Finding out your child has a food allergy often brings a flood of emotions – relief that you finally have a diagnosis, fear at what this means and confusion at how to deal with it.
I have been through all these emotions and back again since my young son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies and suffered severe reactions. But there is support out there.
Here are my tips if your child is diagnosed:
There are no stupid questions when it comes to the health and wellbeing of your child. It is an overwhelming subject and it will take you some time to process all the information. So ask anything and everything of your GP, specialist or support group. If you don’t think you are getting the right answers, keep asking. Some great resources for information are Allergy UK [http://www.allergyuk.org/] and Anaphylaxis campaign [http://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/].
Make a care plan
It is important that you have a care plan in place so that you know how to deal with your child’s reaction and so does anyone else caring for them. It should cover their allergies, likely reactions and what to do in each instance and be specific to them. Here is the one that I have created. [http://www.freefromfarmhouse.co.uk/living-with-allergies/food-allergy-care-plans/] Give a copy to friends, family, nursery or school and make sure they understand it and feel confident following it.
Allergies are unpredictable and can be life threatening. However, if you have your child’s medication with you and administer it quickly then most can be kept under control. Even if you are popping to the shops or going to the park make sure that you always have antihistamine and an epipen, if prescribed. Have spares and make sure any care providers have them too.
I am an avid ingredient reader! As a parent of a food allergic child you have to be. Whether that is in the supermarket, at friends’ houses or in restaurants. Your child’s allergens can lurk in all sorts of places you aren’t expecting so get reading. Learn the different names for things and be aware of ‘may contain’ labels. I always take some ‘safe’ meals and snacks out with us so we have back up.
Make people allergy aware
Most people are not allergy aware. I probably wasn’t until I was sucked into the situation! Many people confuse allergies with lifestyle choices or diets and don’t understand the severity of them. Don’t be afraid to shout about it! I give these leaflets out [http://www.freefromfarmhouse.co.uk/living-with-allergies/food-allergy-aware-leaflets/] at my local toddler groups to help people keep my son safe with some simple steps.
It is easy to panic when you child is diagnosed with a food allergy but by taking the steps above you can minimise the risk. You and your child can, and need to, still lead a normal life filled with fun activities and social events. Yes, you will always be on high alert but planning ahead, taking precautions and being well informed and prepared can mean your little one doesn’t need to miss out.
Do any of your children have a food allergy? Do you have any tips that you can add to Emma’s?