As a pharmacist I’ve filled hundreds of Epi-Pens and thought nothing of it until I had to pick up one for my son. I never knew what life was like with a food allergy; in fact, I never thought too much about it. That all changed when we found out that my son had several food allergies.
We made an appointment with an allergist after we began to notice that he would break out in hives and rashes quite often. Let me first tell you that the skin allergy test nearly took me out! As if watching the doctor stick him several times with those little needles and then waiting for his back to have a reaction wasn’t enough, imagine holding your son’s arms down so he didn’t scratch. Whew flashbacks!
Once the test was complete, the results were in. The test showed that this kid was allergic to EVERYTHING! He is allergic to cow’s milk, soy, wheat, peas, eggs, nuts, watermelon, bananas, grass, mosquitos and … SHELLFISH! Y’all, a New Orleans baby allergic to shellfish is a tragedy! My husband eats crawfish everyday when it’s in season, so we just had to order a blood test to confirm!
The results confirmed it! Our lives would never be the same.
No more crawfish boil invites. No more BBQ Shrimp Sundays. No seafood gumbo for the holidays. A moment of silence please.
What was this child going to eat? I began to look at the things in my kitchen, checked out the labels. Everything contained soy and wheat. His favorite snacks, his waffles, his ice cream, even his cookies. This was heartbreaking. I immediately searched the internet for alternative brands and reached out to other moms. I was able to find a Facebook group which has been a lifesaver! FYI Chick Fil A nuggets are fried in peanut oil.
Although there is a wealth of resources available, there are still parents who are unaware of the severity of food allergies. I can admit that before I became a mom, it wasn’t something that I paid attention to. Parents must be aware of snacks that are being provided at school. I now have a child who may not be able to enjoy the snack that another kid may be eating. Most importantly, because he has a peanut allergy, I am trusting and expecting that parents do not bring snacks to school that may contain peanuts. I urge parents to please read the labels. When in doubt, don’t bring them. On my recent Southwest flight, I was happy to hear that they would no longer provide peanuts on flights!
As a parent, I am more careful about the type of foods that I am giving my son.
I read labels. With every negative situation, I always look at the positive. By reading labels, it forces me to look at what we are putting into our bodies. There are some ingredients that I can’t pronounce, and I’m a pharmacist! My family dines out quite a bit, and I make sure to make the server aware. If possible, ask to speak with the chef. The chef is able to make recommendations based on food allergies and may also be able to prepare a special dish. I have found a few local restaurants that accommodate individuals with food allergies.
While it may be frustrating at times, my son really doesn’t notice at all. Matter of fact, he loves goat milk! At 3 years old, he is able to communicate that he is allergic to certain foods … he will let you know that he cannot have cow’s milk.
I will also say that I’m doing some research on food allergies because there seems to be a spike in allergies with the younger generation. I am hoping, though, that he grows out of this before we miss out on too many crawfish boils!
We are a good allergy family living in southern Louisiana with shellfish and fish allergies- both of my kids and myself- among a variety of other food allergies as well. It’s hard to adjust. But then it’s hard to stay vigilant once it becomes routine. It’s so normal for us now, but now my kids are old enough to go to a friend’s house without me. It isn’t normal for them. Good luck!
What local restaurants did you find to accommodate your son? My little one has allergies too, and we struggle finding places where he can actually eat.