Today I want to talk a little about food allergies. It’s estimated that over 15 million Americans have food allergies. A 2013 CDC study also suggests they’re on the rise. There are lots of factors to take into account there, such as improved awareness and screening as well as things like environmental changes and changes to our agricultural practices that may impact the body and its tolerance to various foods and instances of cross contamination.
I didn’t grow up with any dietary restrictions (I started having issues in my mid-20’s and thought it was all in my head until I went to an allergist), so it’s been quite adjustment, mentally, to feeling comfortable speaking up and reading labels carefully. Then there’s always making sure my purse is big enough to carry an epi pen—no cute little clutches for me. I’m still working on getting over the feeling that someone is going to get mad at me for not being able to eat what everyone else is eating or that people will find it annoying when I ask what the ingredients are in a dish.
Case in point: I had a team meeting at a new job site last week, and they ordered lunch from a nearby restaurant. In the email where the menu to the restaurant was included, we were asked about allergies, and I had a moment of anxiety where I worried it would reflect negatively on me to list mine. I did appreciate how easy the little red allergy flag made it to tell whose meal was whose, though!