Living with Food Allergies

I have gone back and forth about whether to post about this. Actually…I think I’ve “written” about seven different versions of this article in my head. It’s an issue that is pretty close to my heart and that I can’t spin positively as much as I would like to.

 

I finally came to the conclusion that if I’m thinking about it this much, then it’s meant to be written.

I don’t want this article to come off as complaining, but rather informative (and maybe a bit cathartic for me). I think there are a lot of people who don’t understand food allergies. I was one of those people just a year ago. With the rise of reported cases worldwide, it’s not something that we as society can afford to be ignorant about. There is definitely more awareness than years past, but I want to add to that awareness.  My goal is to help de-bunk misconceptions and hopefully help those who don’t deal with this issue day to day, to better understand those who do, in meaningful, actionable ways.

If you are a regular reader, then you know that my daughter, who is now 18 months old, has several food allergies. (the pictures in this post though. are mostly of her having solids for the first time…before I never knew any of this would be apart of our life, plus few more random baby pictures)

She is severely allergic to all dairy, eggs, and peanuts, plus a few others that are less severe.
How allergic? That’s the question I get all. the. time. Food allergies look different for everyone. They can range from extreme like going into anaphylactic shock after simply smelling peanuts to something as mild as a stomach ache or a small rash after ingesting an offending food. Natalie has so far had reactions kind of in the between area: vomiting, diarrhea, hives all over her body, loss of appetite, and one case of wheezing. She is contact allergic as well and cannot have foods that may contain traces of the foods she is allergic to.
Since this topic is usually so question driven I’m going to put this into a Q&A format.
Q: Has she had anaphylaxis? Isn’t it not really a true food allergy unless she has an anaphylactic reaction?
No. She has not had a true anaphylactic reaction that required hospitalization and no that doesn’t mean she doesn’t really have food allergies. The closest we have gotten is one wheezing episode that was taken care of with an oral steroid, thank goodness. I feel so blessed that it hasn’t gone further than that yet. And that’s the worrisome aspect of having a child with a food allergy…is the yet. They may never have a life threatening reaction or it may be that it is simply yet to come and likely when you least suspect it.

I had a hard time believing the smelling reactions I had heard about, until we were on an airplane and the flight attendants passed out croissants. The buttery smell filled the air, and my daughter immediately broke out in hives. I administered Benadryl and all was fine after that, but it surprised me that she would have a reaction even though she didn’t come in direct contact with anything that would harm her. I am sure the recirculated air contributed to the reaction and if you consider tiny food particles “ingested” through the airways as direct contact, then it makes more sense.

Most of my daughter’s allergies have been confirmed by blood test and food challenge (she has eaten them and had a reaction). Some allergy tests can give false positives, so a true allergy is usually determined when two different kinds of tests yield the same results. Allergy tests are not a perfect science. She seems to be allergic to stone fruit and melon because she develops hives when touching them, but we haven’t had her blood tested for it. It is possible that she might just have skin sensitivities to those foods, but be fine with ingesting it. We plan on getting her tested again at her 2nd birthday. Even for allergists, this whole process takes a lot of educated guessing, but it doesn’t make it any less real.To prove this point, you can read THIS post from a fellow allergy mom about how her son had a false negative test and then an anaphylatic reaction.

Q. What are food allergies?

So, I am not going to get completely scientific or medical here, because I am not a medical professional or an expert. I simply know what I know. This is the way I understand it..basically, allergies are an immune response. An allergic reaction is an over reaction of the immune system to something that is not really a threat to the body. The allergic person has simply developed a sensitivity to that thing or those things and in response the body can over-react in the form of rejecting the offending food or go even as far as shutting down and dying.
There are recent studies that strongly suggest, that there are some babies with sensitive immune systems and eczema who can develop an allergy to food even before they ingest it, simply through skin contact. For example, if you eat a bowl of ice cream, and then hold your baby; your baby, if he/she has a sensitive immune system and eczema, could develop an allergy to dairy. I don’t think it is a perfect explanation for all food allergies, but it is an interesting, and tested theory. You can read more about it HERE.
Q. How did she develop food allergies?
This question comes up in a lot of forms. Sadly, sometimes in judgmental and non-helpful ways…I have run into people who blame me for not breastfeeding long enough (I weaned her at 8 months), maybe I ate too much junk food when I was pregnant, maybe I kept our environment too sterile and clean when she was a baby. Others postulate about how our food as a whole has turned into Frankenfood versions of what they used to be. I have thought all of those same thoughts as well, including the Frankenfood theory :). The reality though is, that her allergies are likely genetic. We have several extended family members with similar food sensitives and/or allergies.

I don’t know if this is the case with every person that has food allergies, but it seems to be the most logical explanation for my daughter.

Q. Will she grow out of it?

This is probably the most asked question… or phrase, that people say to reassure me that the challenges we face will not last forever. The answer? We don’t really know. Time will tell. Our allergist, has given us general percentages of her chances so that we can have some idea of what to expect. If we go off those chances, she will likely grow out of all of the allergies except for peanuts by the time she starts first grade. But, the truth is, we really don’t know how things will pan out. She could be the minority that never grows out of anything, or she could be the minority that will grow out of peanut allergies by middle school. We just don’t know.
Thinking about her growing out of it, has actually been one of my biggest hindrances to making the lifestyle adjustments this kind of condition requires. I am still working through it to some degree, but I am learning to accept that this is apart of who my daughter is, just as much as her fair skin and her green eyes. She was born with it and we should accept it, instead of trying to placate it away with empty words about someday because the changes you have to make when you are around her are in inconvenient. Like her eye color may change one day, her allergies may as well, but I choose to love and accept every bit of her as she is now, in every moment.

