Saturday, June 07, 2008

Food Allergy study Rant

Apparently, hundreds of parents are simply crazy. Yes, folks, studies have shown that regardless of parental confidence in their children's "allergies"; medical facts can't prove that the kids do, medically speaking, react.

Poor children are being deprived of "life giving" nutrients because the parents are hypochondriacs. At least, according to some specific guidelines that don't appear to take into consideration the potential for outgrown allergies, or exageration of symptoms to invoke cooperation, or the possibility that the reaction is delayed or even needs time to build up because maybe, just maybe, these parents have done a decent job of avoiding exposure and thus reaction.

Now, I don't know about you, but I find it absurd that its even a question of who's right, dr's or parents. Do schools need to accommodate parental requests regarding what children are told to ingest? Do parents need to relinquish control since they are required to send their children to school anyways?

I think that we've reached a point where the schools are providing too many throw away foods period. The kids don't need it to begin with.

But no, it's the parents who have a problem. How dare we be concerned with kids health! How dare we deny them donuts! How dare we nix nuts! How can we possibly ban pizza?

Many children spend half their waking hours under supervision of their school. Most then skip off to daycare for a few hours before heading home for dinner and bed. Is it really unreasonable that parents are noting symptoms and looking for answers?

Attitudes such as this "Fake food allergies" make parents feel even more out of control. Because their valid concerns are undermined by those who side with statistics. Statistically, I'm not going to drop dead when I hand out popcorn at the spring fling. That doesn't mean that the nasty rash and intestinal discomfort I later experience (or even begin experiencing after a few minutes) isn't going to irritate the heck out of me. And my kids?

I want anyone in a position of authority over them to take this whole "certain foods cause unpleasant symptoms" thing seriously. That may mean labeling a "little intolerance" as an allergy. At least until the medical community gets their act together and comes up with an appropriate label to be used for those who need food restrictions but are not anaphylactic.

A hundred years ago, food allergies may not have been prolific. But, foods were easier to avoid. They weren't nearly as invasive. They were often "whole". Easy to identify. I don't know about you, but common sense tells me that if every time I ate cornbread I threw it up and spent the next several days in a good deal of discomfort, I wouldn't have even bothered tracking down a doctor and trading a few chickens for his diagnosis of "I wonder if it's something known as an allergy..." I'd have followed my instincts and stopped eating corn bread. And I'd probably have noticed in a hurry that Grandma's cornstarch thickened pudding bothered me too.

A hundred years ago, I'd have had a few other options. Not the ones I have now, perhaps. Tapioca, rice, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth weren't well known and variety wasn't necessarily the spice of life. But, seriously...salad would have been safe. Potatoes, apples, water, milk...

Food intolerances need a label now because our society has changed. Parental wishes need to be followed because we are the parents. We are the ones who put the kids to bed at night and wake them up in the morning. We brought them into this world, and we have every right to not only keep them in it but keep them happy to be here. Some would call it an obligation.

I don't care if someone out there thinks that food allergies are some freudian fraud, or if they are simply another Darwinian method to thin the herd. I don't care how many people are actually at risk for anaphylaxis. I want it acknowledged that it is a valid threat.

I want it acknowledged that food can be fatal. I want it acknowledged that food is just food, it isn't the end of the world if you can't feed me or my kids. It isn't the center of all celebration. No one is suffering for lack of sugar, or need for pizza, or wasting away for the want of a PB&J. Food restrictions make life hard. And "studies" like this, that indicate people choosing to improve their or their children's health through dietary intervention are actually in need of a psychiatrist simply make life harder for those who have valid reasons for adapting their diet.

Even if we don't have a valid reason, if it makes us happy to avoid something like the plague who is it hurting to accept that choice?