What a bummer!
Our first 4 children have no food allergies—why do 3 out of our next 4 children have them? How did this happen? Unfortunately, it remains a mystery. Experts cannot explain the massive rise in food allergies around the world--but the food allergy statistics are staggering.
With a new addition joining our family’s food allergy crew, I am reminded of some of the tips I’ve learned along the way to help protect my children. For those of you who are new to the whole food allergy thing, here are my 5 top steps when a child is diagnosed with food allergies:
- Get your head straight. This is not the end of the world. Your food allergic child can live a safe and normal life. You just need to make some adjustments and be more careful.
Get food allergy educated! Learn how to keep your child safe and what to do in case of emergency.
- Avoid allergic reactions in the first place…food allergy prevention and food allergy awareness. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “there is currently no cure for food allergies; nor are there medicines to prevent reactions. Yet there are steps you should take to manage your condition. The most important of these is avoiding coming in contact with food proteins that can cause an allergic reaction.”
- Understand food allergy symptoms—discuss with your child’s doctor how to spot an allergic reaction and what to do if your child is having an allergic reaction.
- Be prepared for an anaphylactic reaction. Learn the signs of an anaphylactic reaction and how to administer epinephrine.
- Work with your child’s doctor on an Emergency Food Allergy Action Plan. Review it. Make sure that if a food allergy emergency does occur you know exactly what to do. Share it with those you love.
Get your house in order. Make sure you have a food allergy safe home and your allergic child is protected in your care.
- Read labels on all food brought into your house.
- Avoid “made in a facility” and “may contain”. They can be dangerous!
- Be extra diligent when eating out or going on vacation.
- Train everyone in your family on the new “food allergy rules of the house” and teach your allergic child at age-appropriate intervals proper protective and preventive food allergy steps. This doesn’t have to be scary, and the tone that you use to communicate can make the difference between living in fear and living with healthy boundaries.
- Focus on the foods your child can eat. Sure it can be overwhelming at first, but for the majority of food allergy families there are some amazing safe food allergy options. With so many millions of food allergic people in the US, dozens of food companies have begun to recognize and cater to the growing food allergy market.
- Connect online. There many food allergy resources online. Whether by reaching out to non-profits or joining food allergy support groups, chances are someone has already been in your shoes and can offer some amazing advice regarding an issue you are having.
Educate those close to you and your child. Do everything you can to ensure that your child is safe when out of your care.
- Inform, warn, and train your close friends and family as well as your child’s babysitter. Anyone who takes care of your child should be aware of your child’s allergies, on board with your rules, and familiar with your Emergency Food Allergy Action Plan.
- Notify your child’s school. File a Food Allergy Action Plan with the nurse’s office.
- Become your child’s advocate…everywhere. Restaurants, family dinners, play dates, doctors, school, camp. You cannot be shy. You have an obligation to be a pest. When in doubt…speak up! Your job is to keep your child safe. Period.
Are you a seasoned food allergy parent?
What helpful tips can you share for those whose children are newly diagnosed with food allergies?