Guest post by Sarah of Early Bird Mom
In yesterday’s post, Sarah wrote about how she discovered that her son’s skin problems were related to severe food allergies. Today she shares what she learned about food allergies through the process.
Since the doctor had told me my son could eat anything not on his list of allergens, I decided to give him some cow’s milk. It dripped out of his sippy cup onto his skin and he had instant swelling and itching.
Who knew that cow’s milk could cause such a reaction? I certainly didn’t. Thankfully it subsided after a dose of Benadryl (and a panicked call to the doctor). I added dairy to the list of allergens. A couple weeks later, we tried eggs – same awful result – itchy face and scratchy throat.
I have since learned that allergy testing doesn’t reveal every allergy, especially in babies.
My baby’s list of allergens grew to include tree nut, coconut and barley. Hmm – that explains why my homemade coconut oil lotion didn’t help him. Tomatoes seemed to bother him. Ditto for citrus.
Continued trial and error in identifying his food allergens.
We stumbled along, making many mistakes and learning tons about food. Have you ever noticed how many things are made from corn? It’s everywhere! I spent tremendous amounts of time experimenting with allergen-free recipes trying to find things my little man could safely eat.
I have always loved baking and it was so difficult keeping him (and myself since I was breastfeeding) away from the treats I made for the other kids. Thankfully there are many excellent cookbooks available now that show how to cook without exposure to allergens. (One of my favorites is the Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook.)
Healing from food allergies.
My son is now 2 ½ years old. He weaned at the end of last year (such a celebration for me!) and he has since outgrown his dairy and corn allergies. I am hopeful that he will outgrow the rest of his allergies in time. In the meantime, he has lots of homemade things he can safely eat. He is used to not having the same things as the other kids. We always make sure to have a safe substitute for him.
Lessons I learned about food allergies:
1. Just because you’ve never had food allergies in your family doesn’t mean they won’t crop up.
None of my 3 older boys have any food allergies.
2. Food allergies truly can be life-threatening.
Fortunately, my son has never had a life-threatening reaction, but we are prepared should that happen.
3. Allergic reactions can occur as respiratory problems, rashes, hives, swelling, digestive problems or vomiting.
4. Peanuts aren’t the only serious food allergy.
Kids can have a severe reaction to any allergen. Initially milk and eggs were quite severe for my son.
5. Reactions can be immediate or they can be delayed up to several hours.
Just because a person doesn’t react immediately doesn’t mean he is out of danger.
6. Keeping a child safe from allergens goes beyond what he puts into his mouth.
Exposure can also occur from cross-contamination. No more double-dipping serving spoons. Kitchen sponges and washcloths need to be changed frequently. Since my son has so many allergens, we have chosen not to eliminate all of them from the house and therefore, we have to be very careful about cleaning up after using eggs, nuts, etc.
7. Allergens should be avoided in non-food products too, like lotions, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.
Having a child with food allergies is a scary thing, but over time it does get easier.
And every time I see my son enjoying one of his favorite foods, I am so grateful that he is no longer suffering those horrible reactions. I thank God that he is able to safely eat so many things.
What’s one thing you wish you could tell people about food allergies that they might not know?
Resources and Further Reading:
Enjoy Life Foods has a line of snacks and treats free of the top 8 allergens
Sarah Mueller is a wife and homeschool mom to 4 boys. She writes at Early Bird Mom about how you can afford a healthy lifestyle while living beneath your means.