Especially when you are a new food allergy parent, it can seem like you are finally getting a handle on things, and then something else comes up. Like holidays for example. Spring is a time of fun and celebration for a lot of people. Whether you celebrate Passover or Easter, or simply enjoy Spring Break, you might find yourself in some new situations.
Don’t worry, today we have four amazing food allergy bloggers who have agreed to share their best tips about everything from fertilizer to safe Epi-pen storage, and some new ideas for the Easter Bunny. Even when your child has food allergies, you can make the different seasons of life fun and safe.
Our first set of tips is from Asian and nut free food blogger Sharon Wong. As a food allergy mom to children with severe peanut and tree nut allergies, she shares her traditional Chinese family recipes with a twist – allergy safe! She is also both a molecular biologist and has a minor in writing, so is full of fun surprises.
By Sharon Wong
Living with food allergies always require special preparation but even more so when planning celebrations and vacations. I have some simple guidelines that have helped us through the years.
Communicate: Talk with someone about your food allergy concerns.
- Call your allergist if you have any concerns about medications or what’s safe to eat.
- Talk to your friends or family if you’re going to a celebration and offer to bring something allergy safe that everyone can enjoy and discuss any concerns.
- Ask to speak with a restaurant manager during non-peak times if you are dining out during travels or group celebrations and assess how well they can accommodate you.
Prepare: Be ready for anything!
- Always have a plan B and bring extra food in case there are travel delays or if your safe food becomes exposed to cross-contact, etc..
- Fruit that are easy to pack and peel, jerky, snack bars, and other shelf-stable allergy safe snacks are great for last minute situations that might happen.
- Know where is the nearest emergency room and have all prescribed emergency medication available. Bring a backup set if you’re traveling.
Relish: Once you’ve done everything possible to anticipate and respond to food allergy related needs, enjoy your vacation or celebration with loved ones because you’ve already done your best, worry won’t change the outcome except steal your joy. Be on the lookout for compassionate bystanders and remember to say thank you.
Our next tip is not from a food allergy parent, but a food allergy kid! Bryson has peanut allergies, but he doesn’t let that stop him from helping other kids find ways to enjoy food even with their food allergies.
Hi I am Bryson and my best tip is to always read the labels if I am buying something or my mom or somebody gives me something. If there is no wrapper I can’t have it. I always ask ingredients at a restaurant and tell them my allergies too.
Watch a video of Bryson showing you how to make one of his favorite snacks – Ants on a Log
You can also follow Bryson and his Mom on Twitter @allergykid2006
If there is one person who knows about food allergies, it is Jenny Sprague. Mom to two food allergic kids, she is also the creative force behind the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference, known as FAB Con. Every year she brings together food allergy experts, parents, and vendors in one spot to talk about how to better care for our food allergic children.
By Jenny Sprague
As spring approaches and families start heading off to outdoor adventures, here are some helpful reminders for those managing food allergies:
- Remember to bring your epinephrine auto-injectors. And by bring them, I mean, keep them on your person – not in the car! Epinephrine is sensitive to temperature, so it is important that they don’t get too hot, (or too cold!). A car interior can heat up quickly. A study showed that a car’s interior temperature exceeded 125°F and reached a maximum stabilized temperature in 40 minutes. Placing epinephrine injectors in an insulated bag and placing in a cooler can help keep them cool (but not freezing!) on hot days in the park or beach too.
- When venturing to playgrounds or parks, be aware of other children with food. Whether it’s the person feeding peanuts to the squirrels, or the child eating allergen containing snacks and then playing. (Who doesn’t remember packing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and heading to the park?) Bring wipes to clean surfaces, and hands. Encourage children not to touch their faces until you can wash their hands after playing on equipment.
- If you enjoy animal parks, and petting zoos, please be aware that as tempting as it can be to feed the goats, bears, or deer, many of the foods in the dispensers can contain allergens, wheat, dairy, seeds or nuts, etc. An additional risk is an animal who ate an allergen food and licking the child could cause a reaction, if hands are not washed well immediately.
- Spring also means gardening! Please be aware that many fertilizers and potting soils can contain allergens as well! From crushed egg shells, to nuts. For example, “The following Scott products contain Peanuts and/or Tree Nuts. Specific ingredients (e.g. which nuts and % of ingredients) vary by region. Even with the lot number of the packaging, they do not require this information from their suppliers, so they cannot guarantee the allergen contents:
MiracleGro® Moisture Control Potting Mix.
Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix”
Spring is a wonderful season to enjoy but when managing life threatening allergies, a bit of pre-planning, preparing and precaution is advised. Call ahead to venues before heading to them, or manufacturers when using products, carry your epinephrine, wash hands, and wear sunscreen!
Last, but not least, Kaylee Page took a minute to weigh in. She blogs, but not about her food allergy journey with her daughter Bella. Instead, she shares part of that story in her children’s book about FPIES, featuring a cute kitten named Pursey.
By Kaylee Page
Holidays with allergies can be tricky! But they can also be a great excuse to get a little creative and make some new, fun memories. We found that fun colored and crazy patterned socks stuffed perfectly into Easter eggs for a fun burst of surprise.
Read more from Kaylee or check out her children’s book.
If you are a food allergy parent who has been doing this for a while, what tips have been helpful for you? What things caught you by surprise? And for new food allergy parents, what questions do you still have about navigating this time of year with food allergies?