7 Steps to Help Your Child With Food Allergies

What You Need to Know to Be Prepared

7 Steps to Cope With Food Allergies

So your child has a food allergy. You’re probably feeling a mix of emotions: stressed, overwhelmed, confused, scared, and like life just got a whole lot more complicated. But now what? That overwhelming feeling doesn’t have to last for long. There are so many wonderful resources and strategies out there. So, let’s talk about a few quick steps and get you feeling more empowered and less stressed in no time.

1.First up, food labels. One of the first things to learn after being diagnosed is how to read a food label. Know the ingredients that you (or your child) are allergic to. There are often different names for the same ingredients or many ingredients that contain the same allergen, so be sure you know all of the different iterations of your allergen. Get used to checking the label and knowing what to look for.

2.Be aware of cross-contamination. Depending on the allergen, your child can be exposed to allergens even if they aren’t in the food they are eating. If the food is prepared with foods that contain the allergen, or prepared with the same cooking tools, the food could be contaminated. Make sure you are separating the foods you are cooking at home and keeping your child’s food allergen-free.

3.Speaking of cooking, learn about substitutions. Your favorite family recipes needn’t go by the wayside.

Find different ingredients to use instead. Your child will soon get used to the minor changes and can enjoy those family favorites again.

4.Don’t forget to eat out safely. You won’t always be able to do all the cooking. So it’s time to learn some strategies to help your child eat out safely. Asking lots of questions to waiters and servers is key.

Also, check out before you go. A little planning can go a long way!

5.Educate others. Just like you’re not always in charge of the cooking, you’re not always available to be with your child. Other caregivers, whether babysitters, preschool teachers, or school faculty all need to be aware of your child’s allergy diagnosis, precautions, and treatment. It’s important to clearly your child’s need to avoid specific foods and ingredients. Most schools have clear allergy policies and can help you navigate the classroom in regards to your child’s food allergy.

6.Empower your child. As your child matures, you can teach them to take control and manage their own food allergy. Teaching your child the right questions to ask and helping them know what they can have will help them develop in managing their food allergy. Even the littlest ones can learn to use phrases like, “that food hurts my tummy (or breathing, or skin)” or “that food is yucky for my body.” As they get older teach them to read food labels and understand the signs and symptoms of their allergy. One great idea is to role play with your kids. Play out specific situations where they might be presented a food that contains their allergen; teach them how to react and navigate the situation safely.​

7.Find support. Last of all, don’t try to do it alone. There are many parents out there who have been through or are currently going through the same diagnosis. They can help you with the specifics of your child’s allergy, give you ideas for substitutions, and help you find safe foods for your child. 

There are many issues and emotions that go along with a new food allergy diagnosis. But as many emotions and stressors as there are, there are just as many resources. You can do this! Take it one step at a time and before you know it, you’ll have learned the ropes of a food allergy.

Continue Reading