Fear vs. Hope: A Food Allergy Mom's Story

A mom and SAFE + FAIR Brand Ambassador shares her story of letting her nut-allergic daughter grow up and spread her wings.

by Sarah Datz, SAFE + FAIR Brand Ambassador

Sarah and KidsWe discovered my daughter's allergies just after her first birthday. It may sound strange, or like a trivial, first-world problem, but after the initial shock died down, one of my biggest sadnesses was the thought that she might never be able to travel the world in the ways I dreamed she would. Learning about the world through travel is at the center of who we are as a family, and suddenly even the thought of camping in a state park, where we'd be more than a few miles from a hospital, terrified me. Traveling to a place where we don’t speak the language and can't read the food labels? Forget about it!

For the first few years we had cause to hope that our little girl might outgrow her allergies. Though we have been able to reintroduce several nuts into her diet (her brothers are overjoyed by the giant jar of Nutella that's back in our pantry!), her allergies to peanuts, pistachios and cashews took a sharp turn for the worse this spring. (Her scratch test results for cashews grew from just a few mm last year to more than 60 this time around. Peanuts and pistachios produced similar results.)

It was at this point that the life-threatening reality of her diagnosis really hit me. And it happened at a time when she was just learning to spread her wings. At almost five, my daughter loves nothing more than play dates with her friends and a host of extracurricular activities that are no longer for "mom and me." She's already out there on her own, and though it makes me so proud to watch her delight in her newfound independence, it has unleashed a whole new kind of worry and anxiety in me. Gone are the days when I felt I could keep her safe because she was always by my side, and I was overseeing everything she put in her mouth.

I find myself worrying more about what will happen when she enters kindergarten next year: How quickly and adeptly will the school respond if she accidentally ingests a nut? Will she be lonely at the cafeteria's nut-free table? Will others her age (and my age too!) understand the severity of her allergies? And on and on. Fortunately I’ve kept myself from thinking too much about the teenage years so far.

I found out about the Brand Ambassador role at SAFE + FAIR soon after it became clear our daughter would never outgrow her allergies, and I’m so glad I did. It’s the perfect job I didn’t know I was looking for! Not only has SAFE + FAIR connected me with other parents who understand the struggles that children and families with allergies face, it has been extremely rewarding to watch kids' faces light up when I'm sharing samples of our products and they realize that what I'm handing out is safe for them to eat! Their smiles only widen when they taste our snacks and see for themselves how delicious they are.

And as a mom who will never stop hoping that one day we'll discover the cause and cure for today's food allergy epidemic, I am incredibly proud that SAFE + FAIR donates 3% of every purchase to the Sean M. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University. I am thrilled to be working for a company, created by two parents of food-allergic children, that truly cares about making the world safer for kids with allergies! Thanks to the efforts being made by companies and organizations like these, and all the wonderful researchers and doctors out there, I have hope that one day, with a bag full of SAFE + FAIR snacks to help get her through, my daughter will be able to travel the world after all.