will impose high risk upon their health, or their learning, or upon that of others, the child should be homeschooled…Not a single other student should be accommodating for another child’s inability to meet basic expectations and requirements of being in a public, social environmentNo normal, healthy child should ever have to lower their bar of standards to accommodate another child’s inability to meet a ‘basic set bar of expectation.’…No normal, healthy child should ever have to remove from their diet foods that are healthy and beneficial to their growth and well-being simply because another child’s body cannot handle a specific food…No child (or adult for that matter) should ever have adults in position of leadership and high influence telling them that they may not have or do something that is healthy and beneficial to their growth, learning and well-being because they MUST accommodate for another child’s lack of health and well-being. In point #3 you talk about equality. Tell me, is there equality in a child having to be homeschooled instead of being able to attend public school just because they have a food allergy? You talk about “normal” students rights but forget that the children with food allergies have rights too. Homeschooling is a wonderful thing but it is not for everyone. Parents can’t just change their lifestyle, quit their jobs and stay home to homeschool their child because their child has a food allergy. It’s just not feasible. Homeschooling makes sense for some families but not for everyone. This is not the solution for children with food allergies.

You mention “No normal, healthy child should ever have to lower their bar of standards to accommodate another child’s inability to meet a ‘basic set bar of expectation.’” No one is talking about lowering a bar of standards here. It’s not about the child’s educational needs; it’s about their life. Restraining from eating specific foods at school does not lower the standards of the school.

You also say, “No normal, healthy child should ever have to remove from their diet foods that are healthy and beneficial to their growth and well-being simply because another child’s body cannot handle a specific food.” You speak as if you are being asked to remove peanuts from your child’s diet completely. That is not the case. It is for one meal a day and maybe a snack. That is it. You are free to provide your child with these foods outside of school all you want. No restrictions there.

Lastly, you say, “.. they MUST accommodate for another child’s lack of health and well-being.” May I remind you again, a food allergy is NOT A CHOICE. We are not choosing to eliminate these foods from our children’s diets because we don’t think they are healthy. It is because the food could cause a horrible allergic reaction, which could land them in the hospital and possibly cause death. It is not a “lack of health and well-being” as you claim.

 8) As parents we are the ones responsible for our children…While being part of a good community means we keep an eye out on our children’s friends and our neighbor’s, we are not responsible for them, or their ability to adapt, survive and thrive in life. Food allergy parents are not asking other parents to be responsible for our children. We are asking you to try and understand what our child(ren) go through and why it is important to keep certain foods away from our child(ren). We are also asking you to help create a safe environment for our children to be in; an environment where they can also be included in class activities and not excluded because they can’t eat certain foods. My son came home from school crying one day because they had a class party with candy and he couldn’t eat any of it because it contained nuts. You speak about being fair. Is that fair to my child? No, it’s not. So, this is what we are asking for: We are asking for a safe and inclusive environment for our children. We are not asking you to be responsible for our child.

9)…And even though said child eats nonstop (and healthily too), by school age they are still in a very low percentile for weight. This child has a special health need. Does that mean the school has to add whip cream to every food item for every child? No.How about those big kids who are growing fast and could eat three whole pizzas in a day and still be hungry? Peanuts, granola bars and peanut butter are so healthy for these kids to eat. Especially the ones who are athletes. Why does their health have to suffer because one or two kids can’t handle peanuts? That is not fair. My son not only has food allergies and asthma, he is also very small for his age and only in the 5th percentile for weight. So, as you mentioned, we try to give him foods that are healthy and will help him grow. BUT, I don’t consider this a special health need. Nor do I consider a bigger child “who could eat three whole pizzas in one day and still be hungry” a special health need. This is just how children grow. Yes, those children could use extra protein in their diet.  But, as I mentioned above, not having nuts in ONE MEAL in their day isn’t going to hinder their growth or health. And, again, there are plenty of other protein packed foods that they can eat for lunch to fill this need. And, it’s not just “one or two kids.” More and more children are developing food allergies now than ever before.

10 Athletes in high school are always hungry. Granola bars or trail mix with nuts are an excellent way for an athlete to fill their stomach with a healthy and energizing snack while dashing from one end of the school to the other between classes…If our athletes are going to perform well (in which sporting events bring in good money for many schools), they need to be able to eat what they need to when they need to. Peanut foods at lunchtime are great for fueling up for after school practice or while recovering from last night’s game (breakfast).                    I agree that athletes do need protein rich foods to help them perform better. But, they also need foods rich in good carbs. There are plenty of foods that are packed with both protein and carbs that are free of nuts and would be easy for them to eat in between classes or at lunch time. For example, cheese sticks, nut free protein bars(Avalanche nut free bars), nut free granola, sunflower seeds, nut free trail mix, apples, oranges, berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries), bananas, dried fruit, raisins, pasta, bread, protein shakes/smoothies.

