Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Allergy Mom

Doesn't it look delicious?
Well, you can't have any because it's poison.
This long overdue post about kids with food allergies come to us from our friend Portia, a working mother of two (an almost 5 year old girl and an almost 3 year old boy). She is awesome and funny and brutally honest about what it's like to have a kid with food allergies.


Hi! I'm Portia and my kid has a pretty severe set of food allergies. And while he is totally awesome - allergies and all - some of the stuff that goes along with it (that really have nothing to do with HIM) are enough to send me to the nervous hospital.

Example? Why sure!

The Doubting Thomas Type 1
Apparently there are people that exist in the world who don’t believe in food allergies. I try to act like I don’t believe in people that don’t believe in food allergies, but they make it hard for me what with all their nagging questions and not-so-helpful suggestions. This was much harder to deal with in the beginning when I suffered from the inevitable doubts myself about whether all these problems could really possibly be caused by food. Nowadays I tend deal with it by vomiting up details the way my son vomits up beef and I find that it really discourages people from involving themselves further.

The Doubting Thomas Type 2
Even those who do ‘believe’ in food allergies sometimes give the definite impression that it can’t possibly be as bad as I say and he can’t possibly be allergic to all the things I say he’s allergic to. And surely one little taste isn’t going to hurt and why don’t I just let him try it and see what happens and I heard even kids who are allergic can eat it if it’s cooked and was it really necessary to snatch the cheez-it from his hand as if it were a venomous snake?

Anyhoo, these are the people that look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that my son can’t have whatever it is they are trying to give him because I don’t know exactly what’s in it. These are the people who start interrogating me when I say he’s allergic (What makes me think he’s allergic? Oh, I brought him to a shaman and had him do a vision quest. It was totally reliable; he had a real tipi and everything). These are the people who are angry because our daycare asked them to stop sending peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their kid’s lunch.

The "You are a Hoverer Because You LIKE It" People
These are the people who roll their eyes at my ‘overprotective helicopter parenting’ when I follow my kid around in public to make sure he doesn’t pick anything up off the floor or let any other sweet-and-giving child share their snack with him.

Let me add for clarification that I am not a hoverer by nature. In fact, with my first child I accused of being too relaxed. (TRUE STORY: Oh, she just ate a moth? *shrug* Eh, it’s probably not the worst thing that’s been in her mouth today.) But this one I have to hover. Not only is food an issue, but he has severe eczema and if not closely watched and forcibly restrained he’ll (quite literally and with no exaggeration) scratch himself until he’s raw and bleeding. So no matter where we are I am there. Hovering. Hating that I have to hover and trying to ignore the rolled eyes of people who don’t know why I have to do it. Which brings me to…

The Crushing Guilt
Not only is it my fault he’s allergic to begin with because I ate peanuts when I was pregnant/didn’t eat peanuts when I was pregnant/ate peanuts when I was nursing/didn’t eat peanuts when I was nursing/had a vaginal birth/had a csection/didn’t make the proper burnt offerings to the right god, it is also my fault when he does accidentally get something in his mouth that triggers a reaction. Thank JEEBUS he’s never shown signs of anaphylaxis so I’ve never had to deal with that particular hell, but it’s an ever-looming specter. What I DO have to deal with as far as reactions is the vomiting/mucousy-or-bloody diarrhea/head-to-toe-rash/constant-scratching/bleeding/gassiness-and-bloating/insomnia. And to anyone who thinks it’s okay to let him have “just a taste” because “it’s not like it’s gonna kill him” why don’t you ask him first whether a taste of yogurt is really worth all that. Oh wait, you can’t. He’s two.

But I digress. Point being I feel guilty any time he has a reaction and I spend the next…however long the reaction lasts this round…trying to figure out what exactly I did wrong when probably what happened is that he found the pretzel his sister discarded (because it wasn’t twisted right) under the couch and gleefully consumed it (because he KNOWS he’s not supposed to eat her pretzels) and really that’s my fault too because I didn’t vacuum yesterday (or all of last week) and also I should probably just not have pretzels in the house in the first place except big sister LOVES them they’re her FAVORITE and if I don’t let her have pretzels I have that guilt of denying her piled up on top of all the rest.

And let’s not even get into the guilt of trying to nurse him while eliminating every food known to man and seeing him react to everything that goes in my mouth. And the twin guilts of having to abruptly wean him and wondering if I should have weaned him sooner. Yeah, let’s not get into that because then I’ll have to cry.

The Public Play Area
Well, public places in general, but the worst are public play areas. Have you ever been inside those tubes at the McDonalds playground? No? Don’t. You’ll never let your kid in there again. I haven’t let mine go back, and I wasn’t even the one that went in there. Daddy is the one who went in after a youngun and came out shell shocked and traumatized by the experience, muttering something unintelligible about sticky french fries. And while I know Chuck E. Cheez is probably NOT the favorite place of any mother anywhere (potentially a gross understatement) for the allergy mom it is like a frigging war zone with enemy agents waiting to spring on you and deadly land mines lurking under every surface. And I’m supposed to let my kid play there? Um, to totally jack a phrase from Kate and Lydia, EVEN NO-ER. And while I’m on the subject of Chuck E Cheez…

Birthday Parties
I have friends with food allergic kiddos that won’t even go to them, but I feel like that’s cruel. So we go. And then I spend the entire time trying to pretend like I’m not secretly having a panic attack. I have to go through the goody bags with a fine-toothed comb to make sure there aren’t any edible items in them and try to ignore the fact that the mom who put them together is rolling her eyes at me because she’s probably one of those people I talked about in #1.

And let me tell you, there is no greater mommy guilt (without a doubt an exaggeration, but let me have my moment) than sitting in the middle of a room full of sparkly-eyed children getting ice cream and brightly-colored birthday cupcakes (probably decorated with a favorite cartoon character) doled out to them and hearing your barely verbal toddler ask in the most pitiful and plaintive voice ever heard by anyone anywhere, “I have cupcake mommy?” AND HAVING TO SAY NO. And all because I didn’t make it to the store to buy supplies to make wheat, dairy, egg, nut, soy free frigging cupcakes (can you even call them that?). Not that I’d have had the spare time to make them anyway because who the heck has the time to bake everyFRIGGINGthing from scratch? (Yes, I’m purposefully ignoring your raised and manicured hand, Perfect Mommy). And while I’m on the subject of making everything from scratch…

Food. Just all of it.
I never realized how little attention I paid to food before. I mean, I paid attention in that I have a love-love relationship with food. I love it. And then I love it even more, as evidenced by my curvy physique. I’m from the south, so pretty much ever family get-together, holiday, and social function revolves around food. Food is a good thing and the source of all things wonderful (and sometimes gassy). At any rate, I never really gave much thought to what was in my food, not past the oh-my-god-this-is-delicious-what-IS-it level. But now every trip to the grocery store takes at least twice as long because I have to read the ingredients on every. single. item. And I have to do it every. single. time. Because manufacturers don’t care about my precious precious sanity and for whatever reason they think it’s fun to keep changing their ingredients on me.