Q. Don’t you think you are over-reacting? In other words, do I consider myself a helicopter parent?

Ha! Yes, probably and also not yes. :)
In a sense, these foods are a poison to my child and these “poisons” happen to be almost everywhere we go. The fact that they are not poison to other people makes it even more difficult to protect her, because they touch it freely and spread it around. AND…because it is not a poison to them many people don’t understand that what they are doing is harming my child, or worse yet, they refuse to believe it could harm her.
See what I mean?
So, no, I do not believe I am not over-reacting, because I am my daughter’s only advocate right now. It is my duty to protect her from that poison the best I can. I even have to protect her from herself until she is old enough to understand. And believe me, it’s exhausting.

Partly because of her allergies, she is also very skinny for her age and height. When she has an allergic reaction, she vomits up essential calories and has a diminished appetite for the rest of the day. And this is where the over-reacting mama bear in me comes out. Yes, it’s not the end of the world if she has a reaction, but in my worrying mommy mind, it feels like it in that moment. All the worries of will this reaction, be the reaction that gives me cause to use the epi-pen and call 911, coupled with, oh no, she is not gaining enough weight, will this affect her development and her health?? ???

All diplomacy and manners fly out the window and my first and foremost goal is my daughter’s safety and comfort.

Q. Don’t you ever get tired of all this?

Yes, yes, and yes.
It’s hard to live with it day to day out in the world with other people who don’t understand or sympathize.

It’s hard to have to make all my kids leave the playground because another child brought gold fish and is scattering them all over the place while my allergic child wants to touch and eat the dropped goodies. If you have ever tried to keep a toddler from treats they aren’t supposed to have, you know what I mean. It’s easier for us to just leave and go somewhere else, but it’s a bummer as well. But really, it’s no one’s fault. The snack toting child and his mother are not doing anything wrong. It just is, what it is.

It’s hard not going to some social functions and turning down invitations to dinner, because the thought of trying to explain and then manage the whole allergy situation while there, is exhausting and sometimes impossible.
It’s hard to have to stretch our food budget to accommodate the more expensive food she requires to have a balanced and calorie dense diet (remember she is small for her age). It’s hard to think about what school will be like for her. I try not to think about it for now.
Note: You can see a mild version of her eczema on her face in the picture below, out of respect for her I wouldn’t dare put her worst pictures on here, but imagine that ten times worse over most of her body.

Now…I know, there are WAY worse challenges to be experienced. I am not trying to say woe is me, first world problems are the pits. ;) But, I think the point is that food allergies are a real condition that require major life style changes.  If you just found out that your child has a food allergy, I say, expect it to be a big adjustment and embrace all the changes that need to come with it.

The take away message…
I believe most people are well meaning and they want to help.

Here are some things that really do help:

1. Respect that food allergies are real and that every individual experiences food allergies in different ways. Always ask a child’s caregiver about foods you want to give the child. Please don’t shrug it off as something that someone is overreacting about or making up. Your negligence could cost someone their comfort and even their life.
2. Wash your hands after eating offending foods. When in doubt, wash. Look at it this way, if don’t, you are sacrificing a child’s comfort and safety for your convenience.
3. If you are in charge of bringing food to a class party, or if you are asked to provide food for a child who has food allergies in any situation, read labels carefully. Even if something seems okay for her to have, the food could still be contaminated with foods that are poison to her. The same exact food from one brand might be safe, but unsafe from another (usually the store brand). I read labels myself, even if we have had that brand of food for months. Companies can change the way they make their products at any time. And things like chicken bullion, pepperoni and pretzels can contain or be contaminated with unlikely ingredients like milk.

Living with food allergies has become not just my daughter’s issue but a family issue, and it’s an ever-evolving process for us. We have started to reintroduce some soy into her diet with some success which is so encouraging to me, but there is long road ahead of us in helping our daughter live a happy, fulfilling, and safe life.

Honestly, I don’t know everything about her allergies and some things are still a mystery to me. Some of it’s trial and error and guessing and waiting. We take it day by day and do the best we can.

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts about food allergies.
I would love to hear your allergy stories and any tips and things that have worked for you.

P.S. This is Natalie’s typical outfit. She wears tights so that we can apply lotion several times a day and keep her skin hydrated. It also helps her not to itch.

Comments

  1. says

    My family lives with food allergies as well. My son and I are allergic to celery, and my daughter is allergic to cinnamon and probably celery, but she's doesn't have any reason to come into contact with it.
    My husband and his parents have been such a blessing learning to cook without celery. It's in tons of things that you would never expect, such as oscar mayer hot dogs. I

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing Delia! It has made me realize I need to be sure to not contaminate others with things I never thought as poison, but it really is poison for others. I was much more aware when my son was best buddies with a little girl allergic to peanuts. I washed and scrubbed his little toddler hands and face every time we went to nursery or to play with her. I need to be more aware again.

  3. says

    I really liked what you said about learning to help in "meaningful, actionable ways." The people who respond that way are always such a blessing to interact with!

    My 18-mo son is sensitive to dairy (thankfully he seems to just get excess gas which gives him a stomachache until he burps it out, not a full-fledged allergy response), so I can identify with a lot of what you'

  4. says

    Oh, ps. There's a really interesting book called "Don't Kill the Birthday Girl" written by a lady who's had anaphylactic dairy allergy all her life. You might be interested in an adult perspective on living with allergies :)

  5. says

    I agree thanks for writing this. Most people don't understand true food allergies. You may remember my son I had while we were neighbors, he too has many allergies. One being he is allergic to a cow in ALL forms the worst being beef. We have experienced anaphylaxis and it is real. We have some really good doctors that we see every six months and they said these sever allergies are usually

  6. says

    My youngest son also has food allergies. He is allergic to tree nuts, raspberries and strawberries. At his last allergy test, he spikes higher on his nuts, therefore the allergist was very stern in telling us to make sure we carry his epi pen everywhere we go. It is a scary thing. He got a new teacher at his daycare and no one made her aware of his allergies, I was furious!! This prompted me to

  7. says

    Thanks for sharing! I'm not all that familiar with food allergies – Syd is, from my observation; sensitive to food dyes which affects her behavior – but that's it. My sister developed a severe allergy to shellfish in the last few years and has gone into anaphylactic shock a few times. Scary stuff.

