Allergy – Taking Responsibility for Yours

When you first discover you have an allergy, it can be devastating.  Suddenly, you can’t eat all the food you are used to eating.  Suddenly, going out for food with friends becomes complicated, as does being invited as a guest at someone’s home for a meal.

Depending on what you’re allergic to, this could also affect going out for a drink (how many bars serve gluten-free beer?), going into buildings (house full of mold?  I’m out of there!) and travelling (they mostly eat wheat?  My gluten allergy says I’ll starve there!)

You can let your allergies stop you, or you can find ways around these problems, deal with them, and carry on.

For an example of what I’m talking about, here is a question someone asked me recently:

My son is 15 and about 3 mo ago we found out he is allergic to beef , now this gets complicated for school lunches! he is not a cold food eater so he just refuses to take a lunch on the days he can’t eat there, the school said they would let him warm up 1 lunch a week. lately its been like 3 or 4 days a week he cant eat there. Is there a program that accommodates allergies and kids for school lunches? we already get the free/ reduced lunches, we just can afford to do this on a constant basis. anyone have any ideas pleas feel free to e-mail me we live in Illinois I don’t know if that makes a difference or not ?

The implication here is that we can do nothing about the son’s refusal to eat a cold lunch, therefore the school cafeteria should be reasonable and accommodate him.

From the point of view of an allergy sufferer, it would be great to be accommodated.  But how practical is it at the other end?  There are other things to consider here too, especially considering the age of the allergy sufferer in this story.

Here is my reply:

I understand your dilemma.

We all have certain restrictions in life – some more than others.  This isn’t just about what food you can eat, I’m talking about talents, skills, time, money, education, opportunity … you name it.

Those who do well in life are flexible and learn how to get around, over, under or through their obstacles.

If your son refuses to accommodate his allergy by bringing his own lunch to school, well, how you do anything is how you do everything.  He’ll be inflexible in other areas, refuse to help himself, and not get very far in life.

Better he learns to accommodate his allergy by adjusting.  Don’t expect the school lunch program to accommodate 25 different allergies for 28 different students.  I’m sure they’ll do the best they can, but it would be impossible for them to accommodate every last allergy every day.

Your son will have to manage his own allergy.

This may not be the answer you are looking for, and probably not what your son is looking for, but I think it is the best answer.

It may sound like I don’t have much sympathy for the son.  Actually, I do.  I’ve had my own battle with staying on the right side of my allergies, balanced with the social pressure to fit in.

The hard facts are that the world will not conform to you.  You have to accommodate the way the world is.

If you have allergies, you have to accept them, work out compromises with yourself and the rest of the world that keep you healthy and well fed, then carry on.

What is your opinion about allergies and school lunches?  Please leave a comment with your feedback.

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