Ah, the magic of Disney. Where dreams come true right before your eyes as you cuddle under a Lion King blanket with a bowl of popcorn (maybe non-buttered) in your lap. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s learned countless life lessons from these classics from an early age… and into adulthood. So to better help kids embrace their food allergies and build confidence, here are four Disney quotes to live by.
1. Born with the powers, or cursed?
“Born with the powers, or cursed?” asked the troll to Princess Elsa’s parents in Frozen.
As with most Disney quotes I find remarkably applicable to my life, this one takes the non-dairy cake when it comes to my food allergies. Yes, I was born with life-threatening food allergies to milk and tree nuts, but that’s not the point of this metaphor. My point comes down to perspective: Are food allergies a power, or a curse? Quite frankly, it’s a matter of choice.
Kids, I want to make this very clear: When you live with severe food allergies, one thing you can’t always choose is what you eat, or you risk your life. But you can choose to not let your allergies dictate your days. You can choose power over curse.
2. Hakuna Matata
“Hakuna matata. It’s our motto!” Pumba said in The Lion King.
“What’s a motto?” Simba inquired.
“Nothin’! What’s a motto with you?” Timone howled.
We all know it means no worries. (Is the song stuck in your head yet?) But this could mean a little more for kids facing daily roadblocks constructed by food allergies. Keeping a positive attitude and beaming a big smile are the two ingredients to making a sour situation sweet.
Take this story, for instance. One day when I was a kid, I got really discouraged when a classmate brought birthday cupcakes to share that I couldn’t eat. But before I shed any tear or grew any green horns, I remembered, “Hakuna matata.” Was I going to sit and pout alone at my desk? Or shake it off, slap on a smile, and join in the birthday celebration? Just because my face wouldn’t be covered in frosting didn’t mean I couldn’t have fun.
Parent tip: When I went home and told my parents about that day, they asked the teacher for a copy of my class birthday schedule. Whenever someone had a birthday, my parents sent me to the bus with my own treat in my backpack!
3. You must not let anyone define your limits.
Gusteau said this in Ratatouille, a movie all about overcoming obstacles to follow your dream, which in Gusteau’s case was becoming a chef. When you have food allergies, yes, you are physically limited in what you can and cannot eat. But you should not let others, or yourself, set limits to what you want to do in life because they or you think things will be “too hard” with your food allergy.
Got invited to a birthday party? RSVP yes. Have to sit away from your friends at the peanut-free table during lunch? No big deal, you’ll see them at recess. Want to play a sport? No problem, and those concessions sell really unhealthy food anyway. Traveling? Easier than you may think.
Follow your dreams and do what you please, but not based on your allergies.
4. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
Doesn’t your heart just tingle from this one? Christopher Robin said this to Winnie the Pooh. You’re braver than you believe, even when you’re afraid of eating the wrong thing and having a reaction, or regularly having to go to the doctor to get tested and re-tested for allergies. You’re stronger than you seem, even when you do have a reaction, you will be strong enough to survive it. You’re smarter than you think, even when kids are pressuring you to just try a bite of their lunch, or you have to explain your allergies to someone (even a grown-up).
Parent tip: My mom hung a cut-out picture of this quote on our refrigerator. Every time I went to search for a snack and my eyes met a gallon of milk, I was reminded of this quote.
Being a kid with food allergies is hard. Very hard. Take it from me, it takes a lot of practice to keep a positive attitude every day. But confidence is the key to showing the world that your food allergies are your power, not your curse.