    I am very familiar with having to advocate for my kiddo and sometimes being

  8. says

    Thank you for sharing Delia! You definitely educated me. I don't live with allergies or even know someone close that does have them, so this was a fascinating and educating article for me to read. Hayden just started preschool and there is a boy in his class with a peanut allergy. Your tips are very helpful!

    I do have one question. If you can't wash with soap and water, would

  9. says

    Thank you for this post. I have a couple of allergies, latex and cats, nothing food related yet. And nothing that causes more than a skin reaction yet. But I am too much of a chicken to find out if it will get worse.
    Thanks for the explanation that the foods are poison to your daughter. That is such a great way of helping mothers like me who give the goldfish and just don't think how

  10. says

    Wow – big hugs to you!
    My son was diagnosed with a dairy allergy at 9 months after breaking out in hives – so until he was 2 he was dairy free – I had to read labels on everything – my biggest surprise was that dairy was in bread! I cant imagine how time consuming it must be to find things for your daughter to eat! For us, thank goodness he had a food challenge at age 2 and he grew out

  11. says

    Thanks for this post. I think it was a great idea for you to write about it! I know many people with food allergies/sensitivities. I myself have bad seasonal allergies, and know how awful reactions can be. I don't think you are over reacting at all. Allergies are a very scary thing–especially when reactions can happen through the air or contact. Thanks for sharing some of your

  12. says

    I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. It's an all-consuming worry.

    My 5th baby was allergic to dairy, wheat, egg, soy, peanut, citrus, nightshade family (incl. potatoes) and sensitive to a bunch of others. He was borderline anaphylactic for dairy and peanut. It was awful.

    After several trips to the emergency room, I started looking for some options to heal him.

  13. says

    hugs! Food allergies are hard! In my case it is myself and not the kids… but I can't even have a drop of dairy anythign touch my food without getting SEVERELY sick… and eggs are no good either. It is hard. But she is a cutie! and it is do-able to live with allergies :) and even have healthy pregnancies with them :)

  14. says

    Thank you for sharing – A has food allergies… and here is the funny thing, he is a TWIN and B has NONE… there is nothing about what we eat or our environment that causes our children to have allergies. A is allergic to Peanuts and – he breaks out in hives from contact or ingestion… in a world filled with PB&J for kids it can make outings a little more fearful for me. I carry benedryl

  15. says

    When Gracie was two, she got a bacterial infection in her GI tract that made her allergic, for lack of a better word, to dairy for a year and a half. While she did grow out of it eventually, we're constantly on the watch because her digestive tract still is sensitive and she keeps developing sensitivities to foods. Nuts of all kinds are out and I never realized how many foods come into

  16. says

    Food allergies just flat out suck! I'm allergic to soy and all of it's biproducts. I'm allergic to all nuts and legume except peanut. Weird, I know. I'm most likely allergic to gluten as well, I'll test that theory this weekend. All of my allergies are adult onset. There was nothing I did to cause them, they just are. I don't judge me or anything else. Blame takes

  17. says

    Thank you for posting. People who haven't had to live with an allergy, or someone who has no allergies, often don't think about things like this.

    I have an odd allergy with sulfur. It's both a blessing and a struggle. Sulfur is used in a large variety of preservatives, and of course turns up in parmesan cheese and egg yolks. Due to this I have to be super careful at

  18. says

    Thank you for posting this. As the mother of a toddler, I am now much more aware of the importance of cleaning her off much more thoroughly after she eats.

    I really appreciate your sharing your personal experience. It's so important to talk about it.

  19. says

    My little girl (18 months) is allergic to dairy and soy. It took us the first 6 months of her life to figure out – and she basically screamed nonstop for those 6 months. Stopping dairy and soy was the first time any of us got any sleep. She doesn't have any skin or breathing reactions, but they make her sick to her stomach and she throws up whatever she eats that has dairy or soy. I used to

  20. says

    I have a quick question–what calorie-rich foods are you feeding her? My son is super tiny as well, (18.5 lbs at 19 months!) and has no known allergies, but I'd love to 'fatten' him up some :) Thanks for a very informative post!

  21. says

    I feel for you. Although my daughters do not have any food allergies, your article struck a chord with me because I regocnised myself in it. My twins were born 11 weeks early and I was ready to throttle anybody who dared to approach them while having a cold, unwashed hands or any other form of germ-ridden article.
    While time solved my problem, yours will not be resolved so easily.

  22. says

    I have twin girls – one has food and seasonal allergies, the other is totally clear. So it annoys me to think people will point a finger to what you may or may not have done during your pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc.

    My daughter who does have food allergies has grown out of her egg allergy (meaning she can now have baked goods with egg in it) but it's scary because some allergies

  23. says

    Oh my, I am so sorry you are going through this. First let me just say what you already know, but what you need to hear again and again: this isn't your fault. You did NOTHING to cause this. It just happens that some kids have allergies.

