5 Things Families With Food Allergies Want Us to Know
I was a new mom just getting my footing and connecting with other young moms. I met a woman who was also a writer with a new baby about my daughter’s age. Her vibrant personality instantly drew me in. I felt so lucky that she quickly became one of my closest friends. We had regular playdates, chat sessions, and occasional baby field trips together.
We both had a lot of the same fears, apprehensions and struggles with our growing babies. But our similarities diverged greatly when she discovered her son had severe food allergies.
I witnessed the struggle, the panic and fear around Halloween, snack time away from home, and the day to day but also the strength in her research and persistence to fight for her son.
Witnessing her struggle, just the glimpse I was getting in a fraction of her life, gave me a heavy dose of respect for what parents who have kids with food allergies. Today’s post is for you all, and your loved ones with a food allergy. This post is sponsored by Kids With Food Allergies (KFA), a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), but all opinions are mine.
There is an estimated is 5.6 million or 7.6% of children in the U.S. are living with food allergy – this about one in every 13 children. And that number continues to grow.
Earlier this week I posed a question in my Instagram stories asking what parents who have children with food allergies want other parents to know.
Here were the most common responses:
- Show compassion: It’s tiring hearing people disregard life-threatening allergies as “annoying” or “made up.”
- Ask: a parent before you give a child a food (any food).
- Give the teacher (or parent) a heads up before bringing a birthday treat to class or a party, so a child with a food allergy doesn’t need to feel left out.
- It’s scary! And frustrating when people don’t take it seriously.
- There’s anxiety around worrying when our child faces a reaction. It’s hard to trust others at school and parties.
Many of the responders shared how they don’t want their kids to feel left out, and how they wished others took the time to learn more about food allergies and showed more compassion. Quite a few mentioned the anxiety surrounding anaphylaxis (a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction).
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recently conducted a study called “My Life With Food Allergies.” The results show that food allergies present a higher burden to caregivers than to patients with food allergies themselves. Thanks to the parent voice shared through the online survey, AAFA was able to present evidence about the quality of life issues impacting families with peanut allergies. I think unless you personally experience this, or have someone close to you who does, it can be easy to misunderstand food allergies, or get it confused with a food intolerance (big difference). It’s important to continue to share your stories, and let others help amplify your voices.
The community voice is important in research and can impact policy. This really matters – your voice matters.
Ways to get involved
Want to speak with more people who will listen? Here are some ideas.
- Join the KFA community so that they can lead their voice to future reporting on such important issues!
- Check out drug assistance programs that offer free or low-cost medicines if you don’t have insurance or can’t afford your medicine. Depending on your insurance and medicine, you may be eligible for help to reduce your medicine co-pay. Here are three links to find more information:
And here is a link to their 2019 Allergy-Free Halloween Candy Guide. Where you can find tricks to see which treats are safe.
For anyone whose child was recently diagnosed, free online course with four lessons that are about 10-15 minutes long: kidswithfoodallergies.org/learn
Do you have a child with food allergies?
Tags: food, food allergies, kids
My son has Celiac Disease, so not exactly a food allergy, but we do have a lot of the same challenges. However, I know we’re lucky because being exposed to gluten will just make him sick, rather than risking death. I feel so bad for my friends who have kids with severe allergies, because it is such a scary world when one mistake can kill your child. I hope someday science figures out how to manage Celiac Disease through something other than diet, because I know how badly my son wants to try certain foods. He was diagnosed at 5, so he remembers some things 6 years later, but luckily doesn’t remember much about good bread or some other tough-to-replicate foods. For his sake, someday I hope he gets to try them again with help from medication or some other treatment. Being a Celiac mom has taught me so much, though–good and bad. Going to parties and picnics is so hard, so you have to be prepared, and school events with food make me cringe. I’m so much more aware of how it can make kids feel excluded, no matter how much you try to do something special for your child–it’s still not the same. I’m thankful for better food options and more awareness, but there’s still a long way to go! Oh, and one interesting side effect of his diagnosis is that I had to get better at making birthday cakes since I’m not going to shell out $35+ per cake for family parties. I’m by no means a pro, but it’s been a fun little (stressful!) challenge to make a fun cake for each of my kids each year…and it might have never happened without his diagnosis (since our local grocery store’s cakes are amazing!).
I am so with you. I really hope that we see some progressive changes in science and that can help these poor kiddos. I’ve heard Celiac Disease is brutal. I think that’s so awesome that you make homemade birthday cakes that they can all enjoy. I bet they are so beautiful and delicious. I love that you’re looking at it like it’s a fun challenge.
Teal pumpkin project is great for Halloween too! You pain a pumpkin teal and it lets parents/ kids with allergies know that you will have something safe for them. Maybe a well know allergy free brand treat or a small toy/ color book.
It’s a great way to include everyone!
YES! We love the real pumpkin project! We did that a couple of years ago and we should totally revive it this year.