Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kids and Allergies

Lynn and I are nearing the end of our series highlighting life with a nut allergy.  Today, her daughter, who has recently been diagnosed with a nut allergy, shares her experiences as a kid with nut allergies -- go check it out!

*      *      *

I was 5 when I learned a had a nut allergy.  

My parents were cracking nuts for the holiday season, and I wanted to try one.  

So, I did.  

And, my throat began swelling shut.  

There was no history of nut allergies in our family, so this new allergy was a surprise to us.  

So, for the last 22ish years, I've been living with a nut allergy.  {As a side note, my sister also has a nut allergy}

I formally was tested for allergies when I entered junior high -- that's when my doctor recommended it.  Really.  Things have changed drastically over the past 20 years when it comes to allergies, and allergy testing, which I think makes growing up with a food allergy now a little "easier" and also "harder" than it was 20 years ago.  

What's "easier"?  

Well, there's an awareness about food allergies in the general public that wasn't there when I was younger.  Schools have "peanut-free" zones or lunch tables, and know there are some snacks that are off limits.  School nurses are trained with how to handle allergic reactions.  Diagnosis of food allergies may occur at an earlier age.  Families and friends are aware of people having severe allergic reactions to foods.  

What's "harder"?

Nuts are a health craze and almost a fashion statement right now.  So, nuts are in way more foods than they were when I was younger.  Manufacturers want to make sure they don't get sued over food allergy issues, so many of them slap the "this food was processed in a facility that processes nuts" onto foods that should never have come in contact with nuts making it overly challenging for someone with a food allergy to know what foods are actually safe for them to eat.  It's kind-of like the "boy who cried wolf" scenario.  No one wants anyone to succumb to an allergic reaction from their foods, so warning labels go up all over the place and that makes food decisions challenging.  

In a way, the awareness and knowledge of food allergies is also a challenge: people know about food allergies, so there is an assumption that either the allergy isn't really that bad or that a little bit of the allergic food won't hurt.  

What's the same?

Being a kid with a food allergy is HARD.  It's hard because you want to blend in with the crowd, you don't want to be the only one not eating at a party, or enjoying someone's birthday treat.  It's hard because you don't know how to respond when a loving adult offers you something you know you can't eat, and they don't respect your polite decline of their food.  It's hard because so many of the foods that you want to enjoy are off limits.  Like ice cream.  This is the hardest thing for me ... nothing tastes better in the summer time than a cool ice cream treat.  Maybe it's from your freezer {think ice cream sandwiches}, maybe it's from your Ice Cream Man, or maybe from a local ice cream store -- anyway you slice it, a nut-allergic person like me isn't going to be able to enjoy that special summer treat.  Handling those emotions and realities as a kid is tough.

What I recommend:

As a "kid" with food allergies, I recommend learning how to make some of your favorite treats in your own kitchen so you know they are safe.  I love making homemade ice cream, and it's a real treat to share with friends.  

Find out ahead of time, if you can, what the "birthday treat" will be, and make a similar treat for your food-allergic kid.  For example, if there will be cupcakes passed out for a school friend's birthday, make a cupcake ahead of time and send it with your child to school so he/she can enjoy the "same" treat as his/her friends.  

Have the party at your place -- this way you know what foods are being served!  

How about you?  Any tips for kids with food allergies?   



  1. These are great tips and I agree making at home versions of your favorite treats is what I try to do. There is so much to think about when dealing with nut allergies and ice cream is one of them.

  2. Ironic that this was the post today. I was listening to sports radio this morning (my husband turned me onto it!) and for some reason they got off topic and were talking about peanut allergies and whether or not baseball stadiums should stop serving peanuts. One of the guys (the one who usually drives me crazy actually) kept saying that he couldn't believe that someone could get sick from just smelling peanuts and it would be ridiculous if they stopped allowing them in stadiums.

    I almost wanted to call in and ask them if they were serious (or stupid)! Peanut allergies are SO dangerous! Ugh. They should stick to talking about sports.

    Anyway, great series!

  3. A friend of mine has Celiac Disease. But I don't think she can't have nuts.

  4. being knowledgeable about food allergies is so very important, especially with one like nut allergies....we were just told at a seminar to start including coconut into that category.
    thanks for sharing such an important topic!

  5. I have appreciated this series. I too have a nut allergy and have spent my life not eating at showers, parties etc since I had no idea what was in all those attractive dishes offered. Feeling it was better to spoil the party by not tasting one of everything (something I was accused of once) than spoiling it by having someone have to call 911, I understand the fear in what it could mean to someone with allergies. My allergies have gotten worse where even the smell of peanut butter causes me to have a sudden asthma attack where it used to be just if I ate some type of nut. I appreciate the recipes, particularly the bar recipes as this is something that is almost always made with nuts. Thanks for all the good nut free recipes.

  6. As someone who is severely allergic to peanuts/nuts, I've been really enjoying this series. I completely agree with how much harder it is to find food to eat at the grocery store these days since manufacturers slap the "processed in a facility with peanuts/nuts" label on what seems like everything, despite the fact that said product should never have come into contact with nuts at all. I make most of those foods at home now, and when I can't, I make sure to buy brands that don't have that label on the package - and, I also go one step further and buy other products of the same brand instead of giving my money to brands who don't care about people with peanut/nut allergies.

    I also try to raise awareness on Twitter, which most of the time I feel is my only outlet since the letters and e-mails I write to stores and manufacturers always go into the black hole of "customer service." At times I've annoyed company reps on Twitter because they don't want the bad publicity, but I think it's important for us as consumers to stand up for what we need!

    Anyway, all that to say, I really appreciate what you're doing here. Keep up the good work! :-)

  7. I would love the advice of all you who have nut allergies: I was instructed to pack nut-free lunches for my 3 year old this week for VBS. We love peanut butter, nuts, granola, etc in our house, and they are staples for me to pack in kid-friendly non-perishable lunches that won't be refrigerated all morning. I had a terrible time thinking of what to pack in her lunch! Ideas for toddlers lunches? My daughter won't eat meat sandwiches yet, so that is a no-go.


Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you; especially how you're finding JOY in your kitchen.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...