    My daughter was diagnosed with a peanut allergy at 1 year, and while we have been VERY lucky that she hasn't had a reaction since then,

  24. says

    Thank you so much for this post. It has really changed my perspective on allergies. My 15 month son is allergic to dairy and soy (I just commented on Instagram about your ice cream;) and it can be so hard. He has always had terrible eczema, even as a newborn. He gets diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and so lethargic we have ended up in the ER 4 times. I make sure to feed him before we go out

  25. says

    That's rough, Natalie being so allergic to so many things. I'm allergic to melons, myself, and bananas. My baby was sensitive/allergic to eggs (she's outgrown it, thankfully), so I understand how hard it is to avoid that particular food. It's hard to go to social events and not be able to eat anything, and to have to carefully read the ingredients list for everything.

  26. says

    Way to be an advocate for your daughter! You are all she has and way too many parents don't take that necessary stance in many aspects of their child's life for fear of judgment. Allergies are very real and I feel sick inside every time I hear of a child hurt or even killed by food, many times because people don't take them seriously. The common thought is, "well, we never had

  27. says

    I almost don't want to tell my story because I don't want you to have another thing to worry about, but I'm sure you would want to know. I have had a few small issues with food allergies all my life. I did have some allergies as a very small child that I grew out of (including chocolate, THANK GOD!), but I learned pretty early on that there were some foods that made me feel funny, so

  28. says

    Delia, thanks for writing this. It hit so close to home for me and my family. My husband has been allergic to milk, wheat, and eggs his whole life. Only in adulthood have we discovered that somewhere along the road he dropped the milk and egg allergy by the wayside. Hooray! But, he was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (another whole chapter.)

    Our oldest son has a nut and

  29. says

    Thank you for posting about this. I would have never though about washing my hands AND my face with soap and water. I definitely learned something new, and I appreciate your openness with sharing! :)

  30. says

    Oh poor you! It’s just against maternal instinct, if a child doesn’t or cannot eat properly. As a mother you want to feed your kid and it’s so hard if you can’t. Wish you both well!

  31. says

    Thank you so much for sharing, Delia! I feel like my eyes have been really opened and I just want to give you a big hug right now. I haven’t had to deal with food allergies myself in my own family, and I just can’t even imagine how difficult it is. There is so much that is taken for granted! It never even occured to me, for instance, that it’s necessary to wash hands and face to play with your baby!

  32. says

    When my sister was little she was allergic to beef, dairy, eggs, chocolate, beans, tree nuts, and peanuts. She learned at a very young age to ask about ingredients and my mom made interesting versions of all kinds of things from crumbly homemade pasta to crumbly homemade egg-less birthday cake. She grew out of all of her allergies except those to tree nuts and peanuts (which actually have only become more severe) around middle school. I think it’s sweet that your boys go without milk so they can eat with her. To this day I have an aversion to nuts because I always associate eating anything with nuts with being a danger to Emily and yes, having to wash my hands and face (even though she’s in college halfway across the country). I know it’s different to be a parent versus a sibling, but from my perspective I would say it gets easier. It becomes a part of life to the point that you don’t really have to think about it anymore (mostly because you’ve learned to think about it all the time).

  33. says

    I’ve been a Pre-k teacher for over 24 yrs. as many of you have mentioned, people often feel that parents are over reacting. Some of my fellow teachers take it upon themselves to “allow” a child to eat certain things their families have asked for their child not to have. Some are vegan, raw diets, allergies, or religious reasons. Be as pushy and demanding as you can! I go out of my way to to kindly and gently hover over these students are block the potential for them having anything not on their diets. Schools may tell you that you cannot bring your child’s lunch(most often publicly funded Pre-k) . Whatever your reasons for excluding things from your child’s diet have your pediatrician write a short letter explaining how these items will effect your child’s health. Stand your ground, trust yourself, and find a supportive staff member who will take the extra care.
    On another note, one of my students had horrible eczema . The family was vegan and very conscincous about all cleaning and personal hygiene products. They finally tried acupuncture and it made a tremendous difference.
    Listen to your gut, advocate for your child, and be that squeaky wheel. You are the parents, our job is to respect your choices and to support you. You are your children’s first and most important advocate! Best of luck!

  34. says

    I’m sorry you are having to deal with this. I never had to deal with any allergies until I became a mother almost twelve years ago. I never thought about it but my husband’s family had allergies and my father had a milk intolerance as a baby. All my boys had milk intolerances as babies. Only my middle boy still says his belly hurts if he has milk but all other dairy seems okay to him. My oldest had severe eczema starting at 3 months and I never knew it was related to allergies. Once we started solids we knew. First it was dairy, hives, next was peanuts, nickel and then soy. We switched to rice milk at that point, he was about 12 months, when I weaned him from breast milk. There the years there have been other allergies. He was last tested at 7 but now I realize I need to get him tested again. He never did grow out of his peanut allergy and was allergic to 5 other nuts at that time as well as dust, tree pollen, tomatoes and he has what is called cold urticaria, when he’s out in the cold and come in, he body reacts by giving him hives. I think it’s an autoimmune thing. Good luck, it is a lot of work and can last a long long time.

  35. says

    We’re gluten free. Whole family. The goldfish story is so close to us. So, many kids want to share food as they get older. That’s hard too. But it gets easier. At 2 my kid was the only kid “reading” labels at the pretend grocery store. And he knew not to eat the toast given to him at a diner (we had got gluten free toast) we had never talked to him about it or even made that big of a deal– at least I don’t think so. He picked it up and asks before eating food.
    It gets easier, then harder, then easier….

