Developing and Trusting Your Allergy Instinct
By Lily Pinto, 13, Co-Founder
My Dad is basically my personal chef, and also one of the few people I trust to make my food. He makes most of my meals and shops for the brands that my family and I know are safe. Sometimes our trusted brand is not available, and we have to make substitutions. I remember one time when my Dad was cooking us dinner, we were having a recipe with balsamic vinegar. When our brand wasn’t available, he bought a bottle of pure balsamic vinegar. Who would read that? It is just plain balsamic vinegar! When I sat down for dinner, something in my intuition was telling me not to eat it. Despite my dad’s hard work, I just had to get up and read a label. I picked up the balsamic vinegar, and sure enough, it was made in a facility with tree nuts.
An allergy instinct is something amazing. I have found my intuition has kept me safe more than my parents, my allergy tests, and the label on the product. It is something that my family has had to learn to trust and accept no matter how unreasonable it may sound. Having an allergy is not only hard at times for the person who has it, it is also hard for parents in so many ways. For a parent, it is hard to want to keep your kids safe but also expand the world for them. My parents and I had to become a team; they had to trust me. I realized that no one in my life except me can keep me safe, and they came to understand that I am capable of doing that.
Obviously, the younger a kid is, the more help they need from their parents, but I would encourage any kid of any age with an allergy to try to find their own intuition and learn to fully trust it. In my life, there came a time when I was old enough and wise enough to start to make my own decisions about my food and what I wanted to eat. I went from putting all of my certainty into my parents to starting to put my certainty into myself.
Itʼs never too early to have conversations with your kids about food. I was surprised to see that I have a piece of me that knows how to keep myself safe that I donʼt have to think about. I think that asking questions like “How do you feel about this?” “What do you think about restaurants?” or “What will keep you safe?” will bring a little bit of that out in your kids at an early age. It is important to really listen to and trust their answers. I think you would be surprised about how much a kid with an allergy knows about keeping themselves safe instinctively.