Tips for Dealing with Food Allergies

This post is intended for first-time food allergy moms and for anyone who is not a mother to a food allergic child.

Of my son’s food allergies – milk, eggs and peanuts – milk has been the hardest to manage because it hides in so many products on the grocery store shelves. I’ve had to become an expert at reading labels.

It was really hard and overwhelming in the beginning. When he was first diagnosed, he was exclusively breastfed and it was my diet that had to change. I struggled with it. Sometimes I resented that I couldn’t just buy what I wanted to at the grocery store and that a normal shopping trip took twice as long. When I learned that his allergens could hide in medicines, lotions and other products, too, my frustration boiled over.

Two years later, checking labels has become second nature. I have discovered a lot of alternatives to substitute in place of his allergens – and found a support group to deal with my frustrations. His food allergies are now just a part of our everyday. They no longer consume us.

My advice to moms who are just beginning to deal with food allergies is to know that it gets easier. It may seem overwhelming now but it will soon get better. Reach out to other food allergy moms. It really helps knowing other moms who “get it” and can guide you through the dark days.

For anyone who is not a mother to a food allergic tips, I offer these tips:

  1. Read food labels. It only take a few extra seconds to check the ingredient list for the allergens contained in the product. (Note: this applies to the top eight allergens. Companies are not required to list the allergens a product may contain, only the ones that are actually in the product.)
  2. Be compassionate and accommodating towards the child’s special needs. But don’t pity. This child is still a child who wants to be treated normally.
  3. Remember that this is an invisible disease. The face of food allergies could be the kid next door.
  4. Ask if you can help but don’t be surprised (or offended) if your offer is declined. Most food allergy moms prefer to make their child’s food so they know exactly what’s in it but they’ll still appreciate that you care and that you don’t mind if they bring their own food to your child’s birthday party.
  5. Listen and be a friend. Sometimes a food allergy mom just needs to talk.

Are you a food allergy mom? What tips can you share?

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