Sometimes you just have to shake your head. I often join about 7,500 others on the moms-only Facebook page, Food Allergy Moms. A frequent discussion topic is what people say to mothers about their kids’ food allergies. Despite all the progress in allergy and celiac awareness, the ignorance can still be mind-blowing, especially in restaurants.
When I was growing up, I never thought about food allergies. Food was shared freely, lunch items were swapped at school and potlucks were a regular event. In my neighborhood, kids ate dinner wherever they happened to be in the evening. We could walk into friends’ homes and help ourselves—without thinking—to whatever was in their refrigerator.
During a visit last summer to the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, my 13-year-old daughter Catherine, who is allergic to dairy and tree nuts, had an anaphylactic reaction. It was her most terrifying allergic reaction to date. How did this happen? And how can I prevent a “next time”? Looking back at my mistakes, here’s what I learned.