A few months back I introduced you to the adorable My Food Allergy Friends book series. Jackie Nevard, the author, was recently telling me about how they’ve been really successful in teaching children about food allergies by reading from her books and discussing the characters during a story time event. I wanted to share her experience with you in hopes that you may be inspired to start a story time event in your area – perhaps it could be at the library, your child’s school, or your child’s extracurricular activities. Any time would be appropriate to help educate more children about the dangers of food allergies. You can use the My Food Allergy Friends books series or another food allergy children’s book. The important thing is just to get out there and teach these brilliant young minds to be aware! Read more
Posts tagged ‘Food Allergies’
Today’s guest post is about some of the mild reactions that can present themselves due to a dairy allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance. We know food allergies (an immune response) can be deadly, but mild reactions sometimes go unnoticed and untreated and many times are similar to a more delayed food sensitivity reaction, making it difficult to diagnose a true allergy vs. a sensitivity without a blood test. Allergy testing is a great way to know for sure if your child has a true allergy, but results are often inconclusive and can provide false negatives or false positives. Most the time the only real way to know if you’re dealing with a true allergy is to keep a detailed history of past reactions and to do an in-office food challenge with your allergist or have them help you with an elimination diet. It’s obviously critical to get a proper diagnosis if your child has a severe food allergy, but if your child has more mild reactions to foods, I’m not convinced a true food allergy diagnosis is necessary since allergies and sensitivities can trigger similar mild reactions. Read more
Have you heard about Namaste Foods? They make pasta meal kits, baking mixes and coating mixes that do NOT contain wheat, gluten, corn, soy, dairy, casein, peanuts or tree nuts. All their products are made in a 100% dedicated gluten and allergen-free facility, owned and operated by Namaste Foods themselves. And all their products are genetically modified (GMO) free. Pretty impressive!
Namaste kindly sent me a couple of products to review. Since my family loves trying new things, we were thrilled. But sending pasta and a cake mix, my kids were over the moon! Read more
Kids get sick, it’s just part of growing up. But when is a cold not just a cold? When does it mean there could be more going on internally? What if you could help your child get better? I know you’re like me and would want to do everything you could possibly do for your child in order to keep them healthy and happy. Today’s post is about how one mom did just that. She realized surgery wasn’t the answer in her son’s case and she went looking for answers.
- Jennifer Read more
Our second LIVE with The Lunchbox Doctor information session on Facebook is Wednesday Oct 23rd at 10am EST. This live informational session will be on Eczema and Nutrition. Jenny will be here to answer your eczema and nutrition questions in real-time.
Get answers to:
What foods can trigger eczema?
How do you figure out what foods are a problem?
What is an elimination diet?
Frustration for me is having no answers. Right now I’m very frustrated.
Over the past few weeks Tristan’s asthma has started to flare out of control. Every night he has coughing fits as the Ventolin and the air purifier don’t offer the relief they used to. We’re on to Flovent now to see if it can help provide him with some relief. I cringe at using it because it’s an inhaled steroid with studies proving it inhibits growth, although by a very small amount. Regardless, it’s a steroid and in my mind, is not for long-term use and I like to avoid them at all costs. BUT since breathing is essential, if Flovent is what I have to use to ensure my child can breath properly and safely for now, then so be it. I will submit to using it for the safety of my child. But I vow to find his asthma triggers. I will not simply medicate my child for the rest of his life. I will find answers.
After years of struggling with his eczema, we finally have a good understanding of his food allergies and sensitivities, which were the primary triggers for his itchy skin. So I was very sure that the answer to his flaring asthma had to blamed on something else – most likely environmental or seasonal allergies. So, first stop, the allergist for some skin testing. I know birch pollen causes his eczema to flare up each spring, but doesn’t seem to affect his breathing. But when ragweed was at its peak late this summer, he had a severe asthma attack out of the blue. Coincidence? Before and after that his asthma would come and go with the night-time coughing. Was it due to ragweed? Mold? Dust mites? I couldn’t wait for the allergy test as I was 100% sure we would find the answers.
