Latest posts by Lyndsay Edwards (see all)
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Dear Friends & Family Of Food Allergy Parents
Dear friends & family of an allergy parent,
The moment I realised something wasn’t right with my baby I was petrified. Being a parent was new, scary and exciting for me but then becoming an allergy parent was even scarier! Every time we see our GP he has no idea what’s going on or why and it’s been like this from day one. We have to fight for formulas, referrals to specialists and different medications to help with various symptoms. We have to go over and over everything each time we go to the doctors, pediatrician, dietitian and gastroenterologist. Being an allergy parent is truly exhausting without having to remember every detail of every symptom, what was eaten at what time and then to repeat this to various medical professionals over and over again to feel like I am getting nowhere.
So you see when you ask me ”So what happens if he has milk?” The last thing I want to do is explain the various symptoms because i’m exhausted. I’ve already gone over and over it and tried my hardest to keep a food/symptom diary and failed miserably, because I’m too tired to remember to write everything down. I answer your question though because you are showing an interest and I know that you genuinely care but when you follow my answer with ”**insert name** is also lactose intolerant” I feel like punching you in the face! Of course I don’t because I am not a violent person and I do not condone violence. I also understand that you just don’t know what else to say and you probably don’t understand that lactose intolerance and cow’s milk protein allergy are not the same but you can read an explanation of the difference between to the two here.
”Will he grow out of it?”
Each and every day revolves around food for us. Shopping takes much longer because we have to stop and read every single food label to make sure it’s safe. We then have to become a judge and decide whether or not to risk a food labelled as a ‘may contain milk’. We have to make a packed lunch every time we leave the house just in case we’re not back in time for our next meal. We can’t just simply pop in somewhere and order what ever we fancy off the menu as they might not have any safe foods on the menu for us. Food is not something we take for granted anymore so everyday I hope and pray my son will grow out of his allergies as some children do, but some don’t.
So to answer your question which I have been asked over 100 times already..
I do not know !!!
”**Insert name here** was allergic to milk but they’re fine now”
That’s great ! I love hearing that someone has outgrown their allergy, it’s great for them and their family. It gives the rest of us hope but just remember at this time my child’s allergies are still very real and happening. His allergies could also get worse so it’s important that you remember to take them seriously. There are various tests and food challenges which are done under the supervision of medical professionals to see if the allergy or intolerance has been ‘outgrown’ so once we’ve passed the food challenges and are allergy free we’ll be sure to let you and everyone else know.
”A little bit won’t hurt”
When you ask me if my child can have a certain food and I say no then politely remind you that he is allergic and you reply with ‘but a little bit won’t hurt’. Please understand that a little bit can and will hurt him ! I have to say no to certain foods, not because I am mean or I want my child to miss out but because I want my child to be safe and well. It upsets me daily to think my child isn’t free to enjoy any foods he may want to. Your comment only reminds me how much a certain food does hurt him and this makes me sad. Some people have anaphylactic reactions to foods which are labelled as a may contain, so you see a little can and will hurt some people.
When you invite us to your child’s party..
We love that you invited us so thank you! We have to presume that most if not all of the party food is unsafe for us. We will have to bring our own party food to eat. We don’t want to have to bring our own food, we would love nothing more than to be able to rock up at the party and enjoy the lovely spread of food you put so much effort into, but we just can’t take that risk. You see bringing our own food isn’t because we don’t think yours is good enough or because we want to offend you, it’s purely because I want my child to be safe. When you check the packaging of a certain food item and tell me it’s safe, I really appreciate this and I love that you would take the time to check if my son can join in with your lovely party food. Unfortunately we have to politely decline due to cross contamination risks. Yes I know you think this may be over the top and I could be over reacting here? Cross contamination whattttt?????
So let me explain.. When you first lay out the buffet it looks fabulous, every food item is grouped together and has it’s own perfect place on the table and on separate platters. That is until 20 or so hungry children are let loose on this incredible buffet you created. Now there is food everywhere, different sandwich’s are mixed up onto different platters and crumbs of various foods all over the show.. I think you see where I am going with this but the point is a food that may have been safe has now come into contact with a food that isn’t safe for us and yes my child’s allergies are that serious !! Believe me if they wasn’t I wouldn’t be up until the early hours the night before any party he has, baking his own special cupcake just so he won’t feel left out when all the other children are enjoying their cake at the party.
When my son is eating at the party and you try and talk to me..
So I made my child his own party food and brought it with us so what’s the problem? Well now I have to watch him like a hawk ! Children like to share food and why shouldn’t they? My son is also at the age where he will pick everything up and put it straight into his mouth. So while my child now has his plate of safe foods to enjoy, I literally can not take my eyes off him or the children around him. Just in case he picks up someone else’s food or another child kindly wants to share their food with him. So you see while you may find this a perfect opportunity to catch up and have a little chat with me, I am currently sweating with fear and trying to concentrate on my child and the children around him. I don’t want to come across rude and ignorant so I try my best to engage in the conversation you so politely started but please understand my child’s safety will always come first. If I seem to not be listening to you then it’s because I am an allergy parent who has to watch my child like a hawk around food to ensure he stays safe. Please don’t feel like you can’t talk to me at parties or any social gatherings as you absolutely can. The last thing we want is to feel left out, we already feel different! You just need to be a little patient with us during the buffet time 🙂
Please just try to understand that when there is food everywhere I am anxious and frightened for my child’s safety but we want to join in as much as possible. When you ask me questions I find irritating or make passing comments which upset me, I’ll do my best to be patient with you but please be patient with us too, especially when there is food EVERYWHERE!!!!!!
An Allergy Parent!
Recently I have received a lot of questions on our Facebook page and I think it would be great if we can share our questions about cow’s milk protein allergy and support each other on this journey so, I have created a group on Facebook so we all have somewhere we can discuss and support each other in regards to living with cow’s milk protein allergy. Please take the time to read the group description. It is a closed group so, only members can see and reply to posts.
If you are ever unsure as to what to say to an allergy parent, here’s a few ideas…
Is there anything I can do to help? – Of course you can’t take the allergy away but you can help with food shopping or researching on the internet which is much more helpful than telling us you know someone else with an allergy.
I am always here to listen – Having someone to off load to is so important and helpful. You may not know anything about allergies and you don’t have to, just listening to us will help us.
I don’t know what to say, but i’m here for you – Being honest about not knowing what to say is much better than just saying anything which may not be helpful and could even be offensive.
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Hand these allergy cards to the chef in restaurants so they can make sure your meal is allergy free.