By Farheen Khan
(January 8, 2010) – We all know that food insecurity and hunger are an issue in the city.
The reason is that individuals are unable to eat foods due to their socio-economic status.
There is another group of individuals that would like to eat, and can probably afford to do so, but their bodies’ physically reject many food items.
They are known as the “Allergy Sufferers”.
Lucretius (1st century BC) said it best: “What is food to one man may be fierce poison to others.”
Living with food allergies is becoming a new and emerging challenge for many people in North America.
According to a Statistics Canada census in 2005/2006, one third of elementary schools students across Canada have one or more allergies.
And according to a Canadian Magazine article titled, ‘Food allergies: Symptoms, causes, testing and treatment’, “between three and four per cent of Canadian adults, and nearly six per cent of children, suffer from food allergies, says Dr. Susan Waserman, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton.”
And that’s not all.
Allergies are expected to increase exponentially over the next 5 to10 years.
There are many reasons for this, but the one I particularly agree with is related to the consumption of packaged food that we take for granted in our ever-growing need to eat on the run.
Whether we realize it not, there are certain allergens that are often included in packaged foods.
For example, peanuts – according to the Peanut Bureau of Canada (PBC) the average Canadian eats 2.7 kgs of peanuts per year e.g. in cookies, granola bar, peanut butter and it’s products etc.
With food allergies on the rise and so many individuals suffering from allergies whether they may realize it or not, there is a need now, more than ever before, to learn and prepare ourselves on how to live life ‘normally’ with the food challenges we may face.
As an individual that deals with food allergies on a day-to-day basis, I can tell you that life has been a challenge for quite some time.
There was a time when I was allergic to almost everything, not just the consumption of food, but even the smell of foods were life threatening.
I spent over one year eating only eggplant, potatoes and chicken.
And after over 4 years of faith, patience, immunotherapy and lots of support from family and friends, I have overcome 95% of my reactions today.
To some this may seem unimaginable, but the reality is that food allergies exist, perhaps not in the same extreme way as what I experienced.
As you can imagine, living with such severe food allergies really forced me to research and understand the issue thoroughly.
I have compiled and collected a lot of information on allergies, food derivatives, bi-products and even details on local restaurants and the level of safety that food allergy sufferers can expect in public places.
As a way to assist other food allergy sufferers, I have created a website called “Food-4-Thought: A New Look at Food”, which includes my personal experiences about food allergies and my findings.
I can only hope that others out there benefit from the information, tips, personal stories and recipes that have been provided.
I also hope that this gives allergy sufferers an opportunity to share their own stories, so that they no longer feel like they are alone in their journey and so that they can share their wisdom and knowledge with others.
There are plenty of us out there suffering; it’s time we started to speaking to one another.
We can all live a relatively “normal” life.
All you have to do is to take a “New Look at Food”…