It seems more and more kids are showing up with food allergies. What’s a mom to do? Here are a few suggestions to navigate the sometimes scary route to keeping kids healthy and happy. It’ll help us moms to feel a little better too!
Be alert to signs and symptoms that your child may have a food allergy. This may take the form of a slight tummy ache and mushroom to changes in color or breathing. It’s important to remember that children can develop allergies as they grow up and just because they didn’t have it before, does not mean they don’t have it now.
Talk with your child using age-appropriate explanations so they know what foods are “safe” and “unsafe” for them. You can tell them about the effects, limitations, and alternatives to the foods that affect them.
Let them know that they are part of a team whose goal is to make sure they feel good. That team includes the people that they can accept food from and those they can go to for help if they don’t feel well.
Involve your child in grocery shopping and reading food labels, making meals and choosing the right ingredients or packing medication when leaving the house.
- Share and swap ideas with other parents since two or more heads are better than one. There are ideas that they may have thought of which gives you a shortcut to success. For example, depending on the type of allergy, substitute potato starch or almond flour when baking cookies.
- Whenever possible: pack a healthy and safe alternative with your child to take along with him/her whether to school, on playdates or a kids’ party. An example is providing Rice Krispies versus cupcakes as a peanut, nut, egg, and wheat-free treat substitute. This way, it reinforces good habits in your child, they feel a part of vs different to their peer group. It also encourages them to see themselves as having some control over their well-being.
- Make others a part of your Keep Safe community. Don’t be hesitant to include and inform, for example, your childcare, the teacher and school nurse, the host of the kids’ party or the restaurant server and chef. FARE/ Food Allergy Research and Education even suggest a written food allergy management plan at school for kids with severe allergies. People like to help especially if they have an understanding and direction of how to help.
FARE/Food Allergy Research and Education: Talking to Children about their Allergies.
FARE/Food Allergy Research and Education: Essential Resources and Tips for Parents.
Jennifer Marko: One Mom’s Tips for Dealing with Food Allergies. Florida Blue Blog. May, 2017