On October 26 my daughter Rachel (9 years old) had 6 of her closest friends over for a "craft night." They have been taking turns each month and now it was our turn to make the crafts, eat dinner and of course have some crazy fun. What made this gathering of friends unique was that 4 out of the 6 girls had some sort of food allergy/intolerance. Rachel has celiac disease and has been GF for 3 years. But, her older brother Josh has been GF for 10 years. Rachel has lived her life knowing about the in's and out's of a GF lifestyle.
In our eclectic group we had a friend who is a Type 1 diabetic and celiac, another who has a severe peanut/tree nut allergy and one who is lactose intolerant along with Rachel (celiac). Oh, and another friend was not celiac but had 2 siblings and a mother that are. All of this was unheard of a generation ago, but now it is common place. The UCLA Food and Drug Allergy Care Center has this to say:
The occurrence of allergic disease is skyrocketing, and some
estimates are that as many as one-in-five Americans have an allergic
One of the many hypotheses out there on why this is occurring is that there is a heightened awareness among doctors, parents, teachers and the general
public about the symptoms and potential consequences of food allergies. This
may contribute to the reason why we are meeting more people with food allergy.
So, what is happening to this young generation with all of these food allergies/diseases? The answer is that they are becoming more thoughtful, empathetic, selfless, generous people. My experience with our "craft" night had left me with such an enormous amount of pride for these girls. With a bit of planning and open communication with their parents, we were able to have a wildly successful night. Each one of the girls were more concerned about their friend's dietary restrictions than their own. They wanted to make sure that their friends were safe and cared for- that was priority #1! Dancing to Gangnam Style was 2nd-sorry PSY!!
I have seen this time and time again not only in my home but in the schools as well. This younger generation is so accepting and tolerant to the differences in each other. No one is "weird" because they can't eat peanut butter or regular pizza! They just accept one another for who they are not what they eat.
For all of this I am incredibly thankful and wildly proud.