If you have had a diagnosis of a food allergy with your child, as a parent, you will be on high alert and it can be an extremely worrying time. When your child is diagnosed with an allergy to a food that other children eat on a regular basis, there are risks that come with it, so you will be anxious, and this is completely normal. There are ways to minimize this risk and to understand their food allergy better. A food allergy is not something you have done wrong as a parent and you can control the risks.
Cook Your Own Meals
To avoid the risk of having the food crop up in a dish, it is better to cook from scratch and eat these meals together. If you find an allergy to a food that your child used to love to eat or you eat often as a family, you may want to try to find an alternative or try new recipes. Instead of thinking about what they can’t have, it is more empowering to think of all the foods they can still have and working with these ingredients to try new dishes at meal times. The more you understand substitutions for your child’s allergy, the more in control you will feel when making dishes with these ingredients. Try not to alienate your child by having different meals. Instead, make something the whole family can enjoy. There are replacement foods for almost anything and often you cannot tell the difference.
Organize an Allergy Kit
Awareness in others can help you feel more in control and is very useful for your child, their friends, and their school. Any preschool will work around your child’s allergy and ensure that they do not come to any harm, but the more information you give them about what your child’s allergy is and what can happen if they come into contact with this food, the better. They may even take it off the menu completely if they are able to do so and will normally inform other parents who are packing a lunch for their child.
An allergy kit can include a list of their allergies, medical information such as emergency numbers and their medication. Your allergist or your pediatrician will happily make a personalized plan according to your child’s needs and will liaise with schools to ensure they have a great understanding of your child’s condition. School nurses are there to make sure children with any illness or allergy are safe from harm whilst at school and can give talks to the class so that other children can understand the dangers and reduce the risk of your child being picked on for their allergy.
Inform family and friends and make sure your child fully understands too, so they can explain to their friends and can keep themselves safe. You are all in this together and, although it can be a hard time for parents, instilling too much of your worry into your child can make them paranoid and lose any feeling of control.
Find Allergy-Friendly Restaurants
When your child has been diagnosed with a food allergy, eating out can seem like a nightmare. With allergy awareness constantly on the rise, there are now more restaurants than ever that cater for many food allergies and offer great alternatives for your child. There are many ways you can find restaurants that are safe for your child; https://www.allergyeats.com/ is a great website for finding allergy-friendly restaurants near you. If you are planning a vacation, many family-friendly resorts offer allergy-friendly restaurants and bars, as well as resorts such as Disneyland offering EpiPen’s for guests to stay safe. If you check the map whilst walking around Disneyland, you will also notice that they have locations of this medication on every guest map too.
Talk to other parents who have children with allergies, as this can be the best way to find where to go. In fact, talking to other parents can relieve some of these anxieties when visiting a new place. You can find many websites that offer support and forums for parents of children with food allergies; you are not alone, and you do not need to feel alone.
Understanding Food Packaging
This can be a struggle when your child has a food allergy. The ingredient may be in foods that you were unaware of and picking up readymade foods without reading the labels must be a thing of the past. You will get used to finding what you can and cannot use and this will come with time. Until then, it is best to be vigilant and check the ingredients of food packages to ensure that they are safe for consumption. There are many dedicated parts of modern supermarkets that are now “free-from” for those with food allergies, to make choosing foods a lot easier.
Food packaging often addresses the most common food allergies without you having to read the ingredients, informing you if they contain foods such as nuts or have been made in a factory which uses nuts. If your child’s allergy is severe, it is best to stay away from food that doesn’t contain nuts but has been made where nuts are present. Enlist the support of your partner and family in this. Go food shopping together so you have someone to talk to until you get used to what you can buy and what is best to avoid. Your child should be involved in this process too, helping to choose alternatives can help them feel more in control of their condition.
Living with a food allergy is a life-long struggle but taking precautions can help minimize the risk of anything happening to your child. Ensure anyone involved in the care of your child understands their allergy and if you have any concerns or questions, talk to your GP, allergy specialist or pediatrician. There are many support groups and talking to other parents can help you feel less anxious.