Monday, December 20, 2010

Deck the halls with peanuts, almonds, and other non safe foods

If there is one thing that I have learned since 2009, we( people in general) put WAY to much emphasis on food--and its not even the healthy kind! Think about it! If there is a morning meeting at work, there are usually doughnuts present.  If there is a celebration to honor a new life or journey, there is cake and goodies involved. If its a holiday with the family, there is food of ALL types galore.

It seriously never stops. It has came to the point, that kids can't even have a 2 hour play date without some sort of cookies/crackers/goldfish laying out to munch on.

But all of us food allergy parents know the holidays are the worst. Because of course there is food but now memories are involved with the food("well your great aunt Myrna has made her fruity nut cake every year and it just wouldn't be Christmas without it.") Now that's where the tact part comes in because I think at one point we have all wanted to say "Well Christmas won't be the same if sally has to be taken from your house via squad because she can't breath either"

In a perfect world, everyone would truly understand life threatening food allergies. We would explain to them the allergy itself and the deadly dangers of cross contamination, and that would be the end of any food issue. Of course it is not a perfect world and other parents of FA kids have the similar issues with some family members at holidays.

Some tips/suggestions that I have used over the last year and a half for our specific situation. Obviously each family is different and what works for us may not for every family.

Tips for Family holiday get-together with your FA child

--Talk with the host of the event. Do they understand the depths of the allergy including cross contamination? Do you trust them to check every single item and ingredient put into the dinner to make the whole dinner "safe" for your child? If so, that's great and you will need to talk with other people who may be bringing food in as well.

--Offer to make some food dishes so you can be 110% sure of its safety. Desserts are always a good place to start because its a common hiding place for peanuts, and a high possibility of cross contamination.

--Remind all family about the severity of your child's allergy. Ask them to never give your child ANY food without asking you first. Please do this away from the child. Not because the child doesn't already know about it but if there is resistance to not having nuts, the child does not need to hear that and feel guilty that their allergy is causing someone else to have an issue.

--If you have a young child, remind them to ask you before eating anything and what to do if they should feel "sick or different". Show them what "safe" goodies you brought for them so they can still partake in the dessert table.

--Do not let others lay a guilt trip on you. You are making these peanut free requests to your FAMILY for the safety of your child. They should want to keep the child safe as much as you do.

--Perhaps this one is on a personal level, but I have heard other parents say the same thing. Do not let people(family members or not) talk about "how horrible it is that sally can't eat this, or this, or even this" in front of the child.

--This one seems pretty obvious(but I have seen it before) but make sure the host does not have out candy trays full of nuts laying about the house.

--Always ALWAYS have the epi pen handy. There are still some areas without 911, so make sure you have the number for the local EMS with the epi or programmed in your phone(if you are traveling.) Accidents do happen and we must stay prepared.

--Last but not least, if you read all these suggestions and say "listen that's great but I still don't feel comfortable taking my FA child to my family's get together"...I totally understand.  You can always choose to have a safe get together at your house later on in the day or the next weekend. You can make a small brunch, prepare it all yourself, and know that your child is safe. If family wants to come, that's great. If not, that's fine too because its time to start your own safe traditions. For your child's sake and safety.  That's what we did for Thanksgiving.

I really hope that everyone has a safe and reaction free holiday!

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