I was sitting in the train on my way to one of my very early morning shifts. I can’t eat breakfast so very early so I usually have my cup of tea and then take along either a muesli bar or something else I can nibble on while on my way. On that specific morning I had a bag of almonds with me.
At this time of the morning there are usually not many people on the train. Not that this is of any relevance but it makes me watch who gets on and off and who is actually traveling with me. And maybe because of that I suddenly thought of nut allergies.
Here I was, eating nuts on a train. A public place, where all kind of people go in and out. And I eat something so many people are highly allergic to.
Many years ago a mom told me during a play date in a park that she never uses the public barbecues that are everywhere here. I thought she had the same reason I do. I simply think that they are not clean and I just can’t deal with the idea that I prepare my food on “left overs” (even if I clean it thoroughly myself) of someone else. But she had a very different reason.
Her daughter was highly allergic to nuts. All kind of nuts but especially peanuts. And she explained to me how only the slightest trace of nuts can cause severe issues for her. She explained to me why schools have such strict policies in regards to certain food types, especially nuts. Only a handshake of someone who just ate nuts can cause a severe reaction.
So there I was, with the nuts in my hands, on the train. And I suddenly felt bad. Even though I didn’t make a mess while eating them I most likely had traces of them on my hands. And while I’m for sure not running my fingers over the seats on the train I do touch certain things on my way out. I really don’t know why the thought had come up. I don’t know why I felt guilty in that sense. But I did. Guilty for eating something that causes problem for others. Guilty for eating it somewhere where it could affect others. I thought about the aftermath my action could have for someone who just goes their way, making sure they stay away from the product that has the potential to take their life. Guilty for this tiny possibility that was there for my action to cause a probably very unlikely reaction in someone.
While I was thinking about what my appetite for nuts could potentially cause I also started wondering if there were people back in the days when I was a little kid who had issues with nuts. If I look around and see how many of the children our kids interact with actually have allergies I’m pretty sure that the numbers were not even close back when I was their age. None of my friends had any issues with any food groups. The first time I actually heard of a food related allergy was when I was about 20 and from someone who had celiac disease. I wonder if people simply didn’t talk about it and just made sure they avoided it as much as possible. But then there would have been an issue with the things we brought along to eat during recreation.
There were always all kind of nuts in our house, especially during the winter months. Peanuts were typical for the Christmas time and so were walnuts. It was one of the go to snacks together with dried fruit. It was something we snacked on when friends were over. And the only reason for little kids to not eat peanuts was that they could joke on them.
My daughter refuses to eat nuts. Not because she doesn’t like them but because when she was little two of her friends had a severe nut allergies. I think she is simply worried it could get to her too. I know she has no issues (I tested it, believe me). But I can’t convince her that she’ll be right.
I know I shouldn’t have felt guilty because I could as well eat a banana and cause issues for people. There are so many allergies out there. I will keep taking my nuts along and enjoy them. But I might stay away from eating them on a train…