Oh sorry. Not for you. Move along.

Now I recognize that my son has more allergies than most food-allergic kids, so he’s kind of a special case, but I have to mention here that he can’t eat out anywhere. ANYWHERE. Gone are the days of Happy Meals (FINE! YES, it’s probably a good thing for their health, but dammit they are cheap and fast and easy and EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE it’d be nice to have the option). He can’t eat the food served at friends’ houses or at school (finding a day care turned out to be pure hell) and I’m really not looking forward to the days of Boy Scouts and Baseball Teams because he won’t be able to eat the food there either and it’s only going to get harder for me to monitor and enforce.

And along the same lines, specialty food is EXPENSIVE. Have a cruise through the “natural foods” section of the grocery store next time you’re there. It’s like you’ve magically been transported to Whole Foods for just one aisle, with prices to match. It doesn’t make sense to me, it seems like if it tastes WORSE than its normal food counterpart it should be CHEAPER, but despite my angry phone calls and drunk-rambles on their facebook walls EnjoyLife and Rice Dream continue to disagree with me on that score. And I’m not even going to get into the cost of hypoallergenic elemental formula that at nearly three my son JUST stopped drinking (not because he no longer needs it, but because we can’t get him to drink it from a cup and I can’t take the guilt of having a three year old still drinking from a bottle).

So there you have it. I love my son, I’ll face whatever enemies are thrown at me to make sure he is safe and lives a relatively normal life. But I’ll probably continue to bitch about it when he’s not listening. And sometimes I have to laugh or I’ll cry.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011


  1. Ommigahd this is totally my family. We have twin boys with crazy allergies that have a huge variety of symptoms and nobody really gets it, not even their actual mom (I'm just stepmom, so there is a whole other can of worms) so they only avoid the things they are allergic to on weeks they live with us. IT IS A NIGHTMARE. And they are 8, so yeah, they eat snacks at friends houses and then have massive tantrums (at 8) and have stomach aches and can't get to sleep until 11. And I'm a pastry chef and a food blogger. It's like I'm in hell. I feel for you.

  2. Oh, yes. That sounds familiar. Fortunately, about the time we discovered middle child was allergic to dairy (caused behavioral problems rather than traditional allergic reactions), she figured out she felt better without it. If she weren't on-board with it, it would have been much harder. When she was 3, she'd look suspiciously at people offering her food and demand to know that it was non-dairy. (She still has t-shirts I made for parties saying "Please Don't Feed Gremlin Dairy".)

    I had less trouble with preschool and elementary school than I expected, perhaps because we live in California and people here are more likely to believe in food allergies. But I started each class with a letter to the teacher followed up by a face to face talk and a plea to let me know when I needed to provide a safe treat. Her first grade teacher actually made sure there was always a safe treat for her for every class party. She's just about to turn 8, and she's one of the lucky ones who has outgrown a food allergy.

    I hope that your son will be both less reactive and less likely to eat something dangerous to him as he gets a little older. You know you're doing the right things for him, and someday he will, too.

  3. I loved this.

    It could've been written by me.

    We need to meet, Portia..where can I find you?

    I have with multiple, serious food allergies: and my own MIL has called me a hoverer and told me I like to be that close.

    No, no I don't..I wish I didn't have to be this close but when there are people that don't believe that my children could die from milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, yes: I do have to be that close.

    Call me?

  4. I'm so sorry you go through that. As a nutritionist and someone who suffers from gluten and dairy allergy, I completely understand: people are ignorant and mean about allergies. Your one consolation: it's possible he will outgrow some of his allergies or they will reduce in severity as he gets older (or not, I know, but it does happen). Eventually he will be able to police himself and you won't have to hover so much. Hang in there!

  5. You know, my husband suffers from the same reaction as an adult and we still have these jackh****s who can't understand why he has politely declined for the umpteenth time that appetizers that you worked hours on. Yes, we know you worked hard I don't think his reaction to your food will add much to your dinner party.

  6. Another Allergy Mom here - (soy with anaphylaxsis, reactive to the supposedly "safe" soy oil and lecithin) to say AMEN to all of it! I have to make everything from scratch at home - did you know that "natural flavoring" can be soy-derived? Guess what's in every ketchup on the planet? How about unsalted butter? Sure, I'll wait while you go get the package from the fridge and see "natural flavoring" in the list. Why, oh, why do things need this?! Getting allergy information from a restaurant is like pulling teeth and 99% of the time, they use "vegetable oil" (soy!) in the kitchen for everything anyway.

    I think I could handle most of it without the doubting comments (not really allergic/allergies aren't real/that can't possibly have soy in it) or my new favorite: "did you know you could cure his allergy with the GAPS diet?"

  7. Preach it sister! I still have vivid memories of breaking down and crying in my kitchen at 2 am the night before my daughter's first birthday party because I just realized I used meringue powder in the icing of her egg/dairy/gluten free cake. Fun times.

    Oh and the relative who told me I should skip the family reunion because making it peanut free was just asking too much of everyone else.
    She is only 3 and I the thought of sending her to school gives me THE FEAR. I've even lost a few friends over it because they thought their kid's right to eat nuts anywhere they wanted superseded my kid's right to, you know, not die. So Amen and Hallelujah! Preach on!

  8. The only type that wasn't covered that I expected to see was "The Curer." The one that throws out the name of a chiropractor/naturopath/allergy specialist so that your child might be magically healed from their allergies! They know it'll work for you because their husband's brother's wife's second cousin's friend's roommate had it done once and it TOTALLY worked!!

  9. I love this post! I also have a son with food allergies and it is a freaking nightmare !!! He is worth all of the crazy but it can be exhausting. And if one more "helpful" person tries to tell me what to feed him I am going to go ape schmidt in a hurry !! And NO lactose intolerance in no where near the same....

  10. I'm looking for a "like" button for Tracibub's comment :)

    I love this post!! The anticipation of kindergarten for my FA child sent me into full-blown panic attacks.

  11. Holler! Thank you for writing this. I'm a relatively new allergy mom--we just discovered P's dairy and peanut allergies in July so I'm still reeling. I totally smacked a snack out of his hand at the playground yesterday, given to him by my super sweet friend who just forgot to check the ingredients on those muffins. Those situations are lose-lose-lose...you feel like an overreacting snitch, the other mom feels guilty, and your kid is just standing there sobbing because he REALLY wanted that snack.

    I almost long for the days before his diagnosis when I could afford to be super relaxed and feed him anything and then be up from 1-4am listening to him scream in digestive pain and change tons of diarrhea diapers and watch his face swell up after eating a cracker and wait...what?! Nevermind, I don't miss that at all. I'm just glad I now know how to keep my kid healthy and anyone who stands in my way can suck it!