And I was very wrong. I’m sorry to say that Tristan tested negative in skin tests for the most common seasonal and environmental allergens. Like I said, frustration. That’s where I am right now. Beyond frustrated.
I felt so disheartened when I saw the results. I’m sure most people would be relieved to see negative test results, but not me. I wanted answers. I asked the doctor how this could happen – how could Tristan test negative when it seemed pretty obvious that ragweed triggered his severe asthma attack. The ragweed numbers were off the chart that day according to meteorologists. It couldn’t be a coincidence. According to his doctor, there are some people, mostly atopic, that test negative in skin tests, but show positive results (an actual immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated responses) in the lungs themselves! What? Wow, I’d never heard of this. Before I got too excited, he explained that it’s not recommended to do the lung test on young children as it’s quite invasive as severe coughing must be induced in order to get the secretions they need for testing. I believe this method is called bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL).
So, the pediatric allergist was not willing to do the test on him, and quite frankly, I’m not sure I’d be game either after reading more about it. Where does that leave me? With no answers. Frustrated.
But, as with his eczema, I shouldn’t have expected the asthma journey to be easy. Medication is readily available, but actual causes, actual triggers, much harder to find. It may take years, but I won’t give up. In the mean time, Tristan is going to be taking Flovent regularly so we can get a better handle on his asthma. The doctor had an excellent point when he indicated that inflamed lungs result in more severe allergic reactions to food allergens. And I certainly do not want to experience full-blown anaphylaxis again, ever. So, Flovent for now.
Then, next step is homeopathy. Fingers crossed, toes crossed, everything crossed. Surely it won’t be that easy, but I’m always hopeful. If I lose hope, I’ll give up the fight for my child and that’s just not an option.
First, a quick announcement.
SAVE the DATE for our first “LIVE with the Lunchbox Doctor” information session! In these monthly live Facebook chats Jenny, a mother and nutritionist and today’s guest, who specializes in creating healthy, nutritious and allergen-free meal ideas for children will be on FB to answer your questions. Get the answers in real-time! The first live session topic will be Back to School Lunches for Kids with Food Allergies. Sept 18th 10-11am.
Check in with us on Facebook on Wednesday, September 18 at 10am EST to ask all your food allergy nutrition questions as they relate to preparing healthy, school meals.
See you there!
Now, on to today’s post….
It’s difficult coming up with a variety of foods that your children even like sometimes so when there are constraints based on food allergies and intolerance where can we look for inspiration? Well, we asked the UK’s leading Lunchbox Expert, Jenny Tschiesche for some of her pearls of wisdom. Jenny is a nutrition consultant who set up LunchboxDoctor.com to advise parents, teachers and children on putting together healthy packed lunches that meet your children’s taste preferences whilst being nutritious and delicious.
We asked Jenny how to construct a balanced lunchbox and she told us it is as simple as playing ‘Lunchbox Bingo’. That means ensuring that your child’s lunchbox has each of the main nutritional food groups represented. These 6 nutritional food groups are:
- Carbohydrate -a group of foods that include pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, oats and some lesser known gluten-free foods such as quinoa and buckwheat which can also be considered a protein source (a bonus!). Generally this is one of the easiest groups in which to find something your child likes.
- Protein – The protein group of foods includes fish, eggs, chicken, turkey, ham, beef, sausages, beans, chickpeas, lentils, cheese, yogurt as well as seeds and nuts. Lots of children enjoy processed meat but we should try and keep consumption of ham, bacon and sausages to a minimum, especially when they contain nitrates. Other meats, pulses (legumes) and seeds can all provide good protein values though.
