I was traveling last week, helping my mom sort out the travel, insurance, and medical issues surrounding my father’s stroke.
It was strange being somewhere without my son. And one of the strangest aspects was ordering food without worrying about food allergies.
Checking for food allergens has become second nature. When I go out to eat, I check ingredients. I ask waiters about nuts. I avoid baked goods. I am so used to avoiding allergens for my son, that I find it really hard to relax when I’m not with him.
So it felt extremely weird to stand in line at the hospital cafeteria and just order food without asking about it first. It felt even weirder to pick up a cookie off the pastry shelf. And then eat it. Without guilt.
Crazy. I’m not even the one with the nut allergy.
But there I was, ordering food with carefree abandon.
I have to confess, even when we went to the grocery store to pick up a few quick breakfast items we could eat in the hotel, I still found myself reading the ingredients label. And then reminding myself that it didn’t matter that the sweet rolls had a nut warning on them.
Habits are hard to break. Which just goes to show that they’re easier than you think to create, too. I didn’t realize I was so unconscious about my food allergy vigilance, until I suddenly realized I didn’t need to be vigilant. Then I just felt kind of off-balance.
Although it was a strange feeling, being temporarily carefree made me appreciate the routines I’ve built that have become such an ingrained part of our lives that I don’t even notice them anymore. And it made me remember that we’ve come oh-so-far from those first days of my son’s food allergy diagnosis when everything seemed so terrifying and overwhelming. And now that I’m home again, it feels normal to be checking food ingredients again, as usual.
And I am kind of glad I won’t be buying those cookies any more. They were tasty, but my waistline can’t handle more than a week of such indulgences!