Did you know that 8% of children under the age of 18 are allergic to at least one food? And 40% of kids with food allergies experience severe symptoms.
A food allergy is a condition in which the immune system incorrectly identifies a food as a threat and defends the body from it by releasing chemicals into the blood, and the chemicals cause an allergic reaction.
I was at the park about 7 years ago and I was handing out cookies to all the children like they were a stick of gum. One of my friends stopped me and asked me if the cookies had peanuts in them. I thought they did, but I didn’t know. I have to admit I was kind of annoyed with my friend and started reading the ingredients. Sure enough there was peanuts in them. She told me her 3 year old was allergic to peanuts and he couldn’t eat them. She also asked if I would put them away. I was secretly annoyed and thought to myself how do adults and kids have all these allergies. When we were kids we had no allergies. Now everyone has allergies.
I was so wrong for thinking this way.
Food allergies are no joke.
5 years ago my daughter was born and she was pretty much allergic to everything. All nuts, dairy, and eggs. She had a huge rash all over her face and bottom and sometimes on her belly. I had to stop breast feeding her and started buying her a formula online called Ellacare. It was so expensive and our insurance would not cover it because it was considered food. We called it Hellacare because it was so expensive. At one year she grew out of the dairy and egg allergy and to this day she still is allergic to all nuts. It was really hard for our families to get used to. They couldn’t leave anything out because Lyla was so young she was just learning she couldn’t eat nuts.
I remember when she was 2 and someone gave her a piece of candy. She looked at our friend and said, “Peanuts?” they looked and sure enough there was peanuts in it. She then went on to tell them if she ate peanuts she would die. Her brutal honesty made us all laugh, but in reality it was no laughing matter. She had to learn at a young age not to eat nuts.
TIPS TO KEEP YOUR KIDS SAFE FROM FOOD ALLERGIES
1. Put a label on your kids
Educate yourself, your friends and, most importantly, your child. Read books, blogs, and magazine articles. Tell your children that if they are at a party or school to tell an adult “I am allergic and I can’t eat food” this is so important to teach your children as soon as they can speak. If they can’t speak, these stickers from kidscanhavefun.com are amazing to pin onto your child at a party or school.
I know that this sounds extreme but pin this on your child for the first month of pre-school, church, and new babysitters as a reminder. It really helps and is better then a note.
You can print the labels here
2. Always Carry an Epi Pen.
We travel a lot so we always make sure we never leave home with out an Epi- pen.
When you get the Epi Pens from the pharmacy they come with a training device. We have taught our babysitters and close friends how to use them so they are used properly.
We have luckily never had to use one on our daughter. She has been given peanuts on accident and she has been able to throw them up, and we have used the nebulizer to help her breathe properly after the allergic reaction. We keep an eye on her to make sure her breathing is okay. It is scary but we know exactly what to do when she has an allergy attack.
3. Know the symptoms
-Shortness of Breath
-Increased heart rate
Did you know that the most common food allergies are
4. Read the Labels
I have become the queen of reading labels. Sometimes they are tricky but if you always read at the very bottom of the ingredients it says in bold letters: May contain or contains… Or made on equipment shared with… as read on the label above.
Don’t care what people think. Who cares if you are being rude? You are trying to protect your children. That friend all those years ago taught me a valuable lesson. Just because your child doesn’t have allergies it doesn’t mean you can’t be sensitive towards others. My best friend makes the best peanut butter desserts. She never makes them when my daughter is around. She is very respectful and understands it is a scary situation.
5. Train your friends and sitters how to take care of your children if they have an allergy attack
Leave your babysitter or friends important information so they can always be prepared and not scared.
We also train them how to use the Epi-pen with the training device
Most importantly, we tell them to contact us or 911.
There are so many food companies that are are trying to help the cause I got these items at Trader Joes. I also love Sun Butter it is peanut free and a great substitute for peanut butter.
I am not a doctor and I am definitely not an expert on children with allergies. I am a mother who has a child with allergies. I am hoping with Halloween and the holidays coming up that this will help educate people that allergies are very serious and not a joke.
Do your children have food allergies?
What tips do you have to help other parents?