- Calcium – The best sources of calcium are not only dairy based foods, as we have been led to believe. Whilst dairy foods such as cheese, yogurt and milk are rich in calcium there are other calcium-rich foods too. These include seeds, in particular sesame seeds, nuts and dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli.
- Fruit – These could include fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruits and again most children like one or more types of fruit so it is one of the easier groups to include.
- Vegetables – not the easiest to include in a lunchbox for some fussy eaters but crisp salad vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers and celery with healthy dips, vegetables in soups and vegetables in both sweet and savoury baking are all possible ideas to include these.
- A drink – Whilst water is best, there’s a host of other options for both allergenic and non-allergenic children that provide hydration and some nutrient input i.e. fortified milks, coconut water, 100% fruit juices and smoothies.
If you have a child with a food allergy or intolerance you might like to think about the most nutritious alternatives to the main food groups. Here are some ideas.
Although dairy foods are not a necessary part of a balanced diet, in western society we rely so heavily upon them that if we simply take out dairy milk and cheese and replace it with non-dairy milk and cheese we may be doing our children’s health a disservice. In fact there are many natural foods very rich in calcium, Vitamin D and magnesium, which might otherwise be deficient that can be included in a lunch box. Here are some ideas:
- Canned salmon and cucumber sandwiches
- Tofu, pepper and tomato kebabs
- Green smoothies with kale or spinach (10g flaxseeds/linseeds, 60g freshly rinsed baby spinach, 50g frozen mango, 1 banana frozen in ¼’s, 150g milk of choice (almond, rice, oat, dairy)
- Raw broccoli spears with a healthy dip.
- Sesame seed bars
- Seeds and dried fruit trail mix
- Hummus with carrots and cucumbers
Egg is used in a lot of processed foods as a binder. As for home-made foods, eggs tend to be used in baking sweet and savory (muffins and quiches), also to bind fish cakes and burgers as well as to thicken sauces. Avoiding eggs can be easier if you prepare home-made foods and use alternatives to eggs in traditional recipes. You just need to choose your alternative carefully depending on what the food is. Here are some alternatives to substitute one egg:
- To bind fish cakes – ¼ cup mashed potato
- In baked sweet foods – ½ mashed banana or ¼ cup apple puree. If you want a lighter texture and you’re using mashed/pureed fruit as an egg substitute, add an extra 1/2 tsp. baking powder.
- For white or cheese sauces use – 2 tbsp arrowroot mixed with 2 tbsp water
- In baking savory foods – 1 TBS flax seeds plus 3 TBS warm water – let sit for 10 minutes. If you want the baked good to be lighter and fluffier, add a ½ tsp baking powder.
Here are some egg-free lunchbox suggestions:
- Make coleslaw with a vinaigrette instead of a mayonnaise base. Try using other shredded veggies instead of just cabbage.
- Use oil, yogurt or avocado to bind canned tuna or salmon with corn or cucumbers and dill for a sandwich filler.
- Egg-free muffins – both sweet and savory using the above alternatives to eggs. Add seeds or nuts for extra protein.
- Fish cakes made with mashed potatoes and peas.
Of all food allergies this is the one, where children are concerned, gets the most press. It is now suffered by such a large number of children that a ban on nuts in schools is common-place. Even if your child doesn’t suffer from a nut allergy it is likely that they will not be able to have nuts or related products in their lunchbox.
Nuts provide some health-giving nutrients such as omega 3 fats, protein, antioxidants and a multitude of vitamins and minerals. A diet without nuts doesn’t have to be a diet without these nutrients however. Seeds are a great alternative and can be substituted for nuts in most recipes – as can seed butter (tahini/sesame seed butter, sunflower seed butter, pumpkin seed butter).
Great lunchbox foods that can be made or used in place of nuts include:
- Seeds and seed bars, trail mix and muffins
- Sunflower seed butter with apples or carrots
- Ground sunflower seeds in place of ground almonds in baked products.
- Avocados in sandwiches, salads, dips and in smoothies too.