  12. Oh! Just thought of another enemy to add to the above list: The Non-Allergic Older Sibling. My daughter has no food allergies and still remembers her first 3 years before her brother's diagnosis being full pizza, cheese sticks, goldfish crackers, mac n' cheese, etc. Last week when she asked me (again) for a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch I finally just snapped, "GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES ARE THE DEVIL!" Poor kid. She's got an allergic brother AND a batshit crazy mom.

  13. Oh my yes! if my son even touches a nut, well, game over. no breathing within 30 seconds. and I swear if I hear a parent say my child has a constitutional right to eat nuts at school in the nut free classroom one more time, I will clean the floor with their face. hugs mama! you sound like one of the best moms ever!

  14. My son has an anaphylaxsis dairy allergy, an egg allergy, peanuts and tree nuts as well. Awesome post. The food allergy life is not an easy one. Thanks for this post!

  15. I just discovered that grain was the reason for my "stomach upsets".. and let me tell you.. the EYEROLLING IM GETTING!!!!!! Its not worth it people, to be ill.. TRUST ME! "well you ate it before I saw you"....... yeah and I suffered and didnt know what it was, and now that I do.. WTH Do you think I want to eat it for??? People need to Shut the EFF UP! And maybe lay off a few of those cupcakes themselves. Just sayin'........

  16. Oh it's so hard. From the mom of an 8th grader, I can tell you, it only gets harder. Not only do you slam up against non-believers (sure, you can try that), but also those who just can't take the 10 minutes to think about what menu to plan so that it's safe for EVERYONE. Is it really a problem to have corn chips and not doritos?? The kids still get a crunchy snack, but one that is safe for everyone in the room, instead of everyone but one. And just wait until the day he/she looks you in the face, with eyes full of tears, and says "I just wish I was like everyone else!"

    Schools think they are making tables clean by wiping between lunch seatings. If you have pizza, that rag that has wiped the whole table is now just a milk protein spreader. Here's a tip for the future: science "experiments" will include making ice cream and butter. Do you know how much milk is around a room full of 24 kids shaking it? And don't forget the terror of fieldtrips with no nurse along. And just for fun - when they are a teenager, kissing becomes a constant threat. Right when they can basically be their own advocate, they may have to convince someone else who never thought about what they put in their mouth to consider every bite.
    As calm, low-key and accomodating as we always try to be, there are those moments when it all backs up and I just want the others in a situation to make the effort for once.

    1. My nut allergic daughter is in the 4th grade. But I am dreading when "the kissing years" begin. The thought of what a boy may have eaten affecting my baby is paralyzing!

      And I've heard the "I just want to be like everyone else!" too many times to count.

  17. LOVE the "Don't Feed the Gremlin Dairy" shirt!

  18. First of all, you are an amazing Mommy. I can tell just by the way you write. Second, my 9 month old, so far, has no allergies and I thank Dog every single second of the day that I feed her something new...Finally, my little sweet cousin has severe eczema and food allergies (apparently the two are related - at least according to Duke University - who know? oh yeah, probably you) and our family will cut a bitch if they come anywhere near her with a nut, chocolate, milk...don't even try it, walk the other way, we are from the South and we will go Southerner on your ass y'all...big hugs to you...

  19. My heart breaks reading this...being a mom and raising children is hard enough! I never dealt with allergies but I had my children on a very strict diet (vegan) and going through all the crap they put in everything on all the things on the shelf is something i did. I have to admit Whole Foods prices are CRAZY but going there knowing what youre looking for is there makes it easy and sometimes that is priceless... Im fully a wear of food allergies and the reactions. I actually worked at Whole Foods for a hot minuet. I studied diet to help people that came in to find things they needed and give them the info they needed. Food allergies are NO JOKE and they can make everything terrible. once you find the things that fit into your life it'll seem easier.
    my 3rd child weaned himself from me at 10 months old and it was the worst thing i went through as a mom. when i read that i stifled tears because i feel your pain! I feel your pain with the entire post... I wish i could help.

  20. Oh, thank you so so so much for this post!!!! I and my 3 daughters have celiac disease (autoimmune disease where our bodies attack themselves if even the tiniest crumb of gluten gets in) and I can relate to so much of this. Thankfully, I am a SAHM so I have time to make everything from scratch but once all of my kids are in school, I'll be going back to work. Its going to be so difficult! We avoid birthday parties because gluten is EVERYWHERE. We live in a town with a population of approx 3300 & the nearest restaurant where we can safely eat is about 90 miles away. I have been waiting for this post & I'm so happy to see it!!! Its so nice to know that others feel my frustration!!!!

  21. Even yesser!!! I tracked with this 100%. You are not alone, momma.

  22. My kiddo is the same age as the author's son and has the same allergies, as well as many others. He was actually diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis, as well as the more "traditional" food allergies with their resulting lovely eczema, hives, swelling, vomiting. Basically, he is allergic to food. Not foods-food. He now eats with a feeding tube. Its literally been a life saver. But oh yes, so much of this column was familiar! We just met with his preK teacher who told me, "My classroom is chock full of nuts!" Its going to be a fun year.

  23. I have kids with mild allergies, i myself can't eat nuts or raw fruits and veggies, and my mother has severe food allergies and HBP. No one gets it. We recently had a family invite us to dinner ( we should have gracefully declined) and found out too late that they had hidden the mushrooms in the spaghetti sauce chopped up with the sausage. Hives for me, eczema outbreak for my eldest, mouth sores and hives for mom. Thanks for nite believing us to thus extent. I could shoot you. The next dinner invite will be declined...without much grace.

  24. Good for you for writing this! My kid has one food allergy but its enough to get the obnoxious look followed up with food"oh really?" and i always ask if kids have allergies before we have a play date, throw a party, etc. It seems like common sense to me once you have children you need to be sensitive to the food allergy issue. Non believers can go pound salt in my opinion.

  25. I have been blessed to not have had this particular challenge served on the plate that is my life, but I do empathize with people who have to deal with it. But what I DON'T understand, is how could ANYone have the nerve to doubt a child's mom saying "No, Susie is allergic to _______"? This same doubting know-it-all mom who watches too much Dr. Better-than-yours on cable is the same one who has a child who "can't do this or that", but don't DARE go against that, right? The correct response, idiot mom, is to say (before the party) "what can I provide for Susie and I'll decorate it with non-food items so she will feel included?" Where has the compassion gone, people?

  26. My daughter has a severe tree nut allergy and seriously, if I hear one more person say "But nutella is all he/she will eat!" or "But it's not peanuts!" Well no kidding! But your kid's nutella sandwich will either send my kid to the hospital or a grave. Which one do you prefer? Grrr!

