Navigating Life with Food Allergies

Ah, food allergies! We were christened into the world of food allergies when I attempted to give my then 7-8 month old son a scrambled egg for the first time. In this post I won’t go into extreme detail about his symptoms, reactions and testing because I realize that can vary greatly from child to child. Mainly, this post will just focus on the things that have helped me navigate the world of food allergies. I never had food allergies myself and frankly neither did anyone in my family or friends circle growing up, so needless to say I had a lot to learn.  Not only can it be incredibly scary, it can also be downright confusing learning how to navigate food allergies in the world of introducing solids, daycare, playdates and school! Especially for a first time mom like me who had no idea what to expect!

Symptoms & Allergy Testing

My son had his first reaction when I attempted to give him a scrambled egg somewhere around 8 months. Cue the vomiting! I quickly cleaned up the mess, made sure he was breathing ok and then called my pediatrician sister-in-law in complete meltdown mode (this is typical of our relationship). She quickly told me no more eggs and that it sounded like an egg allergy. She would look into a good allergist in my area for me. Meanwhile, at a well visit I explained to my sons pediatrician what happened and she suggested trying egg one more time (I know, I know, I quickly switched pediatricians after this incident). A few months later I did just that, only this time a scrambled egg was met with vomiting and hives.

At 11 months we had our first allergist appointment. For us, only a blood test was done which showed he was allergic to eggs and dairy. Since he was just entering the world of solid toddler food we spent the next year navigating what he could and could not eat, making sure to avoid all forms of eggs (including in baked goods) and dairy.

When my son was 2 years-old we moved to the Florida area and had to find a new allergist. This was the first thing I did as I know it can take some time to get an appointment scheduled. We did not even chose a pediatrician yet but I made a self referral to an allergist I found after some online research. The new allergist did bloodwork and a skin test. However, turns out my son also has a condition called dermatographia (#blessed) which makes the skin test almost useless. The skin test showed he was allergic to things he has clearly been eating in his diet without issue for a long time. After carefully reviewing the skin test, new bloodwork results and his past symptoms and reactions with the allergist, we came to the conclusion that his food allergies are dairy, egg and nuts. [He’s actually not allergic to all nuts; however, we avoid them all to be safe. He does drink almond milk since he was around 1 year old.]

Whew! After two years I finally feel like we have a really good handle on what he has reactions and food sensitivities to. The allergist does think he’ll outgrow the dairy/egg allergy and the nuts have about a 1 in 5 chance of him growing out of them. Time will tell.

Managing Food Allergies

As much as I think the internet can be the downfall of humanity, bless the internet for all the good information it supplies on important things such as food allergies. Of course food allergies are much more prevalent now than they ever were [interesting TED talk on that here] & there’s a ton of helpful info out there online. Here are a few of the things that helped me understand and better manage our food allergies:

  • Food Allergy Blogs – these are so crucial to finding meal and snack ideas, birthday cake recipes etc that you’ll need. A few of my favorites: Detoxinista, Allergy Awesomeness, Milk Allergy Mom & Food Allergy Mama (she can be found in Instagram). There are so many adaptations that can be made in recipes to make them allergy friendly. I don’t have the experience [nor the patience] to figure this out so perusing blogs of people who do have been really helpful
  • Facebook groups – Don’t roll your eyes yet, these actually can be informative! Just do a simple search for ‘milk and egg allergy’ or ‘tree nut allergy’ and browse the different groups that are out there. These will very much be hit or miss; however, I’ve found a few that have been really helpful. As long as the moderators of the group are good about what’s allowed (god bless the the moderators of these groups), there’s great info to be had. Mainly I get suggestions on allergy friendly brands, where to find them, sales etc. There are even some staples in the regular grocery store that are completely allergy friendly I never knew about! Of course, never take medical advice from anyone on Facebook and always consult a doctor or allergist but these groups can offer insight on different foods to look for and try.

Favorite Allergy Friendly Brands

In recent years, many brands have really stepped up their game in the allergy world. There are so many allergy friendly products out there but here are a few of our favorites that are in regular rotation:

  • Vans – waffles, french toast sticks, cereal, crackers – they have it all!
  • Enjoy Life Brand – dairy free baking goods, granola bars, cookies, crackers galore
  • Hilary’s – selection of vegan veggie bites and veggie burgers
  • Daiya & Follow Your Heart brand – these brands offer a different variety of cheese products (mac n cheese as well as shredded cheese we include in recipes)

Perhaps for my next post on food allergies I can include a day in the life of a toddler with food allergies!

 

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