  36. says

    My son is 2 and thank God has showed no food allergies yet, however I try to feed him a whole food/organic diet that many people tend to roll their eyes at. For this reason I follow an 80/20 rule (80% of the time we follow whole food/organic, 20% we “cheat”–keeps me SANE!) Yes, he technically CAN eat that dorrito (no allergy) but no I don’t WANT him to! Ugh. I can’t believe the nerve of adults just handing my child a sucker/cookie/candy without my permission. I had an old man hand my son a bag of dorittos (because he is a great eater and eats anything and was probably just staring at him, doing what I call the “baby bird”–mouth wide open going “ah, ah ah”), then once my son’s pounding the bag and he turns to proudly show me his spoils, the man says “oh, you better ask your mom first” WTH?? You tell him that NOW? All I kept thinking was this man had no idea if my kid had an allergy or not and took it upon himself to feed him junk food. So the point of my rant is that my heart goes out to you because you HAVE to be a helicopter parent for the sake of your daughter. I get it. I’m sorry you have to explain yourself over and over at the risk of sounding dramatic. She’s lucky to have a devoted momma looking out for her.

  37. says

    Thanks for sharing your story. My son had his first anaphylactic episode july 5th. He was diagnosed at 6 months old with multiple food allergies and has had other reactions but he had his first epinephrine shot tbis year at 4 yrs old. It was soo scary. Here is some pictures of that day http://youtu.be/0Rwd-cc2DvQ

  38. says

    Thanks for sharing your story. My son had his first anaphylactic episode july 5th. He was diagnosed at 6 months old with multiple food allergies and has had other reactions but he had his first epinephrine shot tbis year at 4 yrs old. It was soo scary. Here is some pictures of that day http://youtu.be/0Rwd-cc2DvQ

  39. says

    We have a similar situation here. I always bring our food everywhere. It is too risky to let someone else prepare our food.
    Our youngest is allergic to gluten and eggs. We found out that gluten can be an endocrine blocker, and could be responsible for her not growing (she has problems growing since she was 3- she is now 7).
    All I can say is that you are so not alone. Hang in there. The world is changing. More and more people are in this boat.
    I hope someone comes up with something to build our immune systems up again, and cure allergic reactions.
    ~Michelle

  40. says

    Great post. It is so hard for people to understand. I have to say I was someone who didn’t take allergies seriously. I was very uneducated about them. Then my friend’s little boy developed a peanut allergy and I was educated quick! I still never thought I’d have to deal with any of that. But when my daughter was four months old she started having blood in her stool. We were exclusively breastfeeding so I was the one who had to start limiting things. I had to take out dairy and soy, and I mean ALL dairy and soy. I had a tiny bit of wasabi paste which I didn’t realize had a tiny bit of diary in it and the next day she was bleeding again.
    Her pediatrician explained to me that it was not a true allergy but a leaky gut that made certain proteins irritate her. I’m so happy to say it appears that she has grown out of theses intolerances, and I so hope it’s the same for your sweet daughter. Sounds like you’re doing everything you can! And writing this blog post and educating others is so so great!

  41. says

    I have nothing constructive to say except thank you for writing this. My kids aren’t overly allergic to anything (Vincent gets tummy cramps and lots of poo – lol – when he eats/drinks dairy so we keep him off it. And Edison’s skin gets all red rashy when she smears banana on herself) so I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it is for you.

    I’m really proud of you though. It’s hard to be strong when other mama’s and society in general are SO judgemental and seem to think they know best for YOUR child, it’s really difficult to be a mother and make decisions!! No matter what, you are the mother, YOU know best!

    xxxxxx

  42. says

    My Friend has kids that are celiacs and one that is allergic to all forms of dairy, she has to take food everywhere with her, and they never get to just drop in on a restaurant unless she can get her kids something like plain rice. She has had to make the choice to home school because her kids were getting sooooo sick in school (macaroni crafts, play dough, sticker adhesive, even licking envelopes, and that’s before we start to talk about the contact issues with other kids having eaten and then touching her kids.) Anyone who thinks having allergy kids is not that serious, has definitely never lived with it.
    My daughter just had her birthday party, and we made sure all the food was allergy safe (we made popcorn in coconut oil, everything was gluten, dairy, and nut free, etc.) and my friend cried because it was the first time her kids could eat at a party – it just broke my heart.

  43. says

    I am so glad that you shared this.

    I am your daughter, only 36 years old now and a mommy to 2 girls of my own now. My mom was my advocate and forced the doctors to run allergy testing and what-not all before the age of 2. The doctors thought she was crazy, but she pushed on.

    And here I am today, still allergic to peanuts, soy, cow milk, and gluten, but very happy and healthy. My life is great and very manageable because of all the hard work my mom did for me when I was little.

    I say this because every time you get down or feel beat up by this, just know that someday your little girl is going grow up into a strong, confident, healthy woman and be able to tell you thank you so much. And that will make it all worth it.

  44. says

    I loved this post! I have 3 girls who aren’t allergic to anything and it is really great to be able to understand better what children and families go through when there are food allergies present. I love your blog!

  45. says

    This is a very refreshing post, thank you for writing it! I am 20 years old but when I was 17 I started having severe allergies to dairy and wheat products, and was also diagnosed with IBS. This is also genetic allergy thing, all the women in my family started this at 17 and a few uncles have it too, very strange! It is annoying when people think you are overreacting to these allergies.. When I say it makes me vomit (gross) I really mean it! And what makes it more frustrating is that the severity of my allergies can sometimes depend on my mood, I.e. if I am tired or stressed. Anyone else have this too? I wish dairy and wheat free products were more accessible and cheap (i live in london, Britain) as more and more people get diagnosed and are being recognised, I bake and cook quite a lot so just end up making my own free foods! I feel your pain!

  46. says

    Delia, thank you for sharing this, I love the way you explained it. It is helpful for those of us not living with food allergies. You are doing great and she is so lucky to have been born to such great protectors!!! Your family is wonderful and of course she is such a sweet blessing to so many too:).

  47. says

    Thanks for sharing your story. I sense that you have been strong throughout this process and are a great advocate for your daughter. I have lived through this (personally and for my son) and it can be stressful. I’m amazed at how many people (strangers, friends and even family members) can be so insensitive and not believe that allergies are real. Stay strong. Sending you good thoughts.

