5 Ways to Make Life With a Food Allergy Work for Your Family
You just found out that your baby is allergic to soy, nuts, wheat, and milk.
I know it’s a lot to take in. And maybe, you’re freaking out about it.
But, before you get all over that, let’s start by looking on the bright side!
The bouts of inconsolable crying, clawing at his neck, belly aches, spit up, reflux, congestion, and diarrhea can stop!
We discovered #3’s nut allergy after several months of appointments for a variety of skin issues, followed by 17 straight days of diarrhea accompanied by the most aggressive diaper rash I’ve seen in my life (he had open sores on his bottom).
We were sent to dermatologists, gastroenterologists, a disease specialist, and finally (FINALLY!) an allergist before we discovered that my love for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and peanut butter cookies and, um, peanut butter on a spoon was getting to him via the milk and causing his allergic reactions.
He carries an Epi pen with him everywhere now. Just in case.
Just this year we embarked on another allergy fueled journey: eliminating gluten to treat my other son’s chronic gastrointestinal issues.
It has been challenging, but totally worth it.
Here are some tips to help you and your family go cold turkey in the face of allergies!
Adjusting to Life with a Food Allergy
1. Get the entire family on board. When we decided to try the gluten free thing for my son, we tried it for ONLY him. It was a total bust. I wound up driving myself crazy making separate meals all day and he just sat around feeling guilty and left out. We lasted one week on the kid-only-gluten-free-plan before we all just embraced it.
2. Prepare your wallet. Eating healthy and avoiding allergens can be costly. Sure there are plenty of ways to make your wallet take less of a hit (I love this blog that helps you make going gluten free affordable), but your budget is just one more thing you will have to adjust in order to buy specialty foods and ingredients that are devoid of the allergens adversely affecting your child. My shoe budget seriously suffered when we started this gluten free journey. I learned to get creative quickly as a result!
3. Prepare your schedule. The first time I went gluten free shopping I was at the grocery store for 2 hours! I had to read labels and consult my phone for recipes and make sure that all of the nut free stuff I usually buy was also gluten free and vice versa. Phew; it was exhausting! I spent hours online before my next foray into the grocery store and had some good snack and mealtime ideas I could snag the ingredients for much more quickly.
4. Focus on the positive. When we learned that we needed to make the gluten free choice, my son felt guilty that all of us had to give up the foods we liked. I let him know how happy I was to make the switch with him because we could all begin to live a healthier lifestyle thanks to him. He likes to take credit for my recent weight loss. And I like to cheat on our diet whenever we eat out.
5. Be an advocate. And make your child one too! We are a family with children who require special consideration at school, parties, and other social events involving food. We realize that, and we make it a point to make adjustments for it. But, we also like to remember that every other family isn’t operating under the same constraints. We don’t expect every person who invites us to a party to have gluten free, nut free cupcakes available. And, our children understand that this isn’t possible or even to be expected. They know to ask before they eat anything (my baby has been asking since he could speak) and they are able to accept that sometimes they won’t be able to enjoy a cupcake with the other kids. It’s part of their life and, as frustrating as it is, we always remind them that they are fortunate that this is their only constraint; some kids have way bigger worries. And then, we take them for ice cream.