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est. march 5, 2020

Message to Readers

I need feedback! :) Also, I just realized that I misread the word length requirements and my piece is a bit too long, but that will be fixed! Reviews are greatly appreciated, but please submit them on this piece instead (I copied it into a free write as a precaution)
https://writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/170905/version/337975

Title ideas greatly appreciated! <3<3

Food Allergies in Today's Society (I REALLY NEED FEEDBACK AND TITLE IDEAS!!!!!) (TW: bullying and anaphylaxis)

June 10, 2020

FREE WRITING

10
    Every time I step into a restaurant, I wonder if I will leave it healthy or poisoned. As a teenager living with a food allergy in a very culinary-centered society, even one misstep can lead to sickness. Though food safety progress has been made, I must tread lightly to ensure my safety. 
    I was diagnosed with celiac disease at age five. Celiac disease is slightly different from a food allergy because of the auto-immune response involved. If I eat gluten, which is wheat, barley, and rye, among other grains, my immune system attacks itself which can lead to a series of problems if left untreated. However, avoiding these ingredients isn't the hard part. People with celiac disease are often so sensitive to gluten that even a crumb that falls into their glass of water can trigger a response. This is called cross-contamination and can often be more miserable than direct contamination.
    Communication is so important to make sure that people living with food allergies are safe, but it is often what restaurants and other people are lacking. I was in New York City for Thanksgiving four years ago and my parents were excited to take us to a dedicated gluten-free restaurant. We were going to get their Thanksgiving special, which consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, much like our traditional Thanksgiving meal. Our waiter came to take our order and my mom went down the customary checklist to see if a place was safe for me to eat at. "Do you clean your cutting boards? Do you serve anything that isn't gluten-free? You're a dedicated gluten-free facility, right?" The waiter had a really thick accent, that much I remember, and he assured us that everything the restaurant served was gluten-free, except for a case of beer in the back of the bar. My mom went on to grill him about the meal we planned to order and he assured us that it was all safe for me to eat. "So, the Thanksgiving Special, with the turkey and the mashed potatoes, is one hundred percent gluten-free?" The waiter was shocked. I remember that he seemed appalled that we would even consider a gluten-free rub on the turkey. By making that single dish with the allergen, the place was no longer a dedicated facility.
    When I get contaminated, I feel like I've gotten the flu. I throw up, have headaches, and feel too tired to do anything. Not to mention the internal consequences. My immune system attacks my villi, the structures in the small intestine that absorb nutrients. However, this is a cakewalk compared to what can happen if someone with a more severe allergy eats something that they're allergic to. My father's co-worker was camping with his daughter, who had a severe allergy to peanuts. It was dark and she ate something that shouldn't have had peanuts in it, but it did. She went into anaphylactic shock and eventually passed away. I was so upset when I heard that stories like this still happen. Her life could have been saved by a simple cardstock sign over the food that warned her of what it contained. 
   Thirty two million Americans live with food allergies, and yet stories like this happen far more frequently than they should. Every year, 200,000 people in the United States require emergency attention because of a reaction to food. Our communities have made huge strides toward a more inclusive society, but people with food allergies, especially children, still face issues on a day to day basis. One in three children with a food allergy is bullied as a result. There was even an incident where a child with a severe allergy to dairy passed away as a result to being chased with milk by his classmates. When I heard of this, I was angry. Someone who doesn't live with an allergy can never truly understand, but the least they can do is be understanding and support others in whatever way they can. 
    Another issue is the cost of living. Families caring for someone with a food allergy spend $25 billion each year. I've noticed that gluten-free food is much more expensive than other types. This doesn't worry me now, because my parents are very supportive and our whole family is gluten-free, but I am concerned about when I move out and go to college. How will I be able to pay for a living space, schooling costs, and student debt, all while dumping my minimum-wage paycheck into food that is up to 145 percent more expensive, according to a 2019 study. 
    Food allergies also have an emotional impact. 92 percent of parents say that they fear their child's safety some or all of the time. 75 percent say that it causes anxiety for their family, not just the person with the allergy. It can also lead to some conflicting views within the family. My mom, for example, is very protective and lives by the motto "better safe than sorry." If I ask her if something is safe for me to eat, she often asks me, "Is it worth it?" To me, it's never worth getting sick, so I often miss out on food opportunities that are probably okay for me to eat. My dad, however, thinks I should expand my horizons and try new things. 
    Another issue I experience because of my allergy is lack of trust. My librarian once tried to pressure me into eating ice cream, even though I assured her several times that I couldn't. She kept telling me, "You'll be fine," and "What's the worst that will happen?" Those kinds of things are easy to say when it isn't your health on the line, but that experience really stressed me out. If someone offers me something and tells me it's gluten-free, I still check and double-check the ingredients and grill them for information.
    The trust thing goes both ways, though. Sometimes doctors don't trust me when I swear that I haven't been eating gluten. I have elevated levels of gluten in my blood and have since I was five, even on a gluten-free diet. I have had nurses look at me skeptically and ask me if I was "cheating." My mom reassured her that I would never do that and that I prioritize my health over food pleasure, but the nurse didn't believe me. "Teens cheat all the time," she went on, "and they don't tell their parents." I knew my mom still believed me, but it hurt that a nurse who I didn't even know had already pegged me as a liar.
    Staying safe with a food allergy is difficult sometimes, with social pressures, constant fear of getting sick, and even bullying, but I feel confident that the world of food safety will only improve from here!
    