 11)…It is not a single other person’s responsibility to play your cards for you nor should society have to change the rules for everyone else to accommodate your inability to adapt and play as everyone else does…I realize that for parents of kids with peanut allergies you live in fear and worry every day that your child will be ok. Sadly, in our day, we have bigger things to worry about like kids bringing guns to school and the facts that our typical college education puts our children tens of thousands of dollars in debt with no guarantee of getting a decent job. The majority of adults in our country are obese and unhealthy and it’s trickling down to younger generations…The thing is, you have a choice, to live each day in fear and worry or to learn how to deal with your fears in healthy ways…Making school districts, other parents and kids accommodate this peanut allergy issue is teaching all these other children that just because your child has a special need, they don’t have a right to enjoy healthy foods their bodies will benefit from…It means we are teaching some kids to be entitled due to their health issues because of their (and their parents) inability and unwillingness to adapt and thrive while teaching the rest of the kids they have to bend over backwards to accommodate every single person who isn’t healthy or who has a ‘special need.’…You are telling them it is okay for the different kid to receive special treatment and not them. In fact, you are telling them they can no longer have a normal healthy food and at the same time another kid will receive special treatment because they are not normal..Again, this is teaching our normal healthy children that their natural rights have to be set aside for a select few who have a special need…It is the same with obesity. Some kids have health issues yet we allow them to not have to meet basic health requirements in physical education or sports and then look at our society. There are more obese adults than healthy and fit adults in our country. There are so many different statements in this point that I don’t even know where to start…

First, you say, “It is not a single other person’s responsibility to play your cards for you nor should society have to change the rules for everyone else to accommodate your inability to adapt and play as everyone else does.            This doesn’t make sense when it comes to a food allergy. It’s not as if children (or adults) with a food allergy have a choice on whether or not they can “adapt and play as everyone else does.” THEY SIMPLY CANNOT. A FOOD ALLERGY IS NOT A CHOICE. It’s not as if children with food allergies and their parents can just make the choice to not have that allergy anymore and eat the food. It doesn’t work that way.

Second, how can you say that a college students loan debt is more worrisome than a child’s life? Yes, college debt is a horrible thing. Been there, done that. But my child’s life is more important than if a college student has to pay off a loan or not. Everyone has college debt. It’s just a part of life.

Third, you refer to obesity more than once in this point and also about living a healthy lifestyle. That has nothing to do with food allergies. Living a healthy lifestyle is a CHOICE. A food allergy is NOT A CHOICE.

Fourth, you also said, “It means we are teaching some kids to be entitled due to their health issues because of their (and their parents) inability and unwillingness to adapt and thrive while teaching the rest of the kids they have to bend over backwards to accommodate every single person who isn’t healthy or who has a ‘special need.'”              Having a life threatening food allergy and asking others to refrain from eating those foods around the child with the allergy, has nothing to do with entitlement. Do you think it makes my child feel “entitled” when they have to sit at a separate table from their friends at a school that is not nut free? Do you think my child feels “entitled” when they are excluded from eating party treats at a class party/event or at a birthday party because those treats have nuts in them? I can tell you it’s the exact opposite. As I said in point #8, food allergy parents strive to help our children feel INCLUDED and not EXCLUDED. Our children are not entitled to anything just because a school decides to be nut free.

Fifth, as far as your statements concerning children who do not have a food allergy not being able to “have a normal healthy food” and how you feel “this is teaching our normal healthy children that their natural rights have to be set aside for a select few who have a special need,”  this is just not the case. My son’s friends are fully aware of his food allergy and are great about it. One of them even told his mother before we went to their house for a play date to make sure there weren’t any nuts around because my son couldn’t eat them. He said it out of concern for his friend. This is not a child who feels he is having his rights to eat nuts denied for my son. And I know other children and adults who feel the same way. They are concerned for the safety of the food allergy child. They do not at all feel like their “natural rights have to be set aside for a select few.” And, on that note, it is not just a “select few.” More and more children have food allergies. And, lastly, as I mentioned earlier, your children are not being told they cannot eat this food all the time. They are just being asked to refrain from having it at school. That is it.

12)Someday your peanut allergy child will leave the house and go out into the world. Here is the reality…Life folks, is not peanut free…The sooner you the parent and your peanut allergy child face this and begin to figure out how to adjust to life as it is, the better. For everyone. And your figuring out how to thrive – it can’t come at the expense of other’s rights to continue living healthily. Yes, of course life is not peanut (or tree nut) free. I completely understand that. And, I also agree that it is my job to teach my child how to manage his allergy. However, my son is only four and a half years old. He knows what foods he is allergic to, but he is not old enough to manage his allergy himself and he won’t be for many more years yet. Therefore, it is my job as his parent to do all I can to manage it for him and control the environment around him as much as possible to ensure his safety. That is how it is for all food allergy parents. School administrations realize this and that is why they determine some schools should be nut free. And, it’s not “at the expense of other’s rights to continue living healthily.” As I’ve said a couple of times already, not having nuts for one meal a day isn’t going to harm your child. They can still live a healthy lifestyle and eat other healthy foods. They can also eat peanuts at other times of the day. But, not having them at school is a small price to pay in order to potentially save the life of a child with a food allergy. After all, isn’t a child’s life more important than food?

    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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