steffanie rivers

Steffanie Rivers

*While people in Chicago are worried about boycotting teachers, a school district in Arkansas has banned students from bringing peanut butter products to school. That means no sandwiches, no candy bars, no cookies no nothing if it contains that versatile go-to snack food. Take nuts out of the equation and that rule is hard enough to enforce, because kids will be kids.

Compared to teachers’ pay a peanut ban is way down the list of priorities, but ever since the number of PA kids has surged it’s another issue for educators to address. PA is short for peanut allergy. Those who are allergic and come in contact with the round mounds could break out in itchy hives, their faces could swell or severe reactions could cause them to faint. That’s why in this school district the occasional slip-up is grounds for a warning note to parents: “Don’t send lil’ Steffanie to school with peanut products or else!”

Or else what?

If they’ve got time to enforce a no-nut ban, they’ve got too much time on their hands. I never was a peanut butter and jelly girl growing up, but where do these people come from who are allergic to the simplest things?! When I was in school nobody had peanut allergies or asthma. We ate anything they put in front of us, because nobody had a special diet. We played at recess and nobody fainted. I was on the track team, in ROTC, concert band and the marching band. In a sentence: I was all over the place! And I rarely – if ever – got sick let alone allergic reactions!

Now children have a list of pre-existing conditions as long as grandma’s. It’s not cute, parents! And if you expect an entire school district to forgo peanuts or a plane full of passengers to give up their salty snacks because your child is allergic you should home-school them and have a private jet.

I’m no doctor, but besides missing out on the benefits of nuts – just one ounce provides up to six grams of natural protein, they improve blood flow and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease – peanut allergies could be a sign of other developing medical issues which could be prevented!

More than a million Americans have been diagnosed with a peanut allergy and most of them are children. Adolescents are more likely to eat processed food at school, at the fast food joint and even at home. Most of these meals are void of nutrients and full of starch, sugar and other synthetic additives. The result is a generation of people full of mystery ailments. Add these food processing shortcuts to poor diets and the lack of exercise and it explains why 18 percent of children are obese. Youth are more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel due to working game remotes than from a sprained ankle due to physical activity.

Elevated hormones in foods have been linked to cancer. And, according to the HBO health initiative Weight of the Nation, fat children are more likely to develop diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and asthma. Cheap processed food often leads to expensive healthcare.

If your child is allergic to nuts or has other allergies doctors say it’s a reversible condition that starts with a more nutritious diet and a less sedentary lifestyle. Take the television out of their bedroom and enroll them in a Pop Warner league or school sport. And if another student has peanut butter and jelly for lunch teach your child to sit at another table until the coast is clear.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send comments, questions and speaking requests to [email protected]