Having a child with multiple food allergies presents challenges. And a lot of them depending on the food the child is allergic to. If it isn’t your child, you may well think of them as problems. It is my child, so I choose to think of them as challenges and adventures into unknown culinary waters.
Mr. T is gluten-sensitive, allergic to yellow dye and soy, and seems to have mostly outgrown his issues with dairy. He’s always been 95th percentile in height and weight and he knows gluten makes him sick and (it affects his speech, too) so now he can self-advocate. I never worried too much when he was little once we figured out the issues. Those are easy enough to avoid, though I got eye rolls, huffs, and comments like “nobody is really sensitive to gluten”.
Mr. F was born in the 90th percentile at 21 inches and 9+ pounds but he has grown slower than Mr. T did. Now, at 2, he’s in the 40th percentile, but still growing. He began having some major digestive issues and we ended up having to have lots of allergy tests run. He’s allergic to wheat, and gluten in other grains, egg whites, peanuts, grapefruit, coconut, oats, yeast, and cashews. Those are the ones he has severe reactions to, anyway. The list of things he should only have in small quantities on rare occasion includes about 15 other items, like corn, soy, etc.
Did you know yeast is in most commercial seasoning blends? I didn’t either. But we know when Mr. F has gotten something he’s allergic to. Mr. F has been stuck at 26 pounds for months. He even lost a little when his digestive stuff got really bad. After a month of knowing his food allergies and being able to avoid them, he’s 27 and a half pounds! This mama is celebrating. You can imagine with his list of allergens that going out is tricky. And it’s caused issues already. If you have a child with multiple food allergies, you already know what I’m going to say. If you don’t, but know someone who does, this letter is for you.
To Parents, Friends and Family who don’t have a child with food allergies, I want you to know . . .
When you roll your eyes and make snide remarks, that hurts. This life of avoiding things that make my child sick is not fun for me, either. I promise my goal is only to maintain and improve the health of my child. I’m not trying to keep you from enjoying a meal.
This isn’t easy for me. This isn’t easy for my family. If you can’t be encouraging, please be quiet. We didn’t ask for this, we are not doing this for attention, and there is not a shot for it.
The hours I spend reading labels while trying to entertain my kids at the grocery store are hours you can spend playing outside with your kids. The time I spend emailing restaurants to see what my child can eat where is time I miss out on playing with my kids or keeping my house as clean as I’d like. If you want to go to a restaurant I haven’t gotten to check with yet, please understand if we decline.
I am in the kitchen a lot. It’s tiring and creates a lot of dishes. If you come over for a visit, please don’t judge.
Please don’t be offended if we skip out on a community picnic or pot-luck. Sometimes it’s just easier to go home where we have an entire meal that is guaranteed not to make my child sick. Sometimes we will just pack it all up and come along, too. We don’t want to be loners, even though having multiple food allergies seems very lonely sometimes.
When we are out together, please don’t try to sneak things to my child or offer them food off your plate without asking me first. I am adamant about avoiding trigger foods for a reason. Please respect that.
We have an AuviQ. I would be more than happy to teach you how to use it. I don’t mind at all if you have questions. In fact, I’d love to answer any you have and encourage you to spend time with my kids who eat weird food because they have to. They are pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself.
I understand why you stop asking us to come, why birthday party invites are few, why we never have big community family meal invitations. Really I do. But we do notice. And when we have a good handle on all this, we’d love to celebrate this beautiful mess of a life we have with you. Gluten free cookies and all.
So well said! We get the same gruffs when we decline because of anaphylaxis reaction to cats(oh they “say” it’s never in the house)
I felt your heart on his issue. I wish very best of all your life has to offer. You make it great and your kids are all that matter anyway.
Thank you so much for your blog. My daughter has a severe peanut and cows milk allergy. Since no one else in our family has food allergies I am often thought of as the “over protective mother”. Recently my daughter had a anaphylactic reaction to a recess pieces that she picked up off the floor and placed in her mouth. (she is 3) We almost lost her, but thank god for the epi pen and quick response of our local firefighters and ambulance service they were at our home within minutes. I sometimes feel that no one understands the fear I have everyday for my daughters safety, so to read that someone else has that same concern for their child and is fighting the same fight as I am makes me feel less alone.
Hey! I found you through the Atlanta Bloggers FB group. I TOTALLY get this!! My son is almost two and we spent a year dealing with peanut allergies. I can’t even tell you how insensitive people were or they were too scared. It’s crazy. Anyway, I feel you mama! 🙂
Hi, Joleen! Happy to see another ATL mama here 🙂 We’ve got a few nut allergies, but thankfully neither boy seems to have issues with almonds, though we use them very sparingly, just in case! It’s funny how people react to things, isn’t it? Thanks for stopping by!
Tara f says
I loved this. My 7 year old is allergic to milk and deathly allergic to cashews. My 3 year old is allergic to peanuts, cashews, and soy, along grass and cottonwood, and I am wheat/gluten sensitive. So we have had a rough time at first trying to all eat meals that were the same. To make things easier for us all we started eating no grains, no peanuts or cashews, no dairy and no sugar(it was giving my oldest nose bleeds). And have noticed such an improvement in everyone’s digestion. The boys notice they don’t feel good after eating gluten or rice or sugar. It is hard since I am cooking all the time and we eat out and usually eat before going to any gathering, but it’s for their health and life.
Tara, there is definitely a learning curve! I became gluten sensitive when I developed hypothyroidism and we can definitely all feel a difference if we have sugar! It is a lot of work, but you’re right, whatever it takes to give them the best life possible! Thanks for visiting!
Tammy Jones says
My heart goes out to you. I have a son, age 12, who is deathly allergic to wheat, oats, barley, eggs, milk, all nuts, casein, and millet. That’s not to mention his strong allergy to all animals with hair/fur and his asthma. I now have a 4 year old(who has speech issues) who is deathly allergic to tomatoes which is the base of most meals for my eldest. So some meals there are 3 different meals! It is tiring, but they are a blessing and have taught me much! It also has taught me much about the people around me, some are extremely supportive and can make me cry when the reach out. Then there are others who act like I’m crazy and think nothing of dragging out everything containing peanuts and peanut butter to give everyone as we are all together. I would really like to say, “Can I sprinkle arsenic around your child. I won’t give it directly to him, but I’ll give it to the kids he’s playing with and sharing things with!” It is very hurtful when your child’s safety is disregarded, especially when it is relatives. It is amazing how many activities are centered around food! It is very hard to always see your child just hanging out on the out side. I have had times when my oldest has had too many things in a row and he’ll get sad and sometimes cry. Most the time he takes it fine, but once in a while it just hurts to not be able to do and eat what all his friends are doing. One year at school all his field trips were centered around food. It was a tough year. Fortunately, we are blessed to homeschool now and that is no longer an issue. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you take this journey. If you are looking for any recipes for something special, just holler. 🙂
Thanks so much, Tammy! And I really can’t believe how much is centered around food, it can be really frustrating. I laughed about the arsenic, I hadn’t thought about it like that but it’s very true. Thanks for stopping by!