- Olives – a source of good fats and antioxidants too.
- Dried fruit – full of nutrients but sugary too, so be careful not to overdo it.
Wheat Allergy, Gluten Intolerance or Coeliac Disease
The good news is that there are now dozens of gluten-free options available for lunchboxes. However, the bad news is that by simply replacing products that would normally contain gluten with a gluten-free version such as with bread, wraps, bagels or pasta you are often choosing foods with little fiber or protein and a lot of added sugar i.e. refined carbohydrates which provide an energy surge followed by an energy slump.
So, what are the alternatives?
In order to get a good quality and natural alternative gluten-free carbohydrate portion into your child’s lunchbox think about these ideas:
- Buckwheat or millet pancakes, muffins and cupcakes
- Quinoa salad
- Brown rice cakes
- Healthy “oat”meal cookies – use oats or quinoa flakes
- New potatoes in their skins (where the fiber is) with a vinaigrette or mayonnaise for a cold salad. Try the same with sweet potatoes.
- GMO-free or organic corn tortillas.
If you opt for foods that are gluten-free but lack fiber such as polenta, corn products and white rice (all fine to use in moderation and better than a lot of gluten-free products) then you can make up for these nutrients in the other portions of the lunchbox such as:
- Tuna salad.
- Chicken or turkey slices or drumsticks.
- Dried fruit, cocoa/cacao (raw nibs are best) and molasses or honey in baked products.
Finally, here is a RECIPE for a Moist Banana Cake free from gluten, dairy, egg and nuts
Makes 12 servings
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F)
20cm round spring form baking pan with greaseproof paper to line.
200g (7oz) buckwheat flour
100g (3 ½ oz) unrefined light muscavado or honey or maple syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
60g (2oz) apple sauce
150ml olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 mashed ripe bananas
200g (7oz) coarsely crushed pumpkin seeds
1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
2. Add apple sauce, oil and vanilla to flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just blended. Gently stir in bananas and pumpkin seeds.
3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Bio: Jenny Tschiesche is an Award-winning author, presenter and child nutrition expert. Jenny is the founder of www.lunchboxdoctor.com, which provides a whole range of resources, menu plans, recipes and nutrition advice to parents, teachers and children alike. After Jenny sent her eldest child to school in 2009 with her first packed lunchbox, experiencing the difficulties of making it nutritionally balanced whilst still enjoyable for her child, she set up a Facebook page to support fellow parents with making healthier lunchboxes for their children. The Facebook page was so well received that in 2012 Jenny wrote her first book called ‘Not Just Sandwiches – 5 ways to improve your child’s lunchbox’. The book won an award within its first month of being published. She is also a regular contributor to the national press and radio currently including BBC News 24, BBC Radio, Sky News, Healthy Magazine, The Express, The Guardian, The Mail, Men’s Health and Prima.
I feel really lucky at this moment because I made a mistake, a HUGE mistake. Thankfully, Tristan is ok.
A little background:
We think Tristan has an allergy to almonds. He used to drink almond milk daily and was incredibly itchy. After stopping the milk, the itching stopped. So, now, as far I as I know, he hasn’t had almonds for about a year. No, I take that back, he tried a bite of yogurt made from almonds the other day (completely dairy free) and he got a little pink around his mouth, so he didn’t have any more. I avoid almonds now because I just don’t know if he could have developed a more severe reaction to them, like he did with dairy not long ago. Blood and skin testing was always negative, like most everything else – even for his anaphylaxis to dairy.
Back to the present:
He’s been eating these crazy healthy gluten-free snacks for several months now, from ShaSha Co. They’re organic, raw, vegan, with no added sugar, and contain prebiotics. Just a really great product. He eats a few here and there for “dessert,” but doesn’t eat them religiously.
Yesterday I got a new bag out and checked the ingredient label like I usually do for a new package of a favorite food item. Just wanting to make sure the company didn’t add anything new and unwanted in the item.
