We’ve all heard about it: allergies are on the rise. If you have children in school, you’re likely familiar with the precautions. Most classrooms ban peanuts and tree nuts outright – and sometimes other foods, too, if a child in the class is severely allergic. While it’s certainly inconvenient to not just be able to pack your kids off with a PB&J in the morning, this inconvenience pales compared to the issues that parents of severely allergic children face. We recently connected with some Vancouver moms of kids with allergies, to hear their stories. We’re pleased to be able to share them with you today in our latest You Say feature.
You Say: Living With Food Allergies
We don’t take things like birthday parties, play dates, or family dinners for granted. If we find it’s too big of a gathering, or if it’s pot luck style, we will often not attend. We want Brian to be safe, and by attending things where people aren’t aware we’re putting his life in danger. We always carry or have two Epi-Pens wherever we go, and Benadryl in case he gets hives from contact. We make most things from scratch but are pleased to see more companies aware of allergies. When we go to restaurants (which is rare – the only one we are comfortable with is the Keg) we talk to both the manager and the chef about their allergy protocol, ingredients in their menu…it was a real learning curve but we have found our groove. And he never shares his food, or takes from others because even he is aware and scared to eat something that he will need “a shot” for.
Ainslee’s life threatening allergies were discovered at such an early age we have never known a different way of life. That being said, our daily life is significantly impacted. One big difference is our choice to home school her. We cannot tell an entire class or school to ban dairy like they have done with peanuts and tree nuts. Every store bought packaged food label is read three times: once at the grocery store, once when we bring it home from the store and once again before we feed it to her. Every time we leave the house we must bring our Epi-Pen just in case of an accidental exposure. Every single meal has to has to be carefully planned out, especially when we visit friends for dinner or go out to a restaurant. In fact we only regularly visit three restaurants that we know will take the extra effort to not cross contaminate her food.
One of the biggest stresses for my daughter is being alienated at birthday parties and group outings. Eating in groups is such a social activity, it’s hard for a child to be “different” everyday. We do not get to do simple family outings like fish and chips or ice cream at the beach. Even items like soaps, shampoos and toothpaste have to be carefully researched as dairy, peanuts and tree nuts are in the strangest things! She has had one child “bully” her and make fun of her allergies and it really hurt her feelings, but for the most part when people are educated on the seriousness of life threatening food allergies they are very supportive. The number one way I keep Ainslee safe is to educate her on her allergies and teach her to read every label and not take any chances with food.
My son has been Epi-Pened four times. The last time he got a drip of his sister’s ice cream cone on his hand, panicked and rubbed his eye. His whole face blew up like a balloon in the IKEA parking lot.
This affects our everyday family life. We have five kids total and I am a Celiac. When I bake, it is all egg/dairy/nut/gluten free. This is the only way to keep him safe. He also has severe asthma, and ezcema. I did not know this before but food allergies, asthma, and ezcema all feed off each other! When my son goes to a birthday party, I pre-pack his food/cake for him. I do not trust him to ever eat “buffet” style outside the house. I also do not expect other friends and family to know the total realm of the allergy world. At his preschool, they were able to apply for extra funding to have an extra teacher on staff for his days to wipe down surfaces/watch out for him. We have taught him well about it, and he handles it pretty well when he sees other kids having treats that he can’t have.
I used to be terrified of his food allergies. I’ve had three and a half years to get used to them. I’m okay now.
We’d like to thank Shona-Ruth, Shelly Lynn and Carolyn for taking the time to share their experiences. We hope it sheds a little light on why food restrictions are so important, when they protect the lives of kids with serious allergies.
This article was sponsored by Monkey Toast. Nut and dairy free, fruit first, organic Canadian whole wheat and delicious are some of the words that describe Monkey Toast. The food line was developed by Dale Ferris for clients with severe nut allergies. Dale gives back to a Vancouver inner city schools by supplying Monkey Toast for its recess snack program. Monkey Toast has four flavours to delight everyone from toddlers to grandparents. On its own, with a glass of (rice) milk, with some hummus or with a glass of wine, Monkey Toast has a place in everyone’s busy day. The full flavour of fruit leather with the benefits of natural fibre keep big and little monkeys swinging back for more.
Munch on, Monkeys. Munch on. … No monkeys were harmed in the making of this product.