 

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  • June 10, 2020 - 1:32pm (Now Viewing)

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14 Comments
  • Anne Blackwood

    Replying: It's awesome; my fam just found the show browsing through Hulu.


    6 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Replying: Thanks. I just wanted another set of eyes on it so I could get a different person's pov. I think you were totally civil. And I understand what she's feeling, too.


    6 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Oh jeez. I just wrote the longest comment in the history of comments on purple galaxy's post "I want to be appreciated". Would you mind reading it and telling me if there's anything I should like apologize for or something? This is so weird but I don't want to offend her and I thought maybe you could help ack.


    6 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Replying: Yeah I love how much we're on the same wavelength lol


    6 months ago
  • chrysanthemums&ink

    i think i left a comment on another version of this piece but i'll say it again: such an important issue, explained poignantly and succinctly. i wasn't aware until now, thank you for bringing light to this issue!
    replying: nO wHy ArE YOU sO tAlEnTeD??????
    ps. aw thank you <3 luv you lots.


    6 months ago
  • Cressida

    This is definitely centered around something really important! My friend is gluten intolerant, my other friend is deathly allergic to peanuts, and I have a plethora of allergies myself, so I can definitely say from experience that allergies are no joke. Even if they aren't deadly, they can be freaking painful, and more people should be aware of the consequences eating or touching an allergen can have on a person's life. It was so sad to read about the kid that died from his milk allergy because of the teasing classmate. Will definitely do a review on this before the competition ends!
    Also, unrelated but:
    Replying: Thank you for the generous comment you left on my most recent piece! I didn't mean to have a pity party or anything, just I haven't been feeling as well as I normally do (emotionally speaking). You've always been so kind to everyone on WtW and truly seem like a living ray of sunshine! Not to mention that your writing is always amazing!


    6 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Replying: I haven't gone to the open mic in FOREVER (like a year maybe) (we just haven't had the time), but I performed an original song once. I wasn't writing THAT much poetry back then, and I had no clue that I was talented in any way shape or form for that (back then I basically wasn't XD). Once they open the events back up I might read some of my stuff, but idk if I'll have the energy tbh.


    6 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Replying: Too bad that you don't have any. The one I wrote about even has events every week like game night, trivia night, and my favorite, open mic night.


    6 months ago
  • Deleted User

    Replying: Glad to hear it! Hope it's going well for you. I know it's a really big task!


    6 months ago
  • V-Poinsettia (V-Rose) #holidayvibes

    I don't have any allergies other than to medication but my cousin and my God-brother have horrible peanut allergies so we always have to be careful around the. ANd one cousin I have can't use/eat anything with dyes. It's horrible to be bullied for that sort of thing and hopefully, no one has to go through that when I'm around. I will go after the bully! Thanks for talking about this.


    6 months ago
  • Deleted User

    I know someone with Celiac disease and it seems very difficult. Nobody should get bullied because of an allergy, that's messed up. Thank you for shedding light on this issue. :)


    6 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Replying: The Live Poets Society has competitions with prizes that include being published in a magazine/newsletter thing (I don't remember) and/or getting a scholarship. I was one of the winners to be published recently, and I don't think I was quite 15 yet when I submitted it.


    6 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Replying: Thanks! After I finished writing it, I just handed my phone to my dad because I was excited about it. He immediately said "I have to show it to Joe (the owner), and before I knew it, Joe was like "Send it to me, I'll read it on today's live." So yeah it all just sort of happened XD.


    6 months ago
  • sunny.v

    i’ll get to working on a review!!


    6 months ago