Article by Joe Sheeran | Photography by Neil Harman | Owl Staff
I remember sitting in the hospital room, scared, with IV’s all over my body ready to enter surgery; I was only 11 years old. How could food cause my esophagus to close up, resulting in a surgery to reopen it? It turned out that I was allergic to peanut butter, dairy products, and corn.
According to foodallergy.org, every three minutes, a food allergy reac- tion sends someone to the emergency room. That means more than 200,000 ER visits per year.
NPR.org shares that 15 million Americans have food allergies. These numbers are steadily on the rise.
According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood food allergies increased about 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.
Research is underway to help determine the cause for the rise in food allergies.
The University of Chicago reports that antibiotics could be responsible for the dramatic surge in food allergies.
They block bacteria that could help the body prevent allergy.
Researchers with Children’s Environment Health Centers and the National Institutes of Health are studying the impact of environmental factors, such as tobacco, pollution, and diet.
While allergies took their toll on my childhood, I was lucky to have a caring mother who looked out for me and put special care into every meal she made. She was always trying to make new foods without milk, peanut butter, or corn.
Some were tasty and some were not–such as pizza with vegan cheese! However, it is the thought that counts and I really appreciated her effort.
One of my favorite childhood meals was a tomato pie, also known as a pizza with no cheese. If you are craving pizza and cannot eat cheese, or you are like me, and not a fan of vegan cheese, I recommend making one topped with pepperoni for extra flavor.
Food allergies can make life difficult, but with help from loved ones, research, and tasty alternatives, there is always something delicious to eat.