Food allergies are a physical disease with a huge impact on mental health.

Photo Credit: Marti L

May is home to Mental Health Awareness Month and Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month. These are both important issues to me, but until recently, I hadn’t spent much time thinking about their link. Sure, I know that stress can make allergies worse, as it can with most things. But I’d never considered my food allergies to be a drain on my overall mental wellbeing.

That is, until I started treatment for PTSD, due to a trauma that triggered old feelings of a friend’s suicide in college. …


Living with food allergies means the threat of anaphylaxis — a severe and life-threatening reaction — is always looming.

Photo Credit: Tony Webster

As the COVID vaccines began rolling out, reports of anaphylaxis rolled in. Friends and family texted and called to let me know and ask if I still planned to get the shot. After consultation with my doctor and with a prophylaxis regimen on hand, I got my first shot 4 weeks ago without an allergic reaction and am scheduled for my second dose tomorrow.

But the prevalence of anaphylaxis in the news got me thinking. Anaphylactic reactions to the vaccines are rare: 1.31 per 1 million doses. Anaphylaxis more generally occurs in about 1 in 50 Americans. …


170+ foods can cause allergic reactions, not just the Top 9.

How many allergens do you see? Photo Credit: Vitalii Karas

Earlier this year, new legislation made serious waves in the food allergy community: through the FASTER Act, sesame was officially recognized as a top allergen and by 2023, food manufacturers will need to disclose sesame in ingredient labels the same way they do for peanuts, eggs, milk, tree nuts, wheat, fish, shellfish, and soy (formerly known as the Top 8). This was life-changing legislation for many people with food allergies —more than 1 million Americans have a sesame allergy, but ingredient labels could hide sesame under the guise of “natural flavors,” making the possibility of an accidental reaction very high.


Black children are 7% more likely to have food allergies than white children, but studies show that they are less likely to have access to life-saving measures

Source: Food Equality Initiative

When you think of someone with food allergies, what comes to mind? A rich, privileged, white kid whose helicopter parent forces the whole school to switch to hemp milk since dairy, nuts, and soy are too precious for her little one?

That’s a tired trope that has very little basis in fact.

Food allergies can affect anyone, of any age, of any race, and of any socioeconomic status. But, as with virtually everything, the intersection of age, race, and socioeconomic status matters when navigating life with food allergies. Studies have shown that the rate of allergies is increasing at a…


Nearly 26 million adults have food allergies — so why do we think of it as a kid’s disease?

32 million Americans have food allergies, the majority of whom are adults. Nearly 11% of US adults have food allergies. And yet, a lot of the conversation and representation of food allergies centers around kids. How do we create a safer school environment, where airborne allergens are banned and teachers/caretakers are trained to recognize an allergic reaction and administer epinephrine? Parents — often mothers, but not exclusively — share tips online for raising healthy, well-adjusted kids with food allergies, everything from sharing recipes to how to respond to a reaction to how to stand up to bullies.

Advocating for kids…


This International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it’s time to start seeing the Jew hatred all around us.

Photo by Snowscat on Unsplash

The idea of remembrance evokes something that happened long ago. A distant memory, not an urgent one. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, though, we’re called to remember a tragedy that happened only 75 years ago.

You’d think the death of 6 million Jews and about 4 million other people wouldn’t be so easily forgotten. But a September survey of millennials and Gen-Zers across the US indicated 63% of respondents didn’t know 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust and 36% believed 2 million or fewer were killed. 48% could not name a single concentration camp. …


Healthy diets aren’t a monolith, nor are they equally accessible. It’s time to re-evaluate what “healthy” can mean.

Recently, actress Keke Palmer made headlines when she tweeted, “Imagine if your EBT could only work on healthy items.” The tweet stirred up controversy, with commenters explaining that it’s wrong to police people’s diets due to their socioeconomic circumstances and that food deserts are a real problem facing people who rely on SNAP benefits. Palmer clarified that she meant that healthy food should be free for people who rely on SNAP, since her own bills reflect the high cost of a healthy diet.

Whatever you make of Palmer’s comments and the controversy, there’s a bigger question here: What are healthy…


As Hollywood reckons with increased representation, it’s time to rewrite the narrative of the food allergic character.

Source: Pikrepo

The recent Netflix romcom Love, Guaranteed, one of the streamer’s 10 most popular titles in September, is not remotely realistic. The plot follows a man, Damon Wayans, Jr., who goes on 1,000 dates through a dating app that guarantees its users will find love. When he doesn’t, he enlists the help of Rachael Leigh Cook, a do-gooder lawyer who mostly takes on cases pro bono because she’s just that much of a sweetheart, to sue the company. If you’ve ever seen a romcom, you probably know what happens next, but…spoilers are no fun.

No one expects a romcom to be…


The FDA’s new “temporary” guidance for food labeling fails to protect against food allergies, despite assurances otherwise

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

The Food and Drug Administration recently released new food labeling guidelines for food manufacturers to address supply chain issues due to COVID-19. In brief, they allow for food manufacturers to make some ingredient substitutions without changing the product’s label. The guidelines are made with the best of intentions, I’m sure, to ensure that there’s no shortage of packaged foods available for most of America.

Many of the guidelines seem reasonable and protective of the consumer. For instance, you can’t make a marketing claim on the label that a tomato sauce is made with portobello mushrooms and substitute the mushrooms, but…


Food allergies taught me not to take life-or-death risks. That’s why reopening scares me.

Photo by Jonathan J. Castellon https://unsplash.com/@joncas89

I stared at my plate of stir-fry, as aromatic as one could expect from a college dining hall. I was hungry. I wanted to eat my dinner, a simple enough request. I’d asked if there were mushrooms in the dish and had been assured there weren’t. But there they were, staring back at me.

I haven’t had an allergic reaction in a long time, I thought. I’ve outgrown so many of my allergies over the years, and maybe I’ve outgrown my mushroom allergy. So what if the protocols for a safe food challenge oppose eating allergens spontaneously and with other…

Cindy Kaplan

Writer, entrepreneur, animal lover. Navigates life with optimism, humor, and 35+ food allergies.

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