Hunting for Rubies

Our First Steps On The Journey with Food Allergies

A new school year has started, and we learned something important over the Summer. Our youngest son has life-threatening food allergies.

This was not a fun thing to find out. An allergy test was actually on my agenda to get him when we got back from our annual road trip. I had my suspicions. Yet, with camp, vacation laundry, and family in town, it was also something that easily got pushed in the back of mind until a trip to the E.R. pulled it to the forefront quickly.

Our 18 month old had suffered from some pretty severe diaper rash, almost weekly. On occasion we would see a single hive around his mouth or little raised bumps on his belly. These rashes were always accompanied by a hot spot type eczema that flared-up when he would eat certain foods. I suspected that the acid in blueberries were giving him the diaper rash. After all, our daughter had a similar intolerance to the acid in tomatoes when she was the same age.

Since our older kids attended a nut-free preschool, we have been pretty sensitive to food allergies. We basically converted to Sunbutter then and never looked back. Our twelve-year-old neighbor is anaphylactic to peanuts and walnuts, shared her journey with us and kept a watchful eye on Logan. She pointed out any flair-ups that she saw, strengthening our suspicions that he might have a food allergy.

But, Logan was eating peanut butter, and almond flour, and eggs, and even had cashews on our road trip. He was fine…until he wasn’t – and that is how allergies work. They are super unpredictable.

The Initial Steps To Take When Your Child Is First Diagnosed With Food Allergies

  1. See your doctor and have an allergy test. I loved that our allergist went with the side of caution and did a skin prick panel for many foods, but had us do blood work to test for nut allergies. We had an idea of what the culprit was at that point – A Cashew Apricot Coconut Date Bite made by Trader Joe’s.
  2. Go to F.A.R.E and print out a copy of this form for your house, school, family, and any other caretaker that might be watching your child at any length of time. This is a place to write the action plan you come up with your doctor.
  3. Have everyone in the house practice with the trainer Epipen or Auvi-q. Even my 5-year-old can use it. This goes for grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, anyone who will be watching your child.
  4. If your child is in school, this is a really great post about how to make sure that everyone is knowledgeable, stays included, and has the correct documentation for your child’s safety.
  5. Purge your cabinets, freezer, and refrigerator of any products that contain your allergens. This was something we felt necessary, especially when it came to snacks. Our son is so young, I can’t rely on him not to grab a granola bar from his brother or sister, or eat crumbs off the floor. We’d rather just cut the risk in our home. At some point, we can probably re-introduce certain products into the house in an off-limits cabinet, when everyone is old enough to understand the gravity of the situation.
  6. Don’t forget to look at your bath products and cosmetics.
  7. Start reading labels. Things like Vanilla Extract can hide some of the top 8 allergens.
  8. Join facebook groups like No Nuts Moms Group Support Group and Forum – there is wealth and years of knowledge there.
  9. Figure out your safe foods and bring them with you. We really like Enjoy Life Products for special treats and on-the-go bars.
  10. Become familiar with Snack Safely for a list of safe snacks.
  11. If you are flying soon, see No Nut Traveler for tips on flying safe.
  12. Bring (2) Epinephrine Auto-Injectors with you EVERYWHERE!!!! These babies are expensive and they expire after a year. To save money, brand names like EpiPen offer coupons. At present, Auvi-Q’s will send you two free sets directly to your home with a prescription from your allergists. I believe pediatricians can also order them for you.

1 and 13 people in the United States have a life-threatening food allergy. Do you or someone in your family or friend group have a food allergy? Do you have any helpful tips?

Food allergies suck. They are unpredictable, have an overwhelming learning curve, and are something to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misunderstanding, misinformation, and a lack of rules from food labeling to travel that puts people with food allergies at great risk. As we navigate this life with our son, I hope I can share some helpful tips with others.

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Newly Diagnosed With Food Allergies? Helpful Tips and Resources for navigating this new world. www.HuntingforRubies.com

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