Help! My Child is Allergic to Everything
Your child has been diagnosed with food allergies. Now what?
Learning to navigate food when you have a child diagnosed with a food allergy can be scary, and when that diagnosis is for multiple food allergies it is hard to know where to even begin.
Help! My Child Is Allergic to Everything
First allow yourself some time to come to terms with what this means for you and your family. Food allergies have a huge impact on all areas of family life it is true, but know that there are many resources to help you and you can do this. The amount of excellent allergen free food brands, allergen free content creators and allergen free chefs means more choices - and more safety - than ever before. It can be more challenging feeding a family when a family member is seemingly allergic to everything, but it can be managed.
What Comes Next?
Confirm with doctors what your child’s allergy tolerances are. Some foods may have a more severe reaction, some may be a contact allergen vs an ingested allergen. Always be prepared with Epi pens and teach all family members and close family friends how to use them. Talk to your child about their food allergies and consider their age and maturity level when you involve them in food choices and menu planning. Talk to everyone in your child’s life about their food allergies - often - to ensure everyone is up to date and prepared with allergy safe eating environment as well as allergy safe foods.
Once you have become accustomed to the new reality, you will have some learning to do. Learning how to read labels like an investigator, how to grocery shop for allergen free foods like a spy, how to ask the right questions at restaurants and how to find reliable resources to help you navigate it all.
Make a Go-To List
After a diagnosis of multiple food allergies it can seem like your child is allergic to everything so an important first step is to make a running ‘Go-To’ lists of foods they can eat. Start with fruits and vegetables, that are naturally allergy free and list your childs favorite snacks and foods that are already free of any allergens.
Make a Menu Plan
From this list you can start a menu of meals and snacks based on the allergy safe food items. For example – fruit purees, smoothies made with water, hummus from chick peas to dip vegetables, rice and veggie casseroles, quinoa chili etc. Continue to add to this list as you find more recipe ideas and eventually you will have enough to create weekly meal plans using our menu planning tips for food allergy families.
Stock the Pantry
Pantry items can be the most overwhelming as so many ingredients go into our packaged and processed foods. Having a list of pantry necessities and the brands you find that meet your allergy safe requirements is key. Keep this list taped to the inside of your pantry door so it is within reach when you run out of a staple item or if someone else is doing the shopping.
Store Bought Snacks
The hardest part of food allergies for kids can be the fun snacks that they miss out on due to allergens in the ingredient list. Finding treats and snacks that are top 8 or even top 10 allergen free that your child will enjoy and taste great can be a challenge. Getting ideas from other allergy moms, signing up for allergen safe subscription/gift boxes like big8 crate and following brands you trust on social media can all help introduce you to more allergen free snack and treat ideas.
Packing School Lunches
Brown bagging it has never been cooler! Make all items at home and send to school in re useable containers that can double as an eating surface to avoid cross contamination. Buying snacks that come in their own 2 packs like Allergy Smart cookies is another way to avoid contamination from others lunches. Get creative with non allergen foods as snacks – dry cereal with blueberries, veggies cut in sticks with mini dips, cucumbers as mini sandwiches. Batch bake allergen free muffins, cookies and granola bars so there is yummy snacks to look forward to.
Scout it Out Before You Eat Out
Research any restaurant before dining there with your food allergy child. Understand the menu, find items that are naturally allergen free, phone ahead to talk to the manager, talk to the servers, ensure the kitchen understands all the food allergies are serious and not just an intolerance or dietary restriction. Go in ahead of time when it is not busy and you can have the full attention of the staff. Always have Epi Pens on hand. Confirm again when food arrives at the table that it is free of all food allergens. Ask the restaurant if you can bring some food items from home if they cannot guarantee cross contamination. Being prepared and cautious is going to be the new norm.
Use All the Resources
Use as many resources as you can and find trusted websites and other allergy moms to see what allergy safe foods they have found, what tips they have for school lunches, restaurants, great brands you can depend on.
I have listed a few resources here but there are many. Become your families allergy advocate and do your research. Information is your best defence and offence when it comes to navigating food allergies and keeping all your family members healthy.