  48. says

    Thank you, Delia. 2/3 of my kids have peanut/tree nut allergies. They both outgrew the soy, dairy and I can’t even remember the others. Those two kids of mine also have asthma, which typically go along with food allergies. My last baby, whom I nursed til 14 months, has the peanut allergy the least severe (2+) where my son, who is a twin and his twin dodged any food allergies (weird!) has a peanut allergy of 4+. I HEAR YOU! I am a wreck a lot of the time. I also find myself slacking, as well, as time goes on. I just want to tell you that it will get better (likely) and she will probably outgrow many of those allergies. My son can now eat almonds and hazelnuts! He is SO EXCITED! He is almost 11 yrs. and getting stronger in his body and immunes. We still go everywhere with Epi’s and benedryl and will always. I am now terrified about high school and college! Will they carry their Epi’s in college or forget? Or eat carelessly?? I can make myself go absolutely crazy. I pray endlessly! They are are precious babies whom we want to protect so fiercely. You did your readers a huge service by posting your educational post. Thank you, thank you.

  49. says

    Thank you for writing this post. What a tender topic for so many. It really opened my eyes to how difficult allergies can be. None of my children have any type of allergies, but about 7 years ago, right after his father died, my husband started being dairy and sugar intolerant. We tried so many different tests, and counseling in case it was an emotional problem and now we just live with it. It’s hard to go out or go anywhere we don’t have control over our food. And if he eats something he shouldn’t have, he is usually sick for about 2 days. It has been difficult with his job and in the beginning there were a lot of missed days. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself about all the things that I’ll never be able to cook for my family but mostly I just try to be grateful it’s not worse.
    I’m so sorry that some people have made rude comments about something that you obviously didn’t cause. You are a wonderful mother and protector! And besides my 3 kids, I really do think Natalie is the cutest kid I’ve ever seen!
    Sending hugs!

  50. says

    We found out my son was allergic to dairy, peanuts and eggs when he was 12months old. He is now 4.5 and able to eat eggs and limited amounts of dairy. I would say it took until he was 3, for him to understand why he couldn't have certain foods. He is SO good about it now, and I think its partly due to our coaching and encouragement.

    He also had some instances where he had a

  51. says

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, it's really helped me understand what my mum went through. My brother developed a severe dairy allergy as a newborn, and we had years of real scares, which most people didn't understand as it wasn't a "typical" anaphylaxis reaction. He's now an extremely healthy, 6 foot tall 24 year old rugby player, so there can be light at the

  52. says

    Thank you so much for sharing this information and your heart!

    I was totally ignorant about food allergies, but you've given us tangible ways we can support parents and kids who are living with them.

  53. says

    Thanks for sharing! I was diagnosed with severe environmental, seasonal & food allergies later in life and while my son (age 5) seems okay so far, I'm more worried about my daughter (17 mos)because she seems to take after me. There are days I can't go outside because I'll have trouble breathing and break out in hives. Thankfully it hasn't been worse yet, but it's the &quot

  54. says

    Thank you for this article Delia! Your writing was excellent and I enjoyed hearing your heart on this issue. Two of my daughters have allergies and sensitivities. Have you looked into probiotics and enzymes for your daughter? My oldest has them worse than my youngest but we have seen some of her sensitives and allergies diminish through use of Probiotics and enzymes. She still has some, like

  55. says

    My heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude for your stories, and your words of encouragement. Thank you!

    I am saddened by some of your stories and my heart goes out to you and those you know who have been negatively impacted by this strange condition.

    Thank you also for recommendations you have shared. I have looked into NAET doctors, and probiotics. I plan on looking

  56. says

    Thank you so much for this post! My son was born about a month after your daughter and has been diagnosed with allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame and chickpea. I think that i was in denial for a while and recently my anxiety about the entire situation has kicked in. Your post has been really helpful to read. I don't feel so alone. I also forwarded it to my family so that they could

  57. says

    Thank you for writing this post, Delia! My 4mo has an issue with cow's milk protein. He was diagnosed as failure to thrive at 2 months old after his weight gain dramatically slowed. It's been quite a battle. Since he is nursing, I have had to completely eliminate dairy from my diet which has been a challenge both for me to deal without dairy and because of the extra cost it takes to

  58. says

    I nearly cried reading this post and thinking about everything your poor family has gone through to keep Natalie safe. You are so brave, Delia! Thank you for keeping people more aware of food allergies and how they can help.

  59. says

    Thank you so much for writing this post Delia. I was almost in tears when reading it because it brought back all the misery I experienced over the last two years with my daughters allergies to dairy, potatoes (!), wheat, nuts, soy, … She has had serious eczema in her face so everyone started asking about it and giving advice. Thankfully she is one of the lucky ones because now (she is 2,5 years

  60. says

    Thanks for your post. I have a severe tree nut allergy, and have had exercise induced anaphylaxis, both worsening with age (I'm 30). These things are so mysterious! But way to go protecting your daughter as you do- my nut allergy worsens with every exposure, mostly from people saying there weren't nuts in dishes, assuming my allergy was just a preference. My son had tons of allergies as a

  61. says

    Thank you for writing this. Spending a week with my sister and her Cystic Fibrosis daughter, she gets to play advocate as well. What is a common cold to another child that lasts a week or so might be her daughter's death. Other people will come and go, but Natalie is yours forever. Be the momma bear all you want (and need!)
    xoxo
    Katy

  62. says

    Thank you for sharing your story! I am 32 and allergic to peanuts. Growing up, nobody had ever heard of a peanut allergy (hard to imagine in this day and age), but my mom taught me from a very young age to always ask about ingredients, ask to read or have an adult read the ingredients on any packaged treat, and ask about peanut oil in every new restaurant.

