Overwhelmed with your child’s food allergy diagnosis? These 7 tips will help!
This post is part of the Dear Mom Letters series.
Last week I wrote a letter to moms of kids with food allergies. Among my family of 5, we deal with gluten, dairy, egg and tree nut allergies. I feel your pain, Mama. I really do.
Today I’ve decided to give 7 tips for moms of kids with food allergies.
I wanted to take the inspirational to the practical level. Especially for you newbies, I know life with food allergies can be utterly overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems.
Two years into this food-allergy-mom gig,
here are my tips for moms of kids with food allergies:
1. Make a list of the foods your child can eat.
This list will help you look on the positive. Even if it’s just one food–it’s one food he can consume that will nourish his little body. Try to focus on the positive and forget about the negative.
Not sure where to start? This baby food allergy site is very helpful.
2. Check out food allergy blogs.
Most of these are run by mamas who have been in your shoes; most of them still are in your shoes!
Some of my favorite food-allergy focused blogs include:
Chocolate Covered Katie: This is a healthy desserts blog, but she used to be vegan, so a LOT of her recipes are dairy free, and most of them are gluten-free as well. She includes subs for a lot of the major allergens.
In addition, know that most of the recipes I post on this blog are gluten, egg, dairy and tree nut- free. You can browse my Recipe Index here.
3. Meal plan.
I won’t pretend that this won’t be one of the most frustrating parts of your week–at least until you get the hang of things. Making that list I suggested in tip #1–and adding to it specific meals and not just foods–will be crucial to meal planning success.
Here’s a post with meal planning tips to help you get started. A really great meal planning resource for ANY homemaker is Stephanie Langford’s Plan It, Don’t Panic.
4. Always keep on hand quick, portable snacks your kids can eat.
You don’t want to get stuck somewhere with a hungry child and nothing to feed him or her because there is no store nearby that sells what he can eat. I like to keep rice cakes or rice crackers on hand. Fresh fruit–as long as it won’t spoil!–is an excellent choice. Here’s a list of 101 healthy snack ideas (many of which are portable!)
5. Keep some special treats for your child in the freezer.
I like to keep this garbanzo bean chocolate cake, which is gluten, dairy, egg and tree nut free, made up into cupcakes. They are always ready to be thawed out any time my girls are invited to a birthday party or other special celebration. I just have to whip up a quick batch of dairy-free cake icing to top them–or, sometimes, I just sprinkle them with some dairy-free chocolate chips.
6. Notify your child’s preschool, school, church nursery or other activity-group leaders of your child’s allergy.
This is crucial. I cannot emphasize it enough! I have heard too many horror stories of children accidentally ingesting an allergen-food while at school or church.
It would be nice if all of these groups would provide allergy-free snacks, but very few have the resources to do so. Be prepared, and send your child with his own snack.
We also send our gluten-free girl with her own playdough, as commercial playdough contains gluten.
7. Join an Allergy-Friendly Support Group.
These groups are popping up all over Facebook, and there are even some areas with real-life meet-ups! I think it’s really helped me not to feel alone to have some friends–both online and in person–who also have children with food allergies. We share recipes and just serve as listening ears for each other.
Lastly, don’t forget to pray. I sometimes forget that God has all the answers–even when I feel like there are none! Take your burdens to Him and be enveloped in His grace, even in the midst of difficult circumstances–like while dealing with food allergies.
I’m not going to pretend that I don’t experience both fear and frustration about food allergies on a regular basis. I do. Prayer helps.
Taylor @ Mama Java
These are great tips! I also recommend finding a restaurant that does have allergy options. In our case, we discovered that Mellow Mushroom had dairy free pizza, so our son can eat a slice and not feel left out. It’s little things that make a huge difference.
Great tips! My sister-in-law thinks I’m the super prepared type of mom because I always have snacks with me when we go places, but it’s because of my child’s food allergies! I don’t want to be stuck with nothing that he can eat, especially since he’s only 2! Two year olds just don’t understand this very well, and it’s hard to explain why he can’t eat the same foods as other children around him. I always think we have it rough with scary nut allergies, but it’s much easier to avoid nuts than it is to avoid gluten, egg, and dairy. And yes, prayer is essential. I keep reminding myself that the same God who preserved my child’s life when he had lung surgery as a newborn can protect him from life-threatening food allergies.
I commend all parents that are dealing with serious food allergies – I know it’s not easy. As a parent of a child without food allergies, I am always a little sad to see the child that can’t have the same treats as the other children. Good luck to you all and I’m hoping your kids outgrow their allergies one day – my little cousins are now outgrowing their allergy to eggs – hooray!!!
Jessica @ redeeming the home
My daughter is allergic to wheat, oats, corn, dairy and peanuts. Something that keeps me sane is making all our family meals allergy friendly. Occasionally, I’ll separate hers (like if there is cheese involved–ie. pizza). But for the most part, it’s a family thing, it’s safe for her. Then I’m not making two meals every night!
(Oh, and I keep allergy free cupcakes in the freezer, too! Perfect for party invites :))
Just found your site and so far this is the only page I have read.. LOVE it. I have dealt with food allergies for several years. My daughter was tested at age 1 and was allergic to dairy, soy, oat, egg, and fish. I did many of your suggestions. I also found that laminating a page for the fridge helped tremendously as well. I had a page of foods she CAN eat and foods she CAN NOT eat. Many foods were specific to brands. When family and friends came over, they would stand there and read it because it was on the fridge. I laminated it so it lasted a long time. I took it with her if she stayed over night somewhere. I found that family functions were the hardest.. extended family didn’t understand what ‘food allergy’ meant so when she was to little to tell them or refuse foods, I made a shirt. I used iron on printer paper and put ‘Please don’t feed me, no matter how cute I am, i have food allergies’.. thankfully none of them were life threatening and she grew out of them at age 5 but it was still a big learning curve for us. I am now GF and mostly DF so we still have to watch… Looking forward to reading more of your blog and your FB page
I think the shirt is an awesome idea! I may have to do that for my 2 year old. She is allergic to dairy, egg, oat, peanuts and tree nuts. The laminated pages is also a great idea. My child also has SPD and doesn’t eat much yet, but if we can change that, the frozen cupcakes will be terrific too! Thanks for all the tips ladies!
I had to leave my daughter alone with my in-laws for about 2 days almost a year ago. It was scary because I don’t think anyone truly understands food allergies until you are directly involved in picking out the foods they can eat. One of the things I did to make it easier for them was label the foods in the house with stickers. Green stickers meant GO. Red meant STOP or NO. I used the round stickers you see at garage sales. I also put a binder together that listed her most liked foods (with lots of pictures), emergency contacts, and placed it beside the epipens. The plus side was they had a much better understanding when they left so I won’t be as nervous when visiting with them again.