We have already spoken about the difficulties facing food allergy families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it be the fear surrounding food shortages or the anxieties of possibly requiring an ER during this time, we have come to understand what we need to be wary about and have learned different ways to protect ourselves and our families. That said, what we have failed to mention thus far, is how the food allergy family was more prepared for this pandemic.
The Invisible Danger
The idea of an invisible danger isn’t foreign to children and families with food allergies. For so many, understanding the coronavirus was difficult because it was invisible. However, for people living with food allergies, avoiding a danger that can’t be seen is already part of their daily lives. For someone living with a fish allergy, for example, the smell of fish can be enough to trigger an allergic reaction. Peanuts and dairy can be the same way. For people who are used to avoiding airborne triggers, avoiding the coronavirus is like second nature.
Fomites and surfaces have been one of the most talked-about topics when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many researchers have expressed their fears regarding how easy it can be to transfer the virus this way. But for people with food allergies, the idea of unsafe surfaces – or cross-contamination - is no new concept. Many food allergy families avoid foods made on the same lines as their allergen for this reason. Some even avoid foods that come from the same facilities.
Any parent or sibling living with someone with food allergies knows the importance of a good 20 second-hand washing. If you live with someone who is allergic to peanuts but still enjoy the occasional snickers, then the hand sanitizer, 20 seconds, soap scrub should already be familiar. One of the most important things when it comes to eradicating the novel coronavirus is proper hygiene. However, too many people don’t actually know how to wash their hands properly. That said, people with loved ones with life-threatening food allergies know all about singing the ABCs and getting between those fingers.
Children who grew up with food allergies know the importance of keeping safe. Given how life-threatening their allergies can be, many of these kids have already mastered the art of protecting themselves. This also means that they’re more in tune to listen to the safety directions their parents give them. For many, explaining to their children the dangers of coronavirus was no easy feat, but convincing them to follow the rules was all the harder. However, when it comes to families with food allergies, taking safety precautions and preparing for emergencies is already part of their everyday routines.
Sharing is Not Always Caring
It’s only natural for children to want to share. Sharing creates bonds and connections that result in the forming of friendships. However, when trying to avoid the coronavirus, sharing snacks and drinks isn’t always the best way to go. Sharing is not always caring. And food allergy children already know this to be the case. Children that are on strict diets recognize the importance of keeping themselves separate. Today, with schools beginning to open back up and children returning to their normal lives, knowing when not to share a cookie, or take a sip of someone else’s juice box, is a huge advantage.
Dealing with the coronavirus requires an element of maturity. For many, their children don’t understand the real dangers involved in this pandemic or choose to take risks they shouldn’t, regardless. However, studies have shown that children with food allergies tend to be more mature and responsible. Given the difficulties they face in their daily lives, they are more equipped to deal with hard times and are more likely to act responsibly when faced with danger. While the coronavirus has been difficult on many and hasn’t been ideal for anybody, the struggles have been tenfold for parents. That said, having a child that can better navigate the dangers of the coronavirus and who you can trust to take precautions to make it undoubtedly, a little bit easier.
There are several hardships that people with food allergies face daily. And for many, especially those who have recently developed their allergies, it can be tough to see the upside. However, the coronavirus has shown us that there definitely is one. The skills – which range anywhere from practicing proper hygiene to growing more responsible – that become ingrained within us from living with food allergies are undeniable. While no one was truly equipped for the coronavirus's difficulties, and while the pandemic certainly affected everyone's lives, those living with food allergies may have been just slightly more prepared.