Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. Commisions earned help suppport my small business, and my participation in this program comes at no added cost to you. You can learn more here. Nothing contained in this article constitutes medical advice. Always speak with your doctor for information about your family's health.
Chances are, someone you know, and love, has a food allergy. With how common food allergies are, you wouldn't think there would be a lot of misinformation out there. And yet, myths abound.
Food Allergy Awareness Week runs from May 9th to May 15th, 2021, and May is Asthma and Food Allergy Awareness Month.
In honor of the occasion, and in line with my mission to continue providing evidence based parenting and caregiving solutions, I've put together a list of 8 common food allergy myths, and the related facts. How many of these myths have you heard?
Myth: Food allergies and intolerances are the same.
Fact: Food allergies and intolerances are not the same thing. Thet are two separate medical conditions, affecting two separate systems. Food allergies are the result of an immunological response. In contrast, intolerances are a gasterointestinal disorder.
Food intolerances are also not typically threatening. In contrast, food allergies can be.
Myth: If you have a mild allergy, you can eat small amounts of your allergen.
1. There is no such thing as a mild food allergy, only mild reactions.
2. If you have a food allergy, you should avoid ingesting any amount of your allergen.
Never, ever feed someone with food allergies any amount of their allergen, for any reason. Food allergy support groups are filled with anecdotes of family, friends, and educators giving people their allergen because "a little bit can't hurt". "A little bit" of someone's allergen can be enough to kill them. If you do not understand someone's allergen, ASK. Do not, for any reason, make assumptions or executive decisions about what a food allergy patient can or should eat. Ever.
Myth: Not all food allergies are life threatening. Peanut allergies are the most severe.
Fact: Any food allergy has the potential to be life threatening.
Myth: If you have always had mild reactions to your allergen, you are not at risk for anaphylaxis.
Fact: Past reactions generally do not predict future reactions. Any food allergy patient can be at risk for anaphylaxis!
Myth: There are only 8 food allergens: peanuts, treenuts, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, fish, and shellfish.
Fact: There are more than 160 identified food allergens!!!! With the passage of the FASTER Act in 2021, there are now 9 top allergens (#9 is sesame). The FASTER Act goes into effect 1/1/23.
Myth: You can tell if a product is safe for a food allergy patient to consume by reading the label.
Fact: Labels can tell you if a product is NOT safe, but not if it is safe. Companies only have to disclose if their product contains the Top 8 allergens, and do not have to disclose risk of cross contact.
Myth: You should only epi if your throat closes, or you can't breath
Fact: Signs of anaphylaxis vary. Speak to your doctor, or see FARE's action plan to learn more. You'll notice that symptoms are not just confined to the respiratory system. Allergic reactions can affect the skin, nervous system, cardiorespiratory system, eyes, and even the gasterointestinal tract. My reactions to peanuts have varied from hives to an itchy throat and swelling of my lips and mouth. I have also experienced severe headaches. I have family members who have had severe GI symptoms, but no skin or respiratory symptoms. Other family members have profuse hives, GI symptoms, and wheezing. Knowing all the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, and acting early by administering epinephrine, can save a life.
Your individualized action plan will be the best source of information of when to administer epinephrine, so be sure to obtain one from your allergist if you do not have one (and follow it closely).
EPI FIRST, EPI FAST!!!
*When prescribed by a doctor, administered under the guidance of a medical professional, and/or used as directed. Always speak with a medical professional to see if epi is right for you. Also note, in some places, epinephrine is a component of first aid kits. In these regions, epinephrine has been deemed safe enough to administer when anaphylaxis is suspected. Do not rely on this article to dictate if epi is the correct medication for you, or your family.
Want to learn even more about food allergies? Be sure to visit Food Allergy Research and Education! Also, check out my list of 5 things I've learned as a food allergy parent, and visit my food allergy portal for even more food allergy family resources and blog posts!
Food Allergy Research and Education also has a section on food allergy myths and misconceptions. You can find that here.
Be sure to share to help raise awareness!
What you will need:
Pour water into ice cube trays. Add food dye of your choice and mix. Freeze until solid. Remove the colors you want from the trays, place on paper or other painting surface, and let the fun begin!
Looking to make the activity educational, too?
Have your child use the color mixing log and/or guide (see resource library) to predict what colors mixing will result in, add up how many drops of each color it takes to make a new color (and how many drops each cube has total), and ask them to label (and, if capable, write) the color words they are discussing. You can also have your child describe (verbally or in writing) the sensory experience of painting with the ice cubes.
Want access to the color mixing guide and log? Be sure to subscribe to my free resource library to get this, and many other great printables for you and your children.
As some of you may know, prior to having my human child, I was the proud mom to a pack of fur babies... including two dogs. Our dogs are our children, too. They are a huge part of our family, and that didn't change when our human child arrived. Our love for them has only grown as we've seen them bond with our sweet baby.
Needless to say, we are dog people.
I am also a cognitive scientist. So it stands to reason that my reading preferences would include some intersection between the my professional and personal interests!
Below is a list of some of my favorite nonfiction books that I know dog parents will absolutely love.
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Gregory Berns' How Dogs Love Us perfectly fuses memoir and science text into a compelling look at just how incredible the mind of a dog is. You will never look at your fur baby the same way after reading this book. As a neuroscientist, I was amazed at just how similar the dog and the human minds are, in ways I never would have expected. I know you will love this book as much as I do! It is also available on Kindle.
Alexandra Horowitz is a cognitive scientist specializing in canine cognition at Barnard College (which just happens to be located at Columbia University, where I study and work!). Her book Inside of a Dog is a New York Times Bestseller. I thoroughly enjoyed this scientific review of canine perception and cognition, as well as Horowitz's anecdotes about her own dogs. It is a bit more dense than Berns' book, but still an excellent read.
Anyone who has spent time with a dog likely already knows that a canine's dominant sense is smell. In Being a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz dives deep into the dog's olfactory sense. I've just begun reading this text, but thus far, it is just as good as Inside of a Dog.
Okay, so this title can't be a surprise. John Grogan's memoir has been on dog lovers' must read lists for years. It too has been on the New York Times Bestseller list. But it is worth mentioning all the same, because what list of great nonfiction for puppy parents would be complete without it? If you saw the movie, I'm sorry. Okay, it was a great film (in my opinion), but as is often the case, the book was so, so much better. Marley and Me is heartwarming, tear jerking, and will remind you of how precious the bond is between humans and their fur babies. If you haven't read it yet, you really should. Even if you saw the movie first (there are lots of little details the movie missed).
Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence-and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process
Okay, so this one isn't about dogs. But if you love reading about canine cognition, you will likely find this memoir/science read just as interesting. Alex the African Grey Parrot may be one of the most famous birds in history; upon his untimely passing, Alex received obituaries in such publications as The New York Times and The Economist. Alex helped us cognitive scientist learn that the phrase "bird brain" should actually be a complement. No, really! Alex may have been one of the smartest birds on record, but his intelligence isn't unique. Pepperberg's discussion of her deep relationship with this loveable soul will pull at your heart strings, and absolutely merits its status as a New York Times best seller.
The following are books that I am adding to my reading list, and look like promising candidates to add to this list once I've completed each. Have you read one of these titles? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments!
Love pups as much as we do?
Be sure to comment below with stories about your own dog, or book recommendations. Know someone who loves dogs? Be sure to share! And be sure to follow our pups on their Instagram account @shepherd.sister.squad!
May 2020 (Prior to 5/31)
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