Mummy Confession: This is my first official holiday season as a mum of a child with known food allergies (and also being on an elimination diet myself of foods that he is allergic to).
I’m not feeling very good with words at the moment, but I hope this gets across a little of the anxiety I’m feeling as this season’s festivities start rolling in as a mum to a child with food allergies. I never thought I would have to be the one to be so aware of everything, and I ‘m still learning.
I know this holiday season will have a lot of food, treats, and such being passed around. My anxiety is up a notch this year as I navigate the new world of having a child with food allergies (and the elimination diet I am on myself). Currently, we are both avoiding anything with milk, egg, nuts, and white fish, which knocks out a lot of common holiday treats. I’ve cried in the aisles of the grocery store this year as I try to manage figuring out things we can both eat and enjoy (and selfishly, I miss those dairy and egg laden recipes).
My child may not have a “bad” allergic reaction, but it is a reaction that lasts for days, and sometimes even weeks (even after given his medicine and creams). And as many mums of children with food allergies know, an anaphylactic reaction is never out of the range of possibilities. This can be stressful for me as his mum, especially around the holiday season.
There is so much going on around, and I wanted to just ask you to please help me keep my baby safe this season. These things will help me and him to have a much happier holiday, and time together with family and friends, which I know we would all love to enjoy!
Firstly, please don’t be afraid to ask about the foods he is allowed to eat!
There are often hidden ingredients in the foods we eat, or snacks, and it is better to ask than to regret it later! Reading the ingredient label does help, but with food allergies they can be a bit illusive, too. There are helpful fact sheets that have helped me to figure out which foods my child can and cannot have, and if you want to see them, check them out here. I still carry them with me at times! He loves to try things that he sees others eating, but even a bite could cause him to react, and he will be miserable for the rest of the day and sometimes longer.
Next, if you feel he may have gotten something he is allergic to or you think he is having a reaction, tell me straight away!
Even if you’re unsure, I would rather be safe and watch for allergic reactions, than not know something was possibly happening. The signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction are here should you need the list (click here). I will need to follow his action plan should he start to react, and it’s always best to have a clue when something might be going on.
Also, please just be aware of where your food or drinks are.
As he is just a toddler, he tends to go for anything within his reach (and sometimes can be crafty and uses chairs and other things to reach areas we thought were well away from his little hands). Again, if he gets something, tell me. I’m not going to be upset, but I need to know what’s happening.
Since these days he can get himself into some trouble, I need extra eyes and hands, and I really appreciate you helping lower my stress levels a little bit.
Also, with a note to the fact that I myself cannot eat the things he is allergic to, please please don’t be offended we’re not eating your food. I honestly and truly love everything with dairy in it, and it has been the hardest thing to keep away from, but I can’t indulge myself because it will hurt him later. I’ve seen the effect of “just one thing” last for too long as I fight an itchy baby to sleep again and again. I’m not on a diet for personal reasons, I’m on a diet for his health.
I know I may be looked at as the nutcase of the family now, not allowing myself to eat the range of things in hopes it will help, but it has seemed to make a difference. I would rather him be healthy and happy than itchy and miserable.
For more information on managing food allergies this holiday season (as a parent, host, or just someone who is partying, check out this helpful piece from Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia here.)