« September 2005 | Main | November 2005 »

October 29, 2005

Yeah, my child has a food allergy too

Over the years, we been thankful for the people that we've met that have truly taken an interest in our children’s' food allergies. You know when someone not only "gets it" but also takes to heart the seriousness of a child food allergy. They are the people who show concern and ask how they can help - whether in the classroom, on the soccer field or perhaps at a play date.

Sometimes we run across parents who reply in a different fashion. "Yes, my son has peanut allergy too, every time he eats a cookie with a nut in it, he gets a rash." Really? Every time? (My best shot at electronic sarcasm.) We don't bother trying to explain that food sensitivity is not a food allergy or that if the child truly has a severe food allergy, they could be making it worse in the long term by not avoiding the allergens.

We even run into situations where a child has been to the Emergency Room several times a year for exposure to certain foods. I have to wonder where the parent's head is at in these situations. If you know your child has a life threatening food allergy, wouldn't you do everything in your power to keep them from eating it? E.R. visits are scary. Why put your child through that several times?

I may be missing something here. If you are a reader of this site, you know I am not of fan of over-the-top communication and protection of your child. I am a proponent of practical, prudent approaches to keeping children with a food allergy safe. Shouldn't a couple visits in the same year to the E.R. for anaphylaxis be a signal that you need to change things?

Make it a great day and let's keep 'em safe out there.

Posted by David at 8:37 AM

October 20, 2005

Friends cooking for your child - a good idea?

I always get more than a bit concerned about foods prepared outside of our home for our children with food allergies. I so appreciate the extended family and friends that show genuine concern and want to help by preparing allergen free recipes and it is so much better now than in the early years.

Here's our approach... we allow our kids to eat home cooked meals at only the closest of friends and relatives - people who have known our kids' situation for years and have demonstrated their understanding of the seriousness of the food allergies. We are lucky, our kids' aunts and uncles have gone to great lengths to take care of our kids when it comes to family get togethers. And this is on top of the fact that we live out of town, so they don't all deal with the food allergies on a regular basis (although now, some do... good ol genetics). The best part is that they still ask us about ingredients and what is safe for the kids.

When we get calls from well-intentioned parents from school or sports teams, we thank them for their concern but simply provide snack for our own children. Although we appreciate their effort, we don't feel it is right to expect them to go the extra mile in preparation and take the burden of responsibility if something went wrong despite their best intentions. So, not preparing peanut butter cookies for the soccer snack is much appreciated, however, we'll make sure we bring a peanut free snack and an Epi-Pen just in case.

Posted by David at 8:15 AM

October 17, 2005

Child Food Allergies and Autism

I just read an article about a parent whose child has autism and how it relates to his child's food allergies. I admit, I know very little about autism outside of some personal relationships with parents whose child has it. The article said that managing food allergies had made a huge difference in the child's disorder and his pediatrician failed to recognize.

The parent had his child checked for food allergies and the result was a long list of problem foods. Gluten and casin turned out to be the major offenders and resulted in a intestinal disorder which triggered problems in his behavior as well.

The writer goes on to say, "There are thousands of parents of children with autism who had or still have no idea that a simple change in diet could make a world of difference." He suggests seeing an allergist, nutritionist and a gastroenterologist. So, if behavioral problems persist, you may want to take this advice.

Posted by David at 7:30 PM

October 12, 2005

Boo! Halloween with food allergies... Scarey!

Halloween is upon us once again, so how does our family deal with the food allergy issue? Well, let's start by saying, we live in a warm weather climate, so that affects our approach somewhat (not too much protective clothing like gloves and long sleeves).

Here are some things we do to keep our kids safe this time of year:

1) Stay with them the entire time (our oldest is only 9 yrs old). This is just good advice for all parents. Letting your child walk around in the dark without you just isn't a smart thing to do.

2) Have the kids wear light gloves. They can still handle all the candy and drop into their bag safely. Long sleeve shirts might help as well.

3) Trade up. Right when they get home, have them trade a piece of non-safe candy for a safe one. (Simply buy a couple bags of safe candy ahead of time.)

4) Just say no. Its okay to say "no thank you" to a peanut butter cup and the likes.

5) No eating on the run. When its dark out, you wouldn't want to make a mistake on which candy the child was snacking on.

6) Most of all - Be prepared. EpiPen, cell phone, flashlight. Ask yourself, "What if...?"

There are some good resources on the FAAN site on this topic too. Take a look and develop your own customized management plan.

Posted by David at 4:52 PM

October 5, 2005

Eating out with child food allergies

With two kids that have severe food allergies, eating out (as you might guess) is a bit of a challenge. When we decide to go out (very rarely on whim), we have a handful of restaurants that have earned our trust over the years. Those that have answered our many questions with confidence after going back in the kitchen and reading ingredient labels. Some of the better ones have even brought the labels up front to double check with us.

For the most part, we find restaurant staff pretty helpful with child food allergies. It’s not always easy. Sometimes a waiter just won't get it and you can usually tell. Then we talk to the manager and explain that a kitchen mix-up could lead to the ambulance at the restaurant front door and our child in anaphylactic shock. That usually gets their attention. We ask a lot of questions as our kids have peanut allergies among others. Sure peanuts are not listed as an ingredient, but do you fry anything in peanut oil? What about the fries, are they fried in the same vat as the egg-based batter used on the chicken strips?

One piece of good news is because we don’t eat out much, we eat healthier and probably save a bunch of money (although we’ve never calculated the “savings” from having a child food allergy). ;-)

Posted by David at 9:27 AM