Peanuts vs tree nuts (hint: one is a legume)

Filed under: Toddlers Preschoolers, Preschoolers, Teens, Health & Safety: Babies, Nutrition: Health, Development/Milestones: Babies, In The News, Day Care & Education

If anyone had bothered to ask me about the possibility of this I could've settled the matter way before Reuters decided to pick it up. According to a recent article on the Reuters online site, children's (heck, anyone's) allergic reactions to cashews are worse than reactions to peanuts. By worse I mean more gasping, more trips to the emergency room and, you know, more possibility of DEATH.

Well, I could have told you that! See, I have that allergy--the one that gets no press because everyone is so concerned about peanut allergies. I'm allergic to nuts. Tree nuts, to be exact, like our pal the cashew. This is not to say that I'm dismissing those with peanut allergies--on the contrary, if anyone can identify with you (or your children) it's me.

And it stinks. You're always being served peanuts anyway, in one form or another. You're always sure that feeling in the back of your throat is the action of it closing up on you. You're always wondering what's really in anything you eat, unless it's an apple. Trust me, I know.

I can't count the number of times I've had to give myself an epi-pen or gone to the emergency room or thought my life was, indeed, ending because of some jerk who didn't get it when I made it clear I would DIE if I ate something with any sort of tree nut in it.

That includes things like taking the walnuts off the top of the brownie and giving it to me anyway. That includes making a salad in the same bowl as the one you just used to make a salad that contains cashews in it even though I asked you to use a fresh one. That includes accidentally spilling one onto my meal that was under your hovering arm.

Sigh. And folks, I'm not asking for your sympathy here. What the heck am I doing? Well, probably lighting yet another fire. See, the problem is that I can take care of myself--I know not to trust anyone when it comes to nuts and eating things. I can't even trust my own grandmother, who once put nuts in a cake then, when asked, forgot she'd done it and advised there were no nuts in it. Sigh.

What I'm doing is letting you know that there are other kinds of allergies out there besides the ever-popular peanut allergy. And they're much harder to avoid. Most people, for example, don't know that a peanut is not, in fact, a nut.

No, it's not. A peanut is a legume, like a bean or a soybean. But it's not a nut. Trust me on this one.

And while it may seem feasible for those with peanut allergies to avoid things like peanut butter and Thai food, for those of us with the less well-known but now apparently more deadly tree nut allergy it's not as simple as opting out of a visit to the Peanut Butter Cafe.

Our children, who seem to have more food allergies now than ever are not sophisticated enough in their youth to investigate fully what is being offered to them. I made a deal with God the moment I found out that I was pregnant that my kid could pretty much eat whatever he wanted as long as he didn't inherit this horrible allergy, one that I've nearly died from several times simply because people didn't know or didn't listen.

Well, with this new research light is being shed on such allergies. Hopefully it means action will be taken. Now we're all fighting the good fight to either keep peanut butter sandwiches in or out of schools and trying to keep them off planes. There's even a vaccine in the works for peanut allergy sufferers.

But for those of us with tree nut allergies? Nothing. And that scares the cacahuetes (uhm, 'peanuts' in Spanish) out of me. Not so much for myself, but for my son, and for any parent who has a child with such an allergy.

Perhaps now, with this study, more research will be done on other allergies and more light will be shed. Perhaps more caution and action will be taken as it is will peanut allergy sufferers. Until then, folks, carry your/your children's epi-pens with you (I carry two as one just ain't effective enough!) at all times and remember: Trust no one. Especially those who don't know that a peanut is not a nut. It's a legume. Really. It is.

Picture of deadly (but tasty!) cashews by L. Marie.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.