Even in my twenties, parties can still be a challenge! Knowing this, I usually try to bring food I can eat, like brownies (nut free of course)! I also eat ahead of time, because I very rarely eat other food at parties. Even if my friends can tell me what is in a dish, I usually don't trust eating it because of cross contamination.
Over the weekend, I went out to a party with the guy I am dating. Plenty of food was at the party, including a bowl of peanuts sitting on one of the coffee tables. There were platters of veggies and dip and chips and salsa, which are okay for me to eat usually, along with many other dishes. Once I saw the peanuts though, I knew it was best to just wait to eat at home later that night. I was out in the city all afternoon, so I wasn't prepared like I usually am. I ate a few of my brownies before people started touching them, but I was hungry for something more healthy and substantial! Sometimes I will put food aside ahead of time if I know I can eat something, or make sure I am the first one to serve myself, depending on the situation. When we arrived at the party, there were already people there eating, so it wasn't worth taking any risks.
The guy I am dating was eating all night at the party. He didn't eat any peanuts, or anything that I was definitely allergic to, but he did eat food we weren't sure about the ingredients. When he brought me home later in the evening, I was starving and wanted to make some Annie's mac and cheese. I went to go change because it was snowing pretty hard outside, and the bottom of my pants were wet from dragging in the snow. When I came back downstairs, the Annie's were ready, but I saw him take the spoon and have a bite, then put it back in the pot. He listed off what he had to eat and drink since the party, and I decided it was okay, but it still made me feel a little frustrated and nervous to eat the Annie's. I know there wasn't a high likelihood that I would have a reaction from him sharing the spoon, but I still was surprised he had done that. We hadn't been to his apartment, so he hadn't brushed his teeth or chewed any gum. He did eat and drink "safe" foods after the party, so I was probably over reacting a bit. It is hard sometimes though, especially if it is late at night, in a snow storm, where you know if there is an emergency, it is not the easiest time to get help.
For someone who I thought truly was a "comprehender," I was surprised by this action. It shows that you always have to be careful, ask questions, and trust your gut feeling about the situation. Even people who "get it," can sometimes get a little mixed up, or not go about something the same way you would. It reminds me of something that happened when I was little.
My family spent many weekends when I was little, driving to visit our close friends a few hours away. These friends were always really amazing about my allergies. They would try to make sure there was always safe food for me, and knew how to check the ingredients to make sure I could eat it. One weekend when we went to visit, Leslie, my best friend's mom, was so excited she had found potato chips that she thought I could eat because they didn't have peanut oil. At this time almost every chip had peanut oil! In being focused on the smaller picture of no peanut oil though, she missed the bigger picture that I can't eat potato!
This story emphasizes the importance of empowering your kids to read labels and trust themselves. Even people who do "get it," can slip up from time to time, and the best way I was taught to prevent this from happening, is to always double, even triple check ingredients, ask questions, and teach your kids to read and understand their allergies.
One mom who I spoke with, interviewed, and was extremely helpful when I was doing my independent study in college, wrote me an e-mail yesterday. In the e-mail, she said that she always remembers my advice of empowering your kids to handle it themselves from an early age. I am so glad this advise helped her, and I hope it helps others. My parents showed me how to be responsible for my allergies at a very young age. They would bring me to the grocery store and read ingredients with me. They would make me responsible for always bringing and remembering my Epi and knowing what to do if I was having a reaction. I wore a Medic Alert bracelet since I can ever remember. I was looking through old pictures from when I was little, and my bracelet is on in every one (just like in this photo of my dad and I at a wedding)! It is just one other way of keeping myself safe, and something I continue to wear today. There are so many ways to empower your children, and by teaching them responsibility and ways to keep themselves safe, you will be truly helping them out, especially in the long run! I definitely believe that I am a more responsible person because of my allergies. This is something positive I possess from this experience, along with some other crucial benefits, which is a topic for another blog!