  27. Amen!!! To all of it. My youngest son has egg allergies and I've gone through each scenario since my son was 2 years old. The "Birthday Parties" section... I know it's silly, but I got teary because I, too, feel guilty sometimes about my baby having this egg allergy. EVERYTHING has eggs in it!! A little cupcake WILL hurt. My guy gets the clear runny nose, wheezing, tummy upsets, and loose doodies. :-( Now, just to give you a little hope... it has gotten better (our ped. pulmo. told us by 5 he'd probably have outgrown it)--he doesn't have all the symptoms anymore and his resistance to the allergy has beefed up (had him re-tested recently). It's not all gone, but he can now have a 1/4 of a cupcake!

    That's a big victory for us! But yeah... I know exactly how you feel. Food allergies weren't really diagnosed in the past like they are now. It seems like everyone has them now, but people have ALWAYS had food allergies! The people that give us a hard time don't know schmidt!

    1. My sister has severe egg allergies too. The worst bit is when she goes to a restaurant and asks if there is any egg and the server will just give you a blank look and say they don't think so. It is worse when she is with her friends because they just do not get it and they will tell her that is does not matter and she should stop worrying. Her newly authorized response is "Well I'll eat this egg product and you swallow this knife and we'll see how you feel later, m'kay." She has gotten to the point where anything that has been processed on the same machine as eggs will set her off.

      The best thing on earth for egg allergies: Oreos. Not the cakesters (which are evil abominations by the by) but milk's favorite cookie. They are vegan. WOOT for no egg.

  28. Yes, yesser, yessest. We have both the "kill you instantly" AND the "cause enough gut damage that you will starve to death--if you don't die of internal bleeding first" flavors here. One of the best things to come along was FALCPA - not perfect by a long shot, but it helps (it's a law that says if it has a top 8 allergen it it, it has to be on the label). Prior to 2006, I had to call on every. dang. item. Now I only have to call on about half -- because the first half go back on the shelf. My salvation: the Kids with Food Allergies Foundation (kidswithfoodallergies.org) and the parents there. They've not only saved my schmidt, they've saved my kids' lives.

  29. Oh sweetie - I don't have a food allergy kid, but I do sympathize...we have several in our class at school. What I started doing for parties is to have one of the allergy kid moms - she's a baker - make the cupcakes for us, so that her daughter wouldn't feel singled out. And one of my dearest friends is gluten/dairy allergic...poor girl. Hang in there sister!!

  30. My kid has food sensitivities rather than true allergies (read: not life threatening, he should grow out of them) and those are bad enough, TYVM. I have a recurring nightmare of a relative feeding him X food he can't have (probably pretty much anything we don't bring ourselves) and me taking their head off. Hats off to you ladies who are coping with the real deal; I don't know how I could do it.

  31. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this! I have a 3 year old with peanut/tree nut allergy. People have a hard time wrapping their head around the possibility that she *might* have an anaphylatic reaction. Just because she hasn't had one yet doesn't mean it won't happen next time. One of my enemies is the city squirrel-feeder. Squirrels love them some peanuts. And then they bury them all over the place so that my yard is full of them when the snow melts. Frickin awesome.

  32. Excellent post.

    A supporter of my allergy-kid having friends.

  33. After reading through all this, I'm so glad that the worst I have to deal with is "intolerances" to gluten and dairy--meaning nausea, vomiting, and ADHD, but no epi-pens or swelling involved. I'm so sorry that the rest of you have to deal w/ the doubting Thomas' reactions too. I had a great support system. AND I freaking drove 30 miles to bring egg-free cupcakes to my kid's class, because *one* kid had an egg allergy! Some of us would do anything to help you all, and it makes me sick that you've had to deal w/ jerks.

  34. Agree, agree, agree 100%... but you forgot one ... The mommy who TELLS everyone her child is "allergic" to something because said child doesn't "like" it. This is the douche bag who either knowingly or unknowingly contributes mightily to the development of all the other domestic enemies....

  35. Kate, not *the* KateOctober 11, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    I feel ya', sister. My two year old has a gluten allergy and it's a colossal pain in the ass. And it's just gluten, so I can imagine how hard it is for you. I bake stuff all weekend long. I think I actually bake things that I wouldn't normally bake just to overcompensate. We have GF muffins and GF pumpkin bread and GF home made bread ... and on and on, just so that I can give the little guy a treat and he doesn't have to eat a pretzel made from sawdust. I'm praying that yours grows out of his allergies soon. And hoping that as he gets older he'll have the good sense to listen to you and avoid the foods that make him ill all on his own :)

  36. I just wanted to say that I've only gone through a tiny bit of this with our youngest (#6!), as she is allergic to wheat germ, tomatoes (whuck?), and chocolate (just depressing), so I think you're awesome for not completely losing it. Also, from the other side... my 2nd oldest has been in the same class as a HIGHLY allergic boy since 1st grade. They also happen to be best friends. In 1st grade, this boy's allergies were a lot like you're describing with your son; this child could eat NOTHING, it seemed. The school had already instituted a "nut free table" (please don't get my husband started on the name; "really? are boys allowed to eat there?") at lunch, which worked out fine (according to this boy's mother). Over the years, we've watched as this boy has slowly worked through a lot of his allergies; he can eat beef, spelt, rye, a minimal amt of eggs in some items, etc. And, even better? My son and his other classmates learned how to be compassionate towards another person. My son and a couple of other boys took turns giving up peanut butter, etc, so they could eat with their friend at the "special table". They learned to make sure that there were snacks at each birthday party that are OK for him. And, being that they're kids, they just accepted him and all his awesome qualities and never let his allergies affect their friendships. We could all learn a lesson from kids.

  37. I have an allergy to almonds. Not peanuts or any other tree nuts, just almonds. If you want to see projectile vomiting from a full grown adult, just *try* and feed them too me. And then, in 15-30 minutes, you can help clean up the puke. Not fun. BOTH of my sister-in-laws have an allergy to pineapple. They could DIE from eating it. No, they can't "just try a bite". IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY!!!! My husband's family is ridden with food allergies and intolerances. They have to be very careful in what they eat. I have a mild corn intolerance myself, so yes, I read labels of EVERY SINGLE STINKEN' THING that I buy because I don't want gut curling upset stomach or barf.

    Not to mention soap and fragrance allergies. I have to use Pampers Sensitve baby wipes and cloth diapers on my daughter because I don't want to have to deal with diaper rash that leaves raw, bleeding, sores on her tushie. Get over it. I've tried the "other" kind of wipes and seen a rash show up BEFORE I had a chance to PUT HER DIAPER BACK ON! I don't enjoy a baby SCREAMING because her tushie hurts that bad. It makes me cry. I can only use All clear and free for my famly's laundry. I get hives and welts from any other detegent. From head to toe, including my nether regions. Not fun.

    Thank you, Portia for writing this. Everything that needs to be said so people finally get it.

