The following is an excerpt from an article called “Everyone’s Gone Nuts: The exaggerated threat of food allergies,” by Meredith Broussard (subscription required). It appears in the most recent issues of Harper’s Magazine:
There is no question that food allergies are real. Yet instead of creating the healthy, happy children shown here [a photo from a Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network brochure is pictured], exaggerating the threat may actually do as much harm as the allergies themselves. The peril is now perceived as so great that psychosomatic reactions to foods and their odors are not uncommon. Recent surveys have also shown that children thought to have food allergies feel more overwhelmed by anxiety, more limited in what they believe they can safely accomplish, than even children with diabetes and rheumatological disease. One study documented how food-allergic youths become terror-stricken when inside places like supermarkets and restaurants, since they know that allergens are nearby. Such psychological distress is exacerbated by parents, who report keeping their children away from birthday parties and sending them to school in “No Nuts” T-shirts. Having been fed a steady diet of fear for more than two decades, we have becomes, it appears, what we eat.
I suppose it’s old news, but fear and anxiety over allergies seems to fill people, probably because of the immediacy of allergies. I’d wager a lot of people know someone with an allergy and they’ve maybe witnessed a reaction, or had such an event described to them. Are severe reactions typical?
Who knows? All I know is a fuckin’ love peanut butter, and pass the friggin’ milk.