And what did I read in the ingredient list? Almonds! What??!!! I snatched the bag away from Tristan and quickly explained that mama made a mistake and these snacks may actually contain almonds. He was totally fine. Didn’t make a sound of protest. I guess his only anaphylactic episode is still to recent and at the top of his mind.
Surely, this company has just recently added almonds to their snacks. I would have clearly seen almonds in the ingredient list before. I am SO careful!
I take a bite just to see if they taste the same to me. Hmmm…they taste exactly the same. Adding almonds probably would have given them a slightly different taste. And they sure do look the same.
At that point a big, hard, rock started to form in the pit of my stomach. I emailed the company and asked them if they’d recently added almonds. They quickly replied and said, no, always contained almonds.
Oh man. Wow. I missed it……what if Tristan had a reaction?!
MAJOR Mom Guilt!
But…he didn’t have a reaction. He’s been eating a little bit of almonds for months now apparently and without reacting. But, I don’t feel safe testing almonds on him at home anymore, so we’ll wait and talk to his new allergist about it. No more Sha Sha snacks for now. Hopefully we can do an in office food challenge and see how it goes. I’d love to be able to give Tristan almonds from time to time. Unlike most his other allergens, almonds are actually healthy and I hate that he’s missing out on them.
So, lesson learned. We make mistakes – as hard as we try not to – it happens. I am certainly humbled by this experience and am thankful everything turned out ok.
Now it’s your turn, confession time. What colossal mistakes have you made in regards to your child’s health? Please don’t tell me I’m the only one that put their child at a HUGE risk…..
It’s time to get it off your chest. Trust me, it feels good to confess
Something that really irritates me about dealing with food allergies is that baking mixes and prepared foods made specifically for those with food allergies are often very unhealthy. They are usually loaded with starches, sugar, and grains with little to no fiber or protein. I am happy to tell you, there are healthy alternatives out there for those looking for baking short cuts. Bye-bye rice flours, hello Allergic Solution!
Allergic Solution sent me each of their baking mixes to try at home. I just love to bake, so I was quite excited to give their products a try. Before my full review, just what makes Allergic Solution different from the other mixes on the market?
- All Allergic Solution baking mixes are Vegan, Kosher AND free of: corn, dairy, eggs, gluten, peanuts, tree-nuts and soy. Very safe for my little man.
- No need to add egg or egg substitute. Usually only need to add a liquid of your choice, oil, and sugar. So easy and fast to prepare.
- Contains no added sugar. You control the type of sugar and how much you want to use. We are a refined sugar-free house, so this was HUGE to me.
- Contains high fiber and protein – good for everyone, but especially diabetics.
- The company is one of the few food manufacturers with an Allergen Control Program in place. To learn more about their production standards, certifications, and Allergen Control Program, visit this webpage.
So, how do they taste?
Carob Cake Mix
The carob cake mix was the first of the Allergic Solution mixes I tried. I’ve never tried carob before as I’m definitely a chocolate girl. I just never understood carob really. I can eat chocolate, I adore chocolate, so what’s the point of going chocolate free? I was delighted to try this carob cake mix and finally give carob a go. But, I must say that carob is not chocolate. It may look like chocolate (and I was able to fool my four-year-old son), but it does not taste at all like chocolate in my opinion. However, those looking for a chocolate alternative – this mix would be great. It was very dense, but with a nice mild flavor. Maybe my mistake was treating this more like a brownie without a frosting when adding a frosting to this cake would have been very tasty. I opted for a coconut milk whipped cream instead and for me it was not enough.
I used extra-virgin olive oil, unsweetened flax milk and 1/2c. maple syrup. It seemed very runny and not thick enough for cake batter after mixing it up, but I poured it into an 8×8 in pan and baked it for 45 min. It came out with a great texture. Personally, next time around I’d use coconut milk, up the sugar, and add 1/8tsp of salt to make it super tasty.
