When a child is diagnosed with an allergy, suddenly food becomes the enemy. As a result, the food allergy mom must always be alert. She must be ever vigilant and watchful for any sign of the allergen that could harm her child.
Every time her child eats an unfamiliar food, the food allergy mom’s radar is scanning for early signs of allergic reaction.
It’s this fear of the unknown that causes the most stress for food allergy moms. Allergic reaction is unpredictable, and therefore requires a great deal of planning and preparation for events that other people take for granted.
Food Allergy Moms are Experts at Reading Food Labels
In recent years, there have been great improvements in allergy reporting on food labels around the world. However, when the food allergy mom goes to the supermarket, she must still spend hours scouring labels, trying to decipher warning messages. There’s no consistency in allergy labeling where there may be a risk of contamination.
In the food allergy community, debate still rages as to the safety of products labeled “may contain traces of…” or “produced in a facility that also produces products containing…” Sometimes these foods cause reactions and sometimes they don’t. It’s up to the food allergy mom to decide what her child eats or misses out on. It’s an enormous responsibility.
How Food Allergy Moms Handle Eating Out and Vacations
It’s a sad indictment on society when fast food restaurants are the gold standard in providing food allergen information. For the food allergy mom, fast food is often the only safe place for their child to eat. Restaurants are very hit and miss in their knowledge of food allergies. It’s often so difficult and stressful for the food allergy mom to try and order a safe dish of food for her child that it isn’t worth the effort.
Food allergy moms are on duty 24/7, and vacations provide a new set of challenges to overcome. If food can’t be packed, then it must be purchased and prepared in hotel rooms. The food allergy mom travels with a cooler bag, a list of safe food options and a daily meal plan. The extra effort pays off when she sees her child enjoying treats they never thought they’d be able to eat.
Educating Teachers, Family and Friends About Food Allergies
The food allergy mom watches her child walk into school and prays every day that they will be safe. Some schools are better than others at helping to keep children with life threatening food allergies safe. The food allergy mom treads carefully in her dealings with teachers and other parents, trying to educate them about their child’s food allergies. Hoping that their child won’t be bullied or targeted because of their food allergy.
Food allergy moms must be their child’s advocate at family gatherings. They must educate family and friends about food allergies and never waiver in their commitment to keeping their child safe. They must withstand criticism from relatives, who refuse to accept the seriousness of food allergies, and accept that some people will never understand.
The food allergy mom is grateful for people who don’t judge. For people who go out of their way to help. For people who are supportive. For people who care. Do you have any tips you would share with a food allergy mom to help when food becomes the enemy?