It’s hard to eat something that looks tasty, like a pumpkin muffin or a brownie, in front of children, without them asking for a bite. I coach a bunch of energetic 7-10 year old swimmers at the local YMCA, and at our meets, I have access to the hospitality table of snacks for coaches and officials. Every time I try to eat something, I am swarmed by my athletes, asking if I can share a bite of a muffin, or get them some crackers. I have taken to telling them that I have a “Don’t Feed the Children” rule, just like when you go to the zoo, there is a “Don’t Feed the Animals” sign. I explain that I don’t know if they have any food allergies, and if I fed them something that made them sick, I’d feel pretty bad. So, if they are hungry, they have to go see their official keepers (aka mom and dad) to provide safe snacks.
I’m not sharing this simply to demonstrate my convenient excuse for not sharing my much-need muffin with my swimmers. Food allergies, ranging from digestive intolerance to full anaphylactic shock, seem to be on the rise in this country. A 2008 CDC study showed an 18 percent increase in food allergies in U.S. kids between 1997 and 2007. Continue reading