I chose to make pancakes, but these babies didn’t brown at all. I just couldn’t get them nice and golden brown, which I often find is a problem when making gluten-free pancakes. The flavor was quite beany and they were dense, not light and fluffy, but considering the amount of protein and healthy flours, I’ll take that any day. Just add some good toppings and you’re set. We added unsweetened apple sauce, strawberries, flax, and maple syrup. YUM!
I used light flavored extra virgin olive oil and original (sweet) hemp milk. Next time I’d also add maybe 1/4 tsp of vanilla and 1/8tsp of salt. These made 20 – 4″ pancakes.
I made cupcakes, which had a very nice, mild vanilla flavor. Topped with amazing allergy-free vanilla butter cream frosting from Cybele Pascal, my favorite allergy-free baker. Sorry, no photo of these little cupcakes – they were so good they didn’t last long enough for a photo.
I used EVOO, flax milk, and maple syrup. I’m not sure I’d change anything – it was really a good, basic cake and would pair well with any frosting really.
YUM! This was my favorite! Just a quick note – I’d never made bread with vinegar before (and had no idea it could be done) and it honestly could not have been easier. I am quite a failure at making ANYTHING with yeast, so I was eager to try this bread mix out and I was not at all disappointed. I was expecting this to yield a typical bread dough, but it was very wet and more like a batter than a dough. I was very apprehensive when I put it in the oven, but it came out perfectly. Great texture – firm and dense, with a nice crusty top. I used rice vinegar (I was out of apple cider vinegar – I know, horror!), and a few other ingredients to the mix and ended up with my own recipe! The seeds gave this bread a lovely crunch and the cranberries blended really well with the flavor of the bean flour. Excellent for toast or sandwiches (roast turkey comes to mind).
Cranberry Sunflower Seed Bliss Bread
Makes one loaf of bread
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
3 tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup warm water
1 Yeast-Free Bread mix from Allergic Solution1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TBS maple syrup (up t0 1/4 cup if you want a sweet bread)
1/2 cup of apple juice sweetened, dried cranberries
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (soaked overnight is best)
Preheat oven to 400°F and grease bread pan.
In a large bowl, add ground chia, vinegar and 1/4 cup of warm water. Stir and let sit for 1 – 2 minutes.
Add oil and 1 cup of water to bowl and stir until combined. Add entire contents of pouch, plus cinnamon and maple syrup, and stir until completely combined. Stir in cranberries and sunflower seeds. Pour into bread pan.
Bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool for approximately 30 minutes.
Overall I was very pleased with the Allergic Solution mixes and would highly recommend them for a healthy, allergy-free baking option. I’m thrilled to give you the chance to try them too!
**Now for the Giveaway**
I’m giving away 1 (one) each of the following baking mixes from Allergic Solution:
- Carob Cake Mix
- Pancake & Waffle Mix
- Vanilla Cake Mix
- Yeast-Free Bread Mix
Giveaway ends March 11, 2013. Open to US and Canadian residents (except Quebec).
**Enter the giveaway HERE.**
It’s been just over two weeks since Tristan’s first anaphylactic reaction. Since then I’ve realized a few things and learned even more from all the supportive comments and words of encouragement from all of you (which I am extremely grateful for! Thank you!).
1) False negatives with food allergy tests are more common than you’d think. There are tons of people out there, who like Tristan, react negatively in food allergy tests, but indeed have food allergies. I was really surprised by how many of you commented that you’d received false negative results as well. Incredible! Why isn’t allergy testing more accurate?!!! Think of the children and adults going misdiagnosed (false negatives and false positives)! Grrr!! I wish in-clinic food challenges were more supported by physicians – it’s not called the Gold Standard in allergy diagnosis for nothing.