  38. Unfortunately those attitudes don't change as an adult, I am allergic to oreagno and get people who tell me all the time to "just try it and see what happens" I have even been known to tell them to just try a epi pen and see what happens, as all you ladies know, not fun at all, to make it worse for me a lot of companies hide oreagno under "spices" so finding what I can have (i developed this allergy as an adult) has been a crap shoot. I can't imagine dealing with it with my daughter, prayers and hugs to all you mamas who deal with it everyday

  39. Luckily we do not have any allergies with the kids, but when we do something-- party, playdate, etc, I always ask or put on the invites, please let us know of any food allergies. This way I can plan ahead what to serve, and in the event that there is a very severe allergy I can let the parent know what sort of treat to bring if I cannot find or make something myself to suit that child's needs.

  40. Luckily, my children actually listen to and pay attention to their friends with allergies. My son knew one of his friends with allergies was attending his birthday party and told me AHEAD OF TIME that he couldn't have dairy. So we ordered a cheese-less mini pizza just for his buddy! The boy's dad also brought the kid a dairy-free slice of cake so he didn't get left out during the sweets portion of the party!

  41. I totally get it.....we only have a dairy allergy but my mother-in-law used to give the kids dairy and then call me a lier if they didn't fall over dead.....who cares that they were miserable later.....that behavior must have been my bad parenting......agggggggghhhhhh

  42. I so needed to hear all this! My 3 year old was diagnosed with wheat, dairy, egg, and peanut allergies when she was 2 and we've had her on a strict diet since. At least her allergies only cause excema and exacerbated (that's "worse than normal" for those of you who didn't grow up with asthma) asthma. So if she has a bite or two of allergy food, it's not the end of the world. But it's still freaking hard to deal with!! It costs as much to feed her as it does to feed the other 3 members of our family and we give her VERY EXPENSIVE drops to desensitize her to her allergies three times a day (or less, I'm very forgetful). They're supposed to start working within 6 months, but it's been over a year and no change yet. The worst though is when I'm eating something she can't have and she just wants to smell it. And that makes her so happy. For her third birthday, all she wanted was bread. Not cake, just a simple piece of bread. *sob* She asks everyday if she can have "weed" (translated wheat, but seriously, it cracks me up when my 3 year old asks for weed).

  43. This is my life, too. Thank you for writing about PLAY AREAS!!! Yes, I DO have to worry about your kids leaving traces of the Egg McMuffins they just ate on the slide and killing my kid! Yes, I do have to worry about traces of the peanut butter crackers your kid just ate in this shopping cart. Yes, I do have to leave the party before ice cream and cake is served. No, I can NEVER eat out with the kids. No, I can't have a bite of that because I might forget I ate it and kiss my kid and bad things could happen. Yes, I do spend a ridiculous amount of time and money making GFCFSF, egg-/peanut-free things from scratch every week. Yes, it is hard. Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. Great post!

  44. Oh I feel for you. My husband has an anaphylaxis reaction to eggs and tree nuts. We have an 8 week old daughter and I pray every day she doesn't develop any allergies. I'm already freaking out about the flu shot she's supposed to get at 6 months old - it's made with egg and I'm terrified she will react to it.

  45. I can not imagine what you must go through. Our school is peanut free and recently became nut free. Thankfully it seems like it was a pretty cooperative switch (though we live in Portland, where it's mostly hippies), I am terrified of being the asshat who doesn't check the ingredient list on snack week. We are also about to embark on our own testing to see if Big Boys' behavioral issues relate to food stuff. Good times. You are an awesome mama.

  46. love, love, love! pitch perfect! my daughter is allergic to eggs, used to be milk and eggs now we are just eggs - yay us! but for the first 4 years, drippy bottles, crushed goldfish crackers and parents who were in my opinion too stupid to understand the danger, much less care - meant no playgroups or birthday parties which was ok with me, i used that extra money for the speciality foods you described to feed my girl! and don't get me started on the doubting thomas' of the world...like my in-laws who now have 3 grandkids with food allergies and STILL think we are making this shit up, just to be difficult - 'cause you know, we have nothing better to do than to hover, read labels, and wipe down surfaces all freaking day because you insist on making eggs every time we enter your home...i mean seriously, how many times do i have to flood my kid with benadryl, stand at the ready with my epi pens, bathe her in cortizone cream and clean puke off your expensive rug because you decided to sneak a little egg into that dinner you promised was safe MIL? seriously, is there a number of times we have to do this before it sinks in with you...wow, sorry about that little rant, not sure where that came from! but i feel better, thanks!

    anyway, thanks for the story, it's always good to be reminded how we are not in this alone...keep writing

  47. You read my mind. Now my almost 4 year old son is only dairy allergic - but is anaphylactic - so I don't fully understand what it's like to deal with multiple allergies, but heaven bless I "get it." Other than the seemingless endless comments about lactose intolerance (NO...that is NOT the same thing, thank you!), my favorite has to be the one where a parent of one of my son's classmates said their family doesn't believe in food allergies..."We just force them to eat it until they stop reacting..." Nice! Works like a charm when the child is anaphylactic...

  48. I'm surprised no one mentioned home schooling! That eliminates an enormous amount of potential "contamination." And if I'm going to have to deal with nay-sayers, I may as well throw in the "What about socialization" crowd. I look at socialization in public school much like you see Chuck E Cheez and the play parks. Home is a peanut, fish, . . .-free zone, and I know what is going into their minds as well.

  49. I totally need a 'do not feed the gremlin ' shirt. Luckily our toddler school program is very good about the foodstuffs. I did have to have the talk with the teachers/parents and I thought some of the other parents were going to strike me down.

  50. I have totally been the asshat who forgot TWICE that my friends kid is allergic to nuts and brought dessert to a potluck with nuts or nutmeg in it. In my defense, the second time I didn't think to check the ingredients list on the candy corns because WHY ON EARTH would freakin' sugar triangles have nuts?? I learned then how difficult it must be to parent a child with food allergies. My heart goes out to those with the allergies and their parents. What a way to make the toughest job on earth that much harder.

  51. Thanks for the rant. Totally loved it and am 100% on the same page. We are right there with you. My son went elemental at 18 months. He is 4 1/2 now. Still drinks his elemental formula out of a bottle. It is the only way he will take it. Please don't feel guilty. There are others out there who have kids on the bottle at an older age.
    You gotta do, what you gotta do!

  52. After reading this, I think I understand a little what my mom went through when I was a kid. My food allergies started showing up when I was about 5 or so. And every.single.one.of.them was a food I had eaten before without problems. On top of it, the allergy-roller-coaster for me started with anaphalactic allergies.

    Add to this I went to a Catholic school, and during Lent they gave us fish every Friday. I was diagnosed with my seafood allergy the summer I turned seven (after eating fish Dad and I caught and I went into anaphalaxis.) So that year when the first Friday in Lent rolled around and I had fish on my plate, I realized I couldn't eat it - I was still too scared after what had happened that summer. The teacher yelled at me for not eating my lunch and then called home. Needless to say my mother had a conniption when I told her, "Mom, it was FISH!" Luckily for me, I was never so severe that breathing it in or touching it would kill me, so long as I was careful to wash my hands thoroughly after handling.

