Hello, I'm Chris and I wrote this story when I was six years old. Now I'm a whopping nine-year-old!  My favorite thing to do is play...  I like to play with my popgun and pretend I'm a hunter.  I love airplanes and I want to be a pilot when I grow up.  I think I want to fly the space plane.  But I also like P-51 Mustangs and I'd like to fly one of those.  Or a Thunderbird. I'd like to fly around the world...well, at least try to! I'm really good at putting things together, too, like making things with Legos and blocks and electric gameboards at 4H.   I had to wire a gameboard since it was supposed to run on electricity. It was a lot of fun.

I think the best thing about being me is that I can do a lot of stuff.  I can ride my bike without the training wheels, and I can tie my shoes and I'm learning to read.  The worst thing I do is when I get mad I scream.  Then, when I try to stop, I start crying.  I'm working on fixing that.

I go to school at home...my two older sister do, too.  Andrea is nine and plays the piano, and Ellie is ten and likes to draw and make up stories.  I'd like to learn to draw pictures like Ellie does.  Sometimes, the girls write down stories I make up and Ellie draws the pictures for them. That I love to do. Reading lessons are not as much fun, though I do like the new little books we're using now.

When I was very little, we found out I had this problem called celiac disease. That means I'm allergic to wheat, the part of it called "gluten" that makes bread and cakes and stuff nice and tasty!  When I eat anything with wheat in it, I have to go to the bathroom...messy.  Eating the gluten gives me a lot of gas, too.  Because it's hard for my body to use the foods that I eat, I've had some problems growing, too.

It sort of bothers me that I can't have regular bread, but my grandmom brings me wheat-free bread from the health food store and I like that. Sometimes it seems like everything is made with wheat.  Spaghetti, cookies, and even some types of chips. Luckily, there are a lot of foods that I can eat, like special ketchup that's gluten-free, and rice and beans, and fruit -- especially bananas…and jello and corn chips and tacos and some kinds of hot dogs (with no buns) and jelly beans!

My favorite things to eat are the rice flour pancakes my mom makes.  I also like Coco Blasts and Corn Pops. Sometimes people offer me stuff I can't have, and I just tell them I'm allergic to wheat.  I don't even like eating wheat now, and I feel a whole lot better when I don't eat it. Believe me, I never go hungry.

No one has ever teased me about being allergic to wheat...my friends are all really nice.  I know lots of people who eat special food , and I share my rice crackers and nuts and fruit and stuff with the other kids, especially my friend Molly who loves cashews.  One of my best friends is Alex. He's 8 and he's sometimes silly. I like to play on the computer with him.  My favorite computer game is Construction Kids, where you get to make big machines do funny things.  I even picked up somebody with one!

Anyway, I think I'm a pretty lucky kid and a pretty happy one. Who knows, maybe I'll be flying high in one of these Thunderbirds some day!

If you're allergic to wheat, don't be upset or sad because it's not that bad.  When you go to parties, you can always eat corn chips and sherbet, and on your birthday, you can eat wheat-free cake or even a jello cake.  My mom made me one of those once.  She put whipped cream on it and made it look like a lifesaver.  It also looked a little like a flower. 

If you know somebody with a food allergy, here's a hint. When your friend says, "no thanks, I'm allergic to...whatever", don't make a big deal out of it. And please, please, please, don't try to force the food, even if it's the yummiest chocolate cake you've ever had. Yummy for you might mean very yucky feelings for your friend!

Update: I'm eight years old now and doing great! My mom just published a book about food allergies called The Food Allergy Field Guide: A Lifestyle Manual for Families. (Savory Palate Press) If you're interested, I bet that you could buy it at your health food store. I'm so proud of her! 

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Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated: November 14, 2004