2) It takes some time to recover emotionally and physically from an anaphylactic episode. For at least one week I kept having flash backs to that night. I’d relive certain moments in my head, but the worst was visualizing (again and again) my son – swollen, blue, covered in hives, and unable to get enough air. I’m sure I will never, ever completely be free of those horrifying images. I’ve been hugging my son a little tighter and looking at him more appreciatively lately, thankful that I still have him in my life.
It’s also common to have additional allergic reactions, although usually on a smaller scale, after anaphylaxis. We’re lucky this didn’t happen with Tristan, but he did experience pain in his thigh and butt in the area where the epinephrine was injected. The soreness was the worst just under one week later, walking was quite painful for him.
3) It’s not always easy to talk about it. Tristan (just about to turn five-years-old) does not want to talk about his anaphylaxis. In fact, he tells me exactly that when I try to get him to open up about what happened. I did want to make sure he didn’t blame himself in any way for his allergic reaction, so I asked him and he assured me he knew it wasn’t his fault, but that it was my fault. Oh. Well. Yes, he was right. He said it in a way that wasn’t blaming me, but more simply that I was responsible. So, we talked about that (for as long as he would, which was not long) as I wanted him to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that mama did NOT know he was going to react that way. If I did I would have NEVER given him that cheese. He seemed to really understand and agree. Phew.
If you have trouble getting your children to open up about their food allergies or anaphylactic reaction, here are some great tips from Natalie, who suffers from multiple food allergies and has experienced anaphylaxis many times. Natalie writes about food allergies via her blog at Behind the Reaction.
- Try to get them talking while doing something they enjoy. Turn what your child likes doing into an opportunity to open up and talk about it. For instance, if he likes anything artsy, try drawing with him. Try drawing the ambulance or the hospital and prompt your child in that way. If the child is really into trucks you could set up a time and go by your local fire station and they can show him their trucks and how they know when they need to go help someone, etc. You could give them a heads up about what had happened and have them talk to your child about how brave he was. It may be really exciting for your child and provide them with the opportunity to talk about how brave he was even though it was scary!
I followed Natalie’s advice and took Tristan to visit the firemen who came to our house as first responders on the night of his anaphylactic reaction. I called ahead to the station to find out when the men who were on call that night would be available for us to meet with them. Tristan and I baked them cookies (allergy-free of course!) and took a little tour of the fire station.
- Connect with other with food allergies. Another idea is to find someone in the area who has gone through the same thing. I know in our area there are different support groups for food allergies and if you are able to find one you could find a food allergy buddy. FAAN has a list of support groups here and Kids with Food Allergies has a wonderful online support system. It’s a great way for parents to get together and discuss the stresses of managing food allergies as well. Often times I wish there was more of a community and connection between the kids though. I still get frustrated when people try to relate to me after a reaction because they don’t know what it feels like. The feelings during a reaction are hard to explain and overwhelming! If you can find someone for him to relate to it may really help.
After Tristan’s reaction, I started reaching out to other parents in our area to start a play group for kid’s with food allergies. It will be a sort of support group for the parents and a great way for kids with food allergies to connect with other children going through the same thing. I cannot wait for our first meet-up!
- Give them time to heal. Parents process allergic reactions much differently than children do, so be careful of how frequently you bring up the experience with your children. With food allergies it is such a fine line with the amount of information you give to children. Of course as they grow up, you want them to know that food allergies are extremely serious and can make them very, very sick, but you certainly don’t want them to fear eating.
I completely agree with Natalie about not wanting our children to live in fear of eating. Thankfully my little guy is quite the foodie already, but I know fears can manifest at the drop of the hat, so his eating habits are something I will keep a close eye on. I want him to be well aware of his food restrictions, but I certainly don’t want him to develop any eating disorders or anxieties about food. And I don’t ever want him to feel left out because of his food allergies. Definitely a tough balance and one that will take lots of practice.
How was your or your child’s recovery from anaphylaxis? What helped you get through the emotional and physical aspects?