    As you mentioned, companies do change the way they do things… A favorite restaurant in my college town switched over to peanut oil before our last visit there, which thankfully was noted on a page in their menu. I would have assumed I’d be fine to eat anything fried because I had been fine to do so before.

    I have 3 older brothers, and the one rule I really remember is the order in which their PB&J sandwiches were to be made. Jelly first, then peanut butter… no contaminating the jelly allowed! At 37 years old, one of my brothers STILL makes his sandwiches this way, and has cautioned his wife to do the same before realizing that I’m not there and they really don’t have to do that anymore ;)

  63. says

    This is spot-on. I have two daughters with allergies – one to nuts and the other to milk. Though the nut allergy is more severe, both are entirely avoided.

    In my observation, handling allergies works best when both parties (host and guest) are as considerate and flexible and possible. My three year old has already learned to accept it without fuss when she has to skip a dish.

  64. says

    Evie,

    Great advice! I look forward to the day when my daughter is old enough to understand and I hope that she will be able to tolerate being around the food she is allergic to. I am sure it makes it so much easier when they only have reactions to food they ingest. Good idea to bring back up desserts. :)

  65. says

    Hi Delia,

    I have a daughter and she was born on March 9, 2012 too! So it's been fun to follow her through the same stages from the beginning…

    She is allergic to eggs and I myself am allergic to all nuts and seeds, have asthma and eczema (the awesome trio), so I know exactly what you are going through… My brother is allergic to nuts too so it has been "easier&

  66. says

    My youngest son had the same allergies his diagnosis came at 9 months. I being the "bad" That I am gave him a small and I do mean small piece of chocolate that had been mixed with peanuts but did not contain peanuts in that bite. We had the wheezing which I took as an onset of croup. I took him had him checked out and the doc was concerned did an allergy test because of a severe rash

  67. says

    I don't think it sounds like you are complaining or overreacting at all. It must be incredibly difficult to handle, and you don't get a break because it is something you are forced to think about all the time. Thank you for sharing your experiences in such an informative way. Your blog is always interesting, well-written, and wonderfully creative. Thank you!

  68. Kelly says

    My daughter is allergic to peanuts and the way I handle is to educate, educate, educate. Even a 3 she know what allergic means and what foods she can’t have. She knows who in her life she is allowed to take food from and that she is NEVER allowed to help herself to food at a party or social event.
    One of the biggest things that her father and I did was to buy her a medical alert braclet. It indicates that she has an allergy and once we put it on it NEVER comes off. They make ones for children that have some child proof catches. It does double duty 1. it can alert someone (EMS, Doctors) to her allergies and 2. we get stopped and asked about it all the time as it is eye catching. There is a company that does the braclets that also links them with a code for medical professionals that brings them to a website where you can elaborate further on her allergies, other viatal medical information and contact information in case of emergency. Chances are if your child does have a reaction it is more likely to be when you are not with them.

  69. says

    hi delia! thanks for this post.

    it was forwarded to me by one of my readers. my son, too, has several food allergies (peanuts, sesame, tree nuts, soy, dairy, and wheat – confirmed with blood tests). we discovered the hard way – with an anaphylactic reaction after ingesting peanut butter at 9 months. but his eczema should have been an indicator long before!

    just to share, we have no family history of food allergies, i am still breastfeeding (he just turned 1), i ate a very clean, organic, healthy, non-junky diet while pregnant and postpartum, and we are in the same situation as you are…soooo…all these theories still have yet to convince me that we know the cause of food allergies. but DANG if they aren’t more and more prevalent!! its crazy.

    anyway. I’m sorry you’re in this scary weird learning experience that is parenting a child with food allergies. we will re-test at 2 also. I’m eager to follow your journey and learn from you.

    We have our first flight to Australia coming up in a week and I’m kinda nervous. Really nervous actually. Any tips?

    all the best,
    elise

    • says

      That is so scary. I am so sorry that you have had to go through that. Thank you for the reassurance that I am not totally to blame. As moms, the guilt almost comes built in, I swear. ;)

      As for flying. I always made sure to pre-board. I talked to the gate desk or the attendants and explained our situation. Once they hear anything about a food allergy they are usually instantly accommodating. I would go on first and wipe down as much as I could with a Clorox wipe (I bought the travel pouches from Target) while my husband held my daughter. I checked the seat pouches and floor too. We also never fly Southwest because they serve peanuts…but you probably won’t have that issue flying international. I also made sure that the flight attendants knew of my daughters allergies, just in case. Hopefully people around you won’t bring offending foods. We had a fellow passenger do that, but luckily Natalie slept through that entire flight (it was a short connecting flight) and it was okay so we didn’t say anything.

      Make sure your epi pen is in an accessible bag and that you know where it is all the time. I keep my benadryl with my epi pen. One time she had a reaction and I couldn’t find medical bag. Not my brightest moment.

      As for plane meals, I called the airline way in advance to make sure that they were aware of our allergies. We all ordered a meal that Natalie could tolerate. I think it was the vegan kosher meal. It tasted like crap, I won’t lie, but she was safe. We also made sure to bring a lot of allergy friendly snacks. One of our bags was almost all snacks.

      Even with that, Natalie still had some reactions…on almost every flight actually. Luckily they were mostly minor and were well managed with benadryl. I’m sure everyone thought I was doping her up for the plane ride, ha, but it was to keep her allergies at bay! :) I mention it in this post, but one thing I didn’t anticipate is that when they served croissants, the air filled with a buttery smell when everyone opened their bags, and she had a reaction. Hives all over, but thankfully no vomiting. I gave her a little bit larger dose of benadryl and all was fine, but I freaked out a little…like what did she touch??? :) She has never had an airborne reaction but it was probably from the recycled airplane air.

