Avoiding allergens

Having a child diagnosed with multiple food allergies is overwhelming to say the least. When my son was diagnosed he was 12 months old, covered in excema and not a happy baby. He was constantly scratching and it was heartbreaking watching him tear at his skin until it bled. As a mother I felt helpless, alone and quite often hopeless.

I couldn't understand what was going on. He was on a healthy organic diet, I was doing everything I knew to do. It was a very dark time. ......12 months later, after avoiding all his allergens and various other actions and supplements that we have used, he is a happy and healthy boy. He still has his allergies and we still have a way to go. But he has his soft baby skin back.

So please, if you are in the same place I was 12 months ago, I want to encourage you to keep going because there are answers and I don't believe the medical profession necessarily has all the answers.
The 1st step is to Avoid allergens - Yes easy to say but how do you avoid milk, nuts, egg, wheat, rice, corn, oats, chicken, soy, fish, potatoes, peas ? Easy? No, nobody said it was going to be, but worth it.. definately!!You just do it.... one step at a time. What alternative is there? The rewards of having a happyand safe baby far outweighs any effort involved.

Read Food Labels - It is essential to read every label. Most of the top 8 food allergens are often found in prepared, packaged foods. Companies are required to list them. Check every time. Even if you have had the product before and it was safe, check the label again as labels change without warning.
The FDA ( Food and Drug Administration) requires that food manufacturers list the common food allergens in understandable terms to avoid possible exposure to allergens.
Read more-

May contain traces of... Look out for the 'may contain traces of nuts' etc, warnings. Quite often the same machinery is used to produce multiple products.
Avoid Cross-Contamination - To prevent food poisoning, cooks are advised to keep raw foods (especially meats) away from cooked foods. For example if you were to cut up some raw chicken on a board and use the same board for cooked chicken you would probably make the person eating the chicken sick.

The same care needs to be given when preparing food for people with food allergies. This makes it tricky when you need to prepare multiple meals for different members of the family.

Personal eating utensils -Provide the child with food allergies their own easily identifiable cutlery, utensils, plates, spoons, etc. This way you know that their own plate does not have any traces of cheese for eg.

Be clean - Wash all utensils with detergent and water before and after handling the food allergen. This includes cutting boards, pots, pans, stirring spoons, knives and surfaces. Many people think that a quick wipe over is fine but children have had anaphylactic shocks from the same knife being used to make a peanut butter sandwich for one child and then a sandwich for the food allergenic child. Pay particular attention to traces left in a serated knife. * Even a minute trace of allergen is enough to cause a fatal anaphylactic shock!

Provide a safe haven - People who are not dealing with food allergies dont understand the complexities involved in just the preparation of food for the child with food allergies. When we began, for our own peace of mind we became a 'nut, egg and dairy free' household. As things became a bit more manageable we re-introduced dairy and eggs. You need to do what is best for your family and child. Don't be afraid to declare your home a 'nut' free zone to visitors bringing food. Your home should be a safe haven where you can feel relaxed, we all know how stressful it can be taking your child outside the home where any dangerous food awaits.

Airborne food allergens - Some foods such as peanuts, eggs and fish become particularly allergenic when they are being cooked. When we cook fish we cook it outside on the bbq so there is less risk for a reaction to our son. We were an eggless home for 12 months because I feared repercussions of cooking an egg. We have eggs now, but are extremely careful with them and the way they are cooked. I try to only cook them if my son is outside or asleep in his room... and I have the exhaust fan going the whole time. I never cook anything with eggs in the oven with something that I am cooking for him.

Throw out the trash - Be aware that toddlers love to explore the garbage. To a parent with no food allergy concerns a household garbage bin poses no real danger. However, for the parent of an anaphylactic child, household garbage contains an endless array of potential dangers - an egg shell or an empty milk carton could contain traces of food enough for a dangerous reaction.

*Ever wondered why peanuts are in so many of our packaged foods these days? Yes they are relatively cheap, but more importantly- when peanuts are roasted at a high temperature they become more flavoursome - they also become more allergenic. Interesting isn't it? The rise in food allergies, particularly peanut allergies coinciding with the increase of companies using peanuts to bring flavour to food.

Wash hands often - when preparing food for your child with food allergies as well as when eating that allergen. For sensitive children, contact on the skin can cause a reaction.

Kiss of death- Kids are the most innocent and adoring creatures God created and who doesn't just want to kiss them all the time. Be aware of who kisses your child and what they have been eating. If Poppy has just enjoyed a feast of peanuts, don' t let him plant kisses on your child who is anaphylactic to peanuts.

The last thing I want to do is bring more fear to a parent who has a child with multiple severe food allergies. It is a difficult role enough. My aim is to bring awareness and hope! It is a difficult journey but with common sense and education it is a journey that we can help each other travel.

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