How we live with food allergies
Some of you may know my oldest boy has allergies to some foods. We found out when he started weaning. Take a read of my blog on how we found out he had serious allergies to all nuts and eggs but here is my story on how we lived and live with these allergies.
It was obvious to not give DS any eggs and nuts. As I was also breastfeeding at the time I had to cut them out of my diet too. We don’t really eat nuts in our food and don’t buy them as snacks except my quick hunger pang fix of peanut butter on toast. We only ate nuts when they were already in meals when we ate out and as we didn’t eat out anymore so it was easy enough to cut nuts out of our diets. I also stopped eating eggs. As soon as I cut out eggs and nuts from my diet, DS’ eczema improved. His skin became baby soft again.
Cutting out eggs from my diet and from DS’ diet was actually harder than I thought it would be. I never realised how many things I ate had eggs in it, in some form or another. Boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, omelettes, quiches, fritata, pancakes, even ice cream! There were also the hidden egg foods such as some pastas, cakes, biscuits, some sweet breads to name but a few. My quick to cook meals significantly reduced in number. This really hit me when I went back to work and had to find new quick after work meals to cook.
There are varying degrees of egg allergies. Some children are only allergic to the egg whites and some are ok with baked eggs where the protein is changed at prolonged high temperatures. My DS was allergic to all of the egg and even to eggs baked at high temperatures. So this ruled out biscuits and cakes. This suited me as I didn’t want DS to be eating lots of biscuits and cakes but actually when his friends around him were eating it I always tried to offer him an egg free alternative. This became more of a situation at nursery when there were birthday celebrations at least every other week. I would bake eggless cakes for him when i knew there was a birthday coming up. The nursery then changed their policy and didn’t allow parents to bring any personal foods in for their child as part of their inclusion policy. They assured me they would have a batch of eggless cakes for DS when a child brought in birthday cakes. There was one occasion that DS grabbed the cake from the boy next to him. It turned out that he didn’t have a cake himself - only a yoghurt. No wonder he wanted to to take his friend’s cake!
When we ate out and on occasions when I didn’t bring a homemade lunches DS’ menu choices were limited. Luckily DS isn’t fussy. There were also times when the message between the waiter and kitchen was not relayed about DS’ allergies and he would come out in a rash around the mouth with the first taste of his meal. If it began to spread quickly we would give him a dose of antihistamine to prevent further reaction. This worked each time we had something he was allergic too. After which our little boy had to wait to eat something else.
When we went to visit family and friends it was so easy for them to forget about the eggs and nuts that may have been prepared in the meals - an egg to bind breadcrumbs, hidden in ice cream, in mayonnaise, satay sauce, walnuts sprinkled on salad. Even though I thought I was really careful assessing ingredients of everything he ate, I still sometimes missed something that DS was allergic to. I felt really awful that I was so careless so I can only empathise and reassure my friends or family who cooked that DS would be ok - which he was. We have been lucky so far that we have not needed to use the adrenaline pens. He has never become hard of breathing. I am quite religious at bringing his medicines with him wherever we go even for short trips when there’s no intention of him eating anything. Even when I leave DS with his grandparents and they reassure me they won’t give him nuts or eggs, and as scary as the thought is and the huge reluctance my parents and my in laws were to using the pens, I taught them how to administer the adrenaline - just in case. I just didn’t want to take any chances of them not knowing. We always carried 2 pens with us and left 2 pens with nursery just in case 1 pen wasn't enough.
The best message I was ever given was to give adrenaline if you think he might need it. Not giving it may cause more harm than not giving it if he was having an allergic reaction.
I hope this hasn’t scared you if your LO has an allergy but I wanted to give a real account of our life with living with allergies. DS has grown out of his egg allergies and enjoys his eggs in all forms including ice cream! He has also grown out of most of his nut allergies except peanuts and walnuts. He will more than likely remain allergic to these for the rest of his life so he has to be careful and carry his adrenaline pens with him.
I have always been open with DS about his allergies, even as a baby, teaching him what he can and cannot eat, why he can’t eat certain foods and what is happening when he has a reaction. He has learnt to ask about things he hasn’t tried before in case there’s anything he’s allergic to. We’ve found not making it a big deal and not making him feel left out is really important and has made living with allergies much easier.