      And one last tip, is that I always carried and still carry wet wipes. When we can’t wash hands, the next best thing is to wipe the food protein away. I find that hand sanitizer works only so so, but the wet wipes are better.

      I have to be honest. I was extra tense from the travel because I was on high alert the whole time. Hang in there…you CAN do it. Everything will be okay. :) You got this! You are an awesome mom. :) :)

      Delia

  70. Bailee says

    My little boy has celiac disease, and is allergic to all milk products. He ended up in the hospital for 2 weeks before we knew he had food allergies. We have since changed our diet, and that is so much harder than I ever thought it would be.

    I used to think that his food allergies were all my fault. But now I realize that sometimes things just happen. I believe they happen for a reason, and sometimes we don’t know why.

    I am so sorry that your little sweetheart has to go through this. I hope she outgrows her allergies. It is crazy how allergies can change your life so much. You don’t realize it until it happens to you.

    Good luck to you and your beautiful little family :)

    • says

      I am sorry for your son and that he had to be hospitalized. So scary! It sounds like he has an awesome mama. :) Thanks for your words of comfort. They mean a lot.

  71. Heather says

    I wish we didn’t have to deal with food allergies at all, anyone but sadly it’s becoming all to common and it’s a fact of life for us.
    Has a child I had a few, latex and strawberry that I grew out of all but contact with latex. Well it returned with a vengeance durning pregnancy and now I’m finding a new one every year it seems like, that was 8 years ago. I’m now allergic to over 30 fruits and vegetables. Mine is called Latex Fruit Syndrome, I think my autoimmune diseases make it worse. But my son also has it and it breaks my heart for him. He isn’t as sever as me, yet. With ours the more you come in contact with any of it the worse it gets.

    A lot of fruits and vegetables have the same protein as latex wich causes the reaction. It started has a small skin reaction but the more I are the offending foods over time the more it grew.
    Bananas are my son and I biggest issue. Most people do not understand that we can not touch or be in a room were one has been or it means a Epi pen and a trip to the hospital in a ambulance. School has been hard on that front But the school no longer allows them, finally! We do get kids who say “Do this or I’ll bring a banana to school” and I am still trying to figure out how to deal with all of that. It doesn’t help that the moms laugh that off as a joke.
    It’s hard to send your child some where that could harm them, very hard. They have a new snack program too were they are given exotic fruits daily to try, it’s driven me insain! But my son is his own best advocate on all of this due to I keep him in the loop on all of it, more than most. He will not touch foods on the list until he has okayed it with me, even if it mean missing the snack. He always ask if a plastic product or toys/balls are latex and if the person isn’t sure he refuses to touch it.

    Sadly he is like that because when he was 4 he was the one who saved my life. I ate something that did not have bananas listed (it was under the number for bananas so we have to learn every possible name or code number food companies give each item, it’s a big list) and i had the worst reaction ever. I crawled to find my purse for the Epi pen, he being 4 called his daddy on my iPhone (which had a lock on it, not sure how he done it) then he ran outside in his undies in the snow to the police officers house to get me help. He came in gave me another Epi pen and called 911. By the time they got here and my husband I couldn’t move or breath. We was on a snow day at school too, if not for that it scares me to think of how that day could have ended. All over a banana purée they used has a thickener in soup.

    Our list is crazy but here are a few to give you a idea if our day.
    Banana, white potatoes, green beans, soy, wheat, kiwi, mealons, strawberry, tree nuts, garlic, cinnamon, sunflower, mango, peach, tomatoe, most stone fruits, grapes, latex, dairy and many more.
    We can have anything from a rash to full anaplayxic shock, mine being worse than his. Epi pens are always on hand and we use benadryle like water around here, LOL. Not really, it just feels like it. There are times I can’t avoid a item and just have benadryle has my dessert, ;). I have to laugh about it or I would go nuts.

    My husband hasn’t had a banana in years because even eating it at work can hurt me as we found out. He washed his mouth very well, he thought. :\

    It’s a huge learning process for all involved and letting others know all the info and how it can truly effect people is the biggest thing. Thank you so much for sharing your story and letting others know this is real and means life or death at times.

    Best wishes and I hope she grows out of this quickly!!

    • says

      Heather,

      My goodness. Thank you for sharing your story with me! What a challenge it must be to eat out. I can only imagine. I am so sorry! I hate to hear stories about children bullying children with allergies too. Other parents don’t understand how serious that is and it makes my blood boil! I hope that through education people will become more sensitive and tolerant. I hear about more and more successful food allergy therapy treatments that are in early stages. It gives me hope for all these kids and for adults too! You are such a brave, strong woman!

      Delia

      • Heather says

        Your welcome and Thank YOU! For your story and letting that long post of mine to through. LOL
        My apologies on grammar mistakes, it was 4am here and me on the iPhone.

        Eating out is a challenge & we have two places I can trust very well that acomadates us. Other times I ask a lot of questions about oils being used and take benadryle. ;)

        On the soy allergens be careful with oils! A lot of companies use soy to cut oils to cut cost, but don’t list it because it’s not suppose to be there. We had a olive oil like this. (Had it tested. ;) )
        So use trusted name brands there.

        You may want to look into the Latex Fruit Syndrome just to see if it sounds like her. She may need to be a little older though.
        Your mouth will fill funny when eating these foods more than a regular reaction of a rash.
        You can email me for more on that if you need I want go into it all here.
        But I was talking to a lady about it and she said
        “I thought that prickly feeling in your mouth was normal with strawberry and kiwis, she’s severely allergic to latex and her 4 year old does the same thing. She is getting tested and was greatful for the conversation on FB.

        Talking about this to the public is key in so many ways. :)

        Thank you again

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