Many of my recent posts have revolved around fashion and beauty, which I love and want to share with readers, but as a mom of two young children, I also want to use this blog as a platform to discuss something I have been dealing with for a little over a year now – Severe Food Allergies. I am quite new to this issue but when my younger daughter Madeline was first diagnosed with severe food allergies last April, I read all I could and tried to speak with anyone I knew who have children with allergies to get some advice and see what they do on a daily basis. So, in turn, as I learn and go along this road, I will be sharing some stories, advice, products, and even recipes on this blog to possibly help other moms out there who are also seeking advice, ideas and answers. I am also open to any comments or discussions – so feel free to contact me!
This all began a little over a year ago. I was making some scrambled eggs for my 2.5 year old for breakfast and, since I was introducing new foods to my 6 month old, I decided to try feeding her some as well. As my little one began taking some very tiny bites, I quickly noticed a terrible rash of hives beginning to appear on her chin and around her mouth. I knew sometching was wrong and immediately called the pediatrician. The nurse then told me to bring her into the office but if she had any trouble breathing I needed to call 911 right away. Whoa.
I was home alone with both girls, as my husband was at work. I immediately freaked out and called him crying to let him know what was going on. Then I called my mom to tell her I was going to the doctor ASAP. They both met me at the doctor’s office, where everything subsided, thankfully nothing got worse, and her face eventually cleared up. It was suggested that Madeline was most likely allergic to eggs and that she may also be allergic to other foods as well.
A few days later I was lucky to get an appointment with a local and highly recommended pediatric allergist. My daughter, Madeline, was tested with a skin prick test, which confirmed her allergy to eggs, as well as peanuts and tree nuts (they tested almond.) I was then given a list of foods to avoid (all of which my family consumed on a daily basis,) handed an epi-pen, shown how to use it, and then sent on my merry way. WTF. Seriously? That was it?
In the parking lot of the allergist’s office, my head was still spinning. How the heck was I supposed to simply avoid everything made with eggs, and what about the almond milk and peanut butter we all ate every single day. I mean, my husband basically lived on almonds and nuts and trail mix for goodness sake! And what about restaurants, eating out, going to friend’s houses… My 30 minute appointment with the doctor was supposed to be enough information to keep my child safe… I don’t think so!
I immediately went home and began doing research. FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) was a great place to start. There you can read all about the different food allergens, what to avoid, and even how to properly clean up in the kitchen to avoid any cross-contamination. Then came the cleaning, and cleaning out of my cabinets and fridge. It made me cringe that we all had been eating pb&j in such close proximity to Madeline all the time, not knowing the tiniest bit of peanut butter could have sent her into a severe reaction. It all just blows my mind. I spent a few days checking and reading labels, calling a few companies and finally I tossed everything she couldn’t have. If I did decide to keep a product, I labeled it “Not for Madeline” and stored it in a designated space in the pantry and fridge.
Two great websites to try:
To this day, I still keep nuts and peanut butter out of the house. My husband keeps a big tub of almonds in his car and brings them to work but I don’t even want them in the cabinets. We have allowed eggs in the house, but really only my husband eats them. I refuse to have them, as I am still breastfeeding Madeline (yes, still breastfeeding at 21 months… that’s another blog post entirely) and I feel like I do not want to risk getting the egg protein in my breast milk. I also do not give eggs to my older daughter, Micaela. The doctor let me know that the children can pass the egg protein to each other if they share straw cups or if they each put toys in their mouths, so just to save my sanity, I keep eggs from her too for now.
Also, after speaking with some other moms of children with food allergies, we decided to bring Madeline to a specialist at the Pediatric Allergy Divison of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. I needed more answers and more time than what I was given at the initial allergist appointment. Our decision was a great one! The doctor is amazing (Dr. Jacob Kattan) and the facility is incredible. They really help you to understand the allergies and how to deal with them in your everyday life. The doctor has spent a good amount of time with me answering questions and offering examples of what other families might do in my same situation. Everyone has been extremely helpful and I have never felt rushed at all. It was a long wait (about 6 months) to get an appointment, but I would highly recommend going there if your child has food allergies.
All in all, Madeline is doing great and we have found some amazing alternatives to cutting her allergen foods out of our daily diets. The most important thing is for us to keep her safe so we have been very diligent about educating ourselves and our families as well as working on new recipes and finding new products. I will be sharing all the products we love on this blog and I will be writing much more on this subject to give different examples of how I’ve handled situation thus far. I may even include some recipes that I have come up with on my own that my children enjoy. We have not really tackled eating out too many times so I may need some time on that subject to see how I handle it. I am also open to any comments or ideas, as I am fairly new to this and still learning.
I look forward to sharing with you and overcoming any obstacles we face with this issue!
P.S. For a list and to shop some allergy-friendly food products that we trust and love, click here!