    Thankfully so far, my daughter has not shown any signs of food allergies, so I don't have to be that helicopter parent just yet. But I do worry sometimes that she'll develop them just like I did. Although hopefully having lived my own life with them, I'll not panic as badly as my mom did the first time.

  53. This is probably a good place to mention my son's 2nd birthday. We had definitely noticed that he got cranky and had weird bright red cheeks (now that he's verbal, we know that's terrible stomach cramps), and sometimes vomiting, when he had dairy, which I am also allergic to. Not a huge leap of intuition. At our weekly meal at my in-law's house, to celebrate his birthday, they smilingly brought out a nice big store-bought sheet cake with candles on it, had him come in so they could sing to him and he could blow out the candles, AND THEN SENT HIM OUT OF THE ROOM SO THEY COULD ALL EAT CAKE AND ICE CREAM. They had nothing for dessert that he could have, except possibly soda. I still have a hard time believing anyone at that table thought that was remotely appropriate.

    It also touched off my ferocious need to learn to bake things that taste good that are allergen-free, and thank goodness for that, as more allergies have shown up. My mom nearly died of liver failure before figuring out the *40* things she was, at 62, newly allergic to. Three more of us also fell to the wheat allergy within the year. I am now the one in our family who gets asked for recipes, because I had the longest to figure it out, and I'm a food snob, so they know if I'll deign to serve it, it doesn't taste like pureed sponges and cardboard.

    I *beg* people with allergies to let me cook for them, because I know how much it means to, for once, be able to have a safe meal that I did not have to cook. I know about cross-contamination. When people say they're vegetarian, I ask what kind. I ask about halal and kosher. I try to keep whatever someone is allergic to *completely* off the table, so they don't have to worry about the random idiot who sees nothing wrong with ignoring the provided spoon and using a corn chip (the carrot sticks are for the lady who's allergic to corn) to scoop up a big dollop of hummus.

    EVERYBODY who comes to my house eats well. Period.

  54. First, I am very sorry for all of you. It must be so hard! My daughter might be allergic to chick peas, but its not like what you are going through. My husband was allergic to everything between 4-8 years old, so I'm nervous it will happen to DD as she gets older.

    I also want to apologize for any doubting thoughts I have had in the past. I have been guilty of thinking "its can't be that bad" or "maybe he has outgrown it and you are just too scared to try" etc. Thank you for reminding me that it IS that bad and the mamas would much rather give it to their child then say no. I did not think about how heartbreaking it is for you, as the parent.

    Finally, thanks to Portia for starting this conversation. And the moth? Marvelous! You sound like me and probably have received the same shocked/appalled looks I got (you know the ones, where they look like they will pull out their phone to call Child Protective Services).

  55. My son has allergies to artificial color and flavor. OMG! It's in everything and no one believes me. I finally let my family feed him jell-o and hung out until he reacted. Only then did they FINALLY get it. Now they are totally on board. Who knew that fake vanilla was petroleum based? And so is artificial color. Yes, my shopping trips take forever. I've gotten to actually being thankful for those stores that have the natural isle. Many stores around here don't. I'll even pay the crazy prices if I can find what we can eat.
    I feel for ya!

  56. My husband and I both have food allergies and my family is rife with eczema. I watched our son after every new food just waiting in fear. He seems to have no problems with food as far as we can tell. We did have to take him to CHOP, because he was getting hives from everything. They told us some kids just get hives for a while and no one knows why. That was an AWESOME time. What he does have is skin so sensitive that even our laundry is washed in Dreft because when he snuggles he gets a rash from our clothes. And he is allergic to freaking mosquitoes. It's awful. He loves it outside and presses his nose to the glass and bangs on the door. I spray him, but it does not always work. And then he spends two days in a benedryl fog while I watch to see if they get infected. And everyone LOVES to tell me how they have no mosquito allergies and I am paranoid and kids have to be kids. And that is true. And if THEIR kid's knee blew up to three times it's size after a bite I bet they would be paranoid too. I long for the days of the DDT truck spraying poison through the neighborhood. I just hate that I cannot protect him from those teeny bloodsucking b@stards.

  57. I had food sensitivities as a child, although I'm one of the lucky ones who grew out of them except for a few easily-avoided exceptions, and nothing would have sent me into anaphylactic shock. My brother and father also have sensitivities, and although we do share a few, not all of them overlap so planning family meals was a nightmare! Now that I'm a mother I constantly expect my daughter to develop food allergies, but so far so good, much to my great surprise. Well, except for baby formula way back when, the milk-based stuff gave her hives and upset her stomach. Luckily we found a soy one that worked out until she was old enough to drink cow's milk.

  58. Do I love this piece? Yes. Is it totally 100% accurate? Even yesser. We've had problems with certain family members all along, to the point where it's just easier to cut them out of our lives than explain every.fcking.thing over and over. Sad for the kids, but it makes our life better overall. Thanks for giving a voice to the allergy moms!

  59. AMEN, sister. The worst are the family members who "forget" or say "oh, just this once." NO I will not allow you TO KILL MY KID JUST THIS ONCE. Your god-given right to eat a fucking cupcake does not supersede my kid's right to life. Oh, the RAGE I feel on this issue.

    1. Amen. Just amen. Next person that says my sister's allergy, that will practically shred her digestive system, is not a big deal will end up in a hole six feet deep.

  60. Well, I was totally depressed to see this wasn't my post (I also submitted a Allergy Mom post), but Portia's was better, so I'm dealing. (But I may need some gfcf cake!)

    I have three kids with allergies. One so bad that he can't go to school because OMG there are freakin' crumbs everywhere. Between them, my kids are allergic to gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, food coloring, berries. And one absolutely will not eat fruit. Ever. Of any sort. Yay. And I'm vegetarian. Oh, cooking is ever so much fun.

  61. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!
    My son is allergic to wheat, oats, rye, barley, egg whites, egg yolks, peanuts, dairy, soy, and artificial food colorings. I have experienced ALL of this and more.

    I nearly killed us both with my frantic elimination diet (not literally, but we both lost weight when he was only 7 months old), and I dropped from a 12-14ish to my current size 8-6. I lost HALF of my body mass eliminating all allergens to continue nursing. Anyone who has gone through that challenge and survived (wean or not) with a living, healthy child and a sane mind is a winner.

    "Can I have a cupcake?"
    "No, it would make you sick!" and the whole thought process about having not bought all the silly fairy-dust ingredients to make the anti-cupcake instead of sleeping the night before the other kid's birthday...Spot on.

  62. This was a fabulous post, so funny and 100% on the mark!

    What I love is my very well-meaning neighbors who offer my son a pretzel and then turn to me saying, "Can he have a pretzel?" Thanks very much for ruining his day and mine because of course I have to say no.

