< Back to Blog Posts
How My Daughter’s Peanut Allergy Helped Us Discover a Cleaner, Greener Lifestyle
Celebrate Earth Day!
The discovery of my daughter’s peanut allergy over eight years ago kicked me into immediate obsessive label reading mode. Any food allergy parent knows exactly what I’m talking about! Every single trip to the grocery store became an overnight detective search for the safe products that my child could eat. Every visit to someone’s house where there was food offered involved asking to see packages and labels. And birthday parties…those have always been the most tricky with so many sweet treats and cakes! My point is, being a parent of a child with a severe food allergy has brought a massive awareness to my life as to what exactly is in our food products. I am no longer able to just grab something on-the-go for my daughter to eat without researching first whether she is able to eat there or not, and trips to the grocery store have become much more intense as I literally put on my reading glasses and read every single label, checking for ingredient and allergen warning updates, and looking for new products that she may be able to try.
Sounds exhausting, like a lot of work, right? I hear that from so many people. People ask me all the time, “I just don’t know how you do it. It must be so hard trying to figure out what she can and cannot eat.” My kind reply is often, “nope, it’s pretty easy actually. We’re just doing what we need to do to keep her safe.” I never mind the extra research and planning that it takes to feed my daughter, and here’s why…
Being an allergy mom has taught me an enormous, invaluable amount of information about what it takes to keep my family healthy. Before my daughter was born I often walked blindly into restaurants and grocery stores, giving no thought to what I was purchasing or ordering. The ingredients, the source of the food, none of it mattered to me. My health and the quality of the food was of no major importance. But then I became pregnant with my first born (my daughter who has the severe peanut allergy) and things started to shift slightly. I suddenly began to care what I was eating, and what I was feeding her. Not that I was looking out for the planet at that point, it was more of a selfish motivation. Having that second life to care for brought a sudden awareness to me. A realization that it was time to start caring what we were putting in our bodies.
This was a small shift and it took time. As I said, I never really gave health and nutrition much thought before this. With my raised awareness, but limited knowledge, it basically started with eating more fruits and vegetables. Then, when my daughter was just one, we experienced a day that changed our lives forever. She went into anaphylactic shock while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My outlook on absolutely everything changed that day. My outlook on food, on how precious life is, etc. I went into a deep immersion of education, learning everything I could about the severity of her allergy and what she could and could not eat. This is when I became an overnight dedicated and passionate food label reader.
Learning very quickly about what was in our food was so eye opening to me. I started to read ingredients that I could not pronounce and discovered that there is a lot of artificial, yucky stuff in our food today. I started learning about what organics were and how important it is to choose them whenever possible. I learned about GMOs and how our food system has drastically changed in the past few decades. This was all so alarming and eye opening for me. I took a very passionate stance on the food that we ate in our home. Reading all of those labels to check for allergen warnings opened my eyes like I never thought it could. I now had a solid understanding of food and nutrition. This was hands down the best thing I could have ever learned for the health and wellness of my family.
So today, many years later, I’m still an avid food label reader. Not just because my daughter has a peanut allergy, but because I care deeply about what we are putting in our mouths with each meal. We keep out yucky, artificial ingredients as much as possible.
So what exactly does all of this have to do with Earth Day you may ask? It’s my heightened awareness of our food system. When I started to learn about organics, pesticides on our food, etc. I began to understand what an effect it all has on the environment. What went from a personal, selfish mission to keep my family as pure and healthy as possible, turned into a much bigger mission. Now, I take a huge personal interest in doing our part to eat the cleanest food possible, free of chemicals and pesticides. It’s a small step that we can take in our home to protect the environment.
Today, my SunButter loving daughter is a happy, healthy ten-year-old. We have big love for our favorite variety, SunButter Organic, and can’t imagine our lives any other way!
Meaghan Grettano is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and a food allergy mom.