I assume you’re reading this blog because you just found out your child has food allergies. First, I am sorry. This sucks, there is no other way to put it. If you are anything like me, you are thinking of all the family gatherings, holiday treats, and birthday parties for years to come. That is okay to do. Your life is changing, and you should mourn a bit.
Here is a list of FAQs that is helpful for anyone new to managing food allergies in kids.
What caused my child’s food allergies?
There are different theories as to why food allergies are increasing each year. However, there is not a clear answer as to what causes food allergies. What I am 100% sure of: it is not your fault. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out if it was due to your diet while pregnant, introduction to foods, etc. Being a food allergy mom blesses us with all kinds of things to think about…don’t try to figure out the ‘why’.
How do I make my kitchen food allergy safe?
This will take some time. At the time of my youngest daughter’s diagnosis of a peanut allergy, our older daughter was eating a PB&J every. single. day. Cleaning the table (top, bottom, and legs) was my first order of business. I knew it was covered even though we did a basic wipe down each day. Then, I started going through all items in the kitchen that I knew came in direct contact with her allergens. I started running everything through my dishwasher on the ‘Sanitize’ cycle. I also bought new plates, cutlery, and cups for my allergic child, so as to not risk cross-contamination (I suggest buying one color that is only used for your child with food allergies). This cleaning purge will take a couple of days. I would suggest getting some disposable plates and cutlery until you have a sense of safety in your kitchen.
What am I going to feed my family?!?
First, go through your pantry and fridge. Is there anything that is safe and your child can continue to eat? If there are multiple allergies, probably not. Time to go to the store.
There are options. Luckily, the options for gluten-free and allergy-free foods are growing each year. What I do recommend is going to the store and sticking to the basics until you can plan out full-on, safe meals. You need to do your research and find safe recipes. For our family, we needed to stick to meat, fruit, and veg that the first week. Just be sure to check your spices for allergens. What I do NOT recommend is heading to Whole Foods without a list and plan. You will end up ugly crying in the aisle and whispering expletives to condiments and frozen foods…like me. After getting simple foods to survive the first week, I would HIGHLY suggest looking at Allergy Awesomeness’s website here. She is my go-to for recipes and desserts on the weeks I have time to cook meals.
I’ve created a look into a quick and easy week of meals that work great for those new to food allergies. Head to my website to download your FREE copy.
How do I keep my child with food allergies safe at school?
Your allergist will give you a food allergy action plan. Contact your school nurse and teachers immediately and inform them of that plan. Find out what your school’s policy is on allergens and act accordingly. Be sure you always follow the advice and allergy action plan from the allergist. This is indeed a matter of life and death.
We are lucky enough to be at a small school that easily accommodates food allergies. However, I know that is not always the case. Be ready to advocate, advocate, advocate!
If it is an option for you, I would also suggest signing up either as a room-mom or as a room-mom helper. Even if you do not want to contribute to the party activities, you can volunteer to supply the food, so you are always 100% your child is safe and not left out of the festivities! I also snag every opportunity to supply snacks for after-school activities, field days, and special occasions.
Does this mean I cannot eat my bodyweight in Reese’s Peanut Butter cup eggs at Easter?
Oh, wait, was I the only one thinking this?
Sadly, for me, the answer was yes. There are a lot of things you will realize revolve around food. Every holiday, birthday party, school event, celebration, etc. In my opinion, there are two options.
- Change things up at family gatherings and holidays. I realize this might not be realistic for all families. If you are like me, I grew up visiting my grandma and eating all the southern food. If it is covered in cheese, chocolate, or gravy….it was on the table. You can attempt to change the focus from food to family, but everyone must be on board.
- Learn to cook for your allergic child so they do not miss out on much. There are very few things I cannot replicate using safe ingredients. However, every now and then, there will be something I cannot even attempt, or the attempt is a flop. At that point, I’m sure to bring something that distracts from other peoples’ plates. Typically, that is in the form of desserts. Krispie Cake (recipe here) is our go-to but I have often packed safe cookies and cake as well. I put it on their plate with the rest of the food as everyone else is sitting down for dinner. Then, kiddos focus on the treat and not what they are missing.
Take a deep breath. This will be hard, but in no time, it will be your new normal. You are going to be amazed at how tough and resilient both you and your child prove to be. You are welcomed into a community of Moms (and dads, grandparents, and all other caretakers) that get it and will support you, your child, and your navigation through the world of food allergies. Food Allergies are tough, but so are you.
Are there any other questions I can answer for you? Need to chat with another allergy mom? Email me or leave a comment and I will support you in any way I can.
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