    We did find a preschool where the kids bring all their own snacks, which was a huge relief (his allergies are comparatively mild); depending on where you live you might be able to find one. Like others, I'm opting for homeschooling partly to escape the headaches of dealing with school lunches/parties/crap.

    My father found out 5 years ago that he has a form of gluten allergy called Duhring's Disease, which means he's also allergic to iodine. You know what has iodine, besides most table salt and seafood? Everything. He can't eat any kinds of peas or beans (many gluten-free flours are made with chick pea flour), no brassicas like broccoli or cabbage, and many dairy products are out, since cows are routinely given high iodine doses to prevent illness.

    *But* he's ten times healthier than he was before his diagnosis ... as long as he doesn't eat in public. So it's worth it for we mothers to stick to our guns.

    Good luck, and know there are many, many of us standing with you!

  63. Have faith - my friend's son is deathly (seriously, he will die due to the lack of a necessary enzyme) allergic to dairy. A little before he was 3, he learned not to eat ANYTHING unless his mom first approved. He will not put a thing into his mouth without checking with her (or his dad). So maybe in the near future your son will learn the dangers, and you won't have to helicopter quite as much!

  64. So I wrote this and I just wanted to say how glad I am that so many moms out there can identify. I have to say I was a little bit nervous that I'd get called out for making light of the allergy issue. But honestly, what else can you do besides laugh and live with it?

    Lady Leslie, I did the whole elim diet and also lost about 40 pounds. Fortunately I had room to lose it, but that didn't make eating nothing but potatoes, rice, and turkey any more fun. It was hard hard hard and I was absolutely torn apart that it didn't do any good for us. As tough as it was I'd have eaten even less if it would have made him feel better and let me keep nursing him. He was 9 months old and failing to thrive when the doctors finally said it wasn't working.

    We also had to find a school that let us send our own food. It was like I was asking to send firearms at most places when I said I needed him to eat nothing but what I provided.

    I identify with so much of what you guys are talking about I can't possibly comment on it all, though someone said something about slapping a muffin out of her kid's hand that made me literally laugh out loud. At any rate, I'm glad I could bring a smile to your faces and maybe open a few eyes. It's always good to know we aren't alone.

  65. Great article.

    The only thing I take issue with is that you allow your daughter to have pretzels at home but the daycare center told other parents not to send their kids in with pb&j.

  66. Can I say I love you guys? My daughter has a SEVERE intolerance to dairy. Not anaphylaxsis. If food even touches cooking spray with butter in it, she will be sick for 8-10 days. That means 8 - 10 days of diarrhea and no school.

    I have had all the same experiences with one in addition. I have had "the forgetter" You know the person who no matter how many times you tell them of the severe milk intolerance, always tells my daughter that the group is ordering pizza for dinner/having mac and cheese/has chocolate candy to give out. I feel like the jerk for always reminding her, but I do so with good reason.

    I am a hoverer as well. Kiddo just started kindergarten and it has been really hard to let go. I micromanaged every little thing and now she is eating in the cafeteria with other kids. AHHHHHHHHHH! My heart is racing just thinking about it.

    Stay strong, we are in this together. :)

  67. Informative & entertaining article!

    My only issue is that you allow your daughter to have pretzels in your home but your daycare center doesn't allow anyone to have pb&j because of your sons allergies. This doesn't seem fair at all.

  68. This is a great discussion / rant about dealing with food allergies! I count my blessings because my 5 yr old son is not scarily allergic, but still needs to avoid dairy and soy for stomach problems, and wheat and artificial colors for behavioral problems. We only started the special diet when he turned two and his reactions to food got more and more noticeable. Luckily he can have nuts so peanut butter, almond milk, and almond flour are a huge part of his diet.

    I must live a charmed life because I have not run into ANYONE who deliberately undercuts my efforts to keep my son healthy! Family, teachers, and friends have all been supportive. I live in the SF Bay Area and I think there is a general cultural awareness and acceptance of food allergies here. The only slip-ups have been when people remember one allergy but not another: like when my husband took the kids out for ice cream and remembered to get dairy-free sorbet, but put it in a cone made of wheat!

    It's been a long journey and I am not convinced that we have found everything that affects his extreme ADHD behavior and sensory integration disorder. It's so hard to tell! I am worried about starting ADHD medication and maintaining his healthy body weight with the restricted diet.

    My best GFCF recipies are for banana muffins, peanut butter cookies, and almond bread (good enough for PB&Js!). My biggest problems are casseroles, and every mom's downfall- birthday cake.

    Do you have any casserole recipies that don't use dairy?? I know of chicken cacciatore and chili. And how do you make icing without dairy or soy? Last year I ended up baking GF brownies from a mix into cupcake cups, and dusting with powdered sugar.

    from, Sarah

  69. Paige (aka Portia)October 11, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Okay at the risk of turning into one of those crazies who justifies themselves to anonymous people on the internet...

    If it makes you feel any better they are allowed to have pretzels at the day care and we don't have peanuts/peanut products at our house. They are also allowed to have all his other allergens and foods he can't eat because we haven't trialed him on them yet. They only thing we asked them not to have is peanuts and that was on the advice of his doctor.

    Nut allergies are different from other allergies. MOST of the time with MOST foods if a child is exposed a few times and the reaction is not anaphylactic it is not likely that it ever will be anaphylactic. Nut allergies are a different breed. They are unpredictable. You can be exposed and have mild reactions repeatedly and then one day out of nowhere BOOM anaphylaxis. Which is why despite the fact that he's never shown signs of anaphylaxis we still keep an EpiPen on him at all times. The peanut protein is also much stickier and hard to wash off than most allergy triggers. This is why peanut allergies get so much attention- they really are more dangerous than most (which is not said to diminish the dangers of other allergies).

    I could say more about why these steps are needed in my son's specific situation, but can we just all rest assured that I don't make arbitrary decisions about his health just to make other people's lives harder? Cool.

  70. I know some gluten free families that keep gluten free donuts in the freezer to drag out whenever their kid goes to a party where he probably can't eat the good bits.

    You might also try making some cupcakes ahead of time and freeze some of them for such events.

  71. no clarification at all as to how a society can operate "normally" for the 99% who are not disabled by reactions to what cumulatively add up to a vast percentage of the world's dietary options while accommodating the needs (real or imagined) of a tiny number of people (children or adults).

    rather than placing the blame, or responsibility, or fear, or whatever on everyone else to protect your relative from every possible exposure to whatever substance he, she, they may potentially be sensitive to, is it not up to all of you to protect your relative from the dangers faced by what is a very small number of people?

    If you read the comments, the range of substances indicates that for the sake of sensitive people we might have to limit the availability of foodstuffs everywhere so much to reassure you that hardly anything would be left to enjoy ... and even then your relative might get stung by a bee.

  72. Great post, I was just talking about this with a friend today! I have found old granola bars with peanuts in my kids pockets weeks later and it always makes me think about the peanut allergies and how easily a kid could be exposed totally on accident even in a nut free place.

    My daughter is allergic to dairy so I have just decided to keep it from all the kids since she is too young to explain it to. I think dairy is unhealthy anyway and wish I had just never addicted my older daughter to it. We have an "unhealthy" fridge in the garage with a little cheese and milk for when the allergic one is asleep. We have switched to healthier eating anyway and I find that even though the slightly less junky "healthy" snacks are more expensive that I would just waste the jumbo size from Costco anyway (overserving and throwing away leftovers etc.) Now I try to serve just a few bites at a time and not be so cavalier with the snacks.

    We just have skin rash, traveling hives, stomach problems with my daughter but it is a constant source of low level stress in your mind all the time especially combined with all the other unknown wierd problems that kids have and can't explain to you. When the kids are in great health and better moods life is so good!!I can't imagine the constant extra stress with a severe allergy.

  73. Mommies of MOMMYLAND,
    ~~Bravo~ to all of you who embrace your child's needs and adjust to them whether for a short time or a lifetime. Keep learning all you can, for knowledge on allergies should be shared. Seek always to find answers. One day all will come together and innocents will not be plagued with the horrors they deal with. A dedicated Mama will never desert their child's needs. Continue to ban together and keep the information highway open to all you can reach. Who knows.....the HERO"S in this unsolvable illness just may be the combined efforts of Women like YOU!!! Prayers UP~~~

  74. Thank You!!! That's all I can really say through the tears and huge heart beats coming from another mom of an allergy child! Just THANK YOU!!! You said it all!!!!! I wish I could wrap my arms around you and give you a huge hug!

    P.S....will you be my friend?! My only TOTALLY understanding friend!?!

  75. I AM VINDICATED!!! I have read at least two comments from fellow moms that still let their food allergic kiddo take formula or milk substitute from a bottle!!!!!!!!!! This has been my deep dark Mommy secret since my milk allergic kiddo turned two (and he is about to turn 4!) and now the TRUTH WILL SET ME FREE! Yes! My son will only drink his almond milk from a bottle! Yes! I know that kids are supposed to go off the bottle by 1! Yes! He does drink everything else from a big boy cup! Yes! I know it is potentially bad for his teeth! Yes! I have tried every.other.damn.drinking.contraption.known.to.man and he STILL won't drink it from anything except a bottle! BUT GUESS WHAT? He used to be the 25th percentile in weight and now he is the 70th percentile! And if I take away his "ba ba" he will return to the "failure to thrive" category! YES! I know you - the perfect mother - are PERFECTLY APPALLED by this but guess what? I officially don't care! As a recently converted RFML enthusiast I say SUCK IT FANCY!

    Sorry...guess I had that built up for awhile!

  76. I hear your frustration! As a school nurse and a mother of 2 kids I see on a daily basis allergies in full swing. It has taken me a while to understand the correlation between how food is grown (i.e. pesticides, genetic modification, factory farms, antibiotics use in meats & poultry) and it's direct correlation with the amount of food allergies we face today. It seems it also has a direct affect on attention disorders as well. The challenge remains constant in trying to select the "right" foods only to find out they were the "wrong" foods. The battle rages but the key remains in self awareness. Know your food, understand how it's made, processed, local, "natural" (whatever that is) etc.
    We all need some reality checks in food preparation for sure unless we all want to continue to just roll the dice in what we feed our children.

  77. Sarah:

    I'd be happy to share my dairy-and-soy free icing recipe with you! Email me at ladymeag at gmail if you'd like it. Coconut milk is heavenly in frosting and Earth Balance makes a great soy-and-dairy free butter replacement. (It has a red label and says "soy-free" on it.)

    A quick tip for making "whipped cream" - take a full-fat can of coconut milk and refrigerate it for two hours (or more), use the stuff that kind of collects and hardens at the top to whip into a whipped topping. Keep the remaining coconut water to cook with. You can use the coconut milk fat to replace whipping cream in many recipes.

    To the moms saying the kids can't have a grilled cheese - have you tried Daiya dairy, soy, casein free vegan cheese? I quite like it, actually.

  78. I have a similar issue, not life threatening. My daughter (3) Cannot have soy, gluten or dairy and some spices. So eating out is practically impossible, and birthday parties are hard. Some parents are wonderful and some just dont give a shit. HONESTLY, when I ask if you have anything gf/sf/df and you go oh no I don't when you have known my daughter for 3 years, It was enough to make me not want to see these people ever again. Her birthday party was easy, everything was gf/df/sf and egg free ( cake wasn't egg free). So everyone could eat everything. Im not alone either, it was huge in my family, now 2 of my nephews have "grown" out of it at 7 and 9. Fingers crossed my daughter will but one of my neices wont because its a problem with the bowel, and I suspect my daughters is too. Drs haven't been helpful at all, infact they doubt it too even though since going all these foods eliminated her growth has been amazing. I get so peeved.

  79. Not a doctor, no expectation that this is useful to anyone but me, but in case it is, I was reading a study a while back about using dilute bleach baths to help with eczema. Seems that while the initial flare ups are related to a wide variety of things, one of the reasons it gets so bad is the staph that gets in from the scratching. Not wanting to douse myself in bleach, I did a little research and discovered that staph doesn't like low pH.

    So, after I shower (wash hair and face with baking soda, special mild soap-free shower gel, because I'm a delicate freaking flower), I dilute a few teaspoons of lemon juice in a plastic tumbler of water and rinse my hair and body after I turn the water off. I find that in the winter especially it doesn't get rid of what we call "cave rot" but it does make the patches a little smoother and less red and itchy. I follow up with cold-pressed grape seed oil as a moisturizer, which also has anti-inflammatory properties. Without the oil it takes about three days before I'm ready to scratch my legs with a cheese grater.

    Of course, this is most helpful if you're not allergic to lemon juice or grape seed oil, as some of my friends are. YMMV, and I won't be offended at all if this sounds batty and you just ignore it. ;)

  80. AHHH this SO TRUE!!! You forgot the cart at the grocery store...it's as bad as the public play places. "It is like a frigging war zone with enemy agents waiting to spring on you and deadly land mines lurking under every surface" - this is what the whole world is like since we found out about my son's anaphylactic fire ant allergy in addition to the food ones (peanuts, dairy, eggs, wheat). Now I look like the paranoid mother that I never wanted to be. Anyways, this is a great mommyland rant!

  81. I was the kid with the allergies; it was not fun. I can still remember which parents were wonderful about it and which ones were asshats. So I get it - I do. Luckily, I outgrew my allergies and my kids don't have them.

    Here's another set of domestic enemies I want added: the totally irrational parents of allergic kids. And I don't mean the parents who are trying to keep their kids safe; I mean the really, really small percentage of them who cannot deal with the real world. My daughter has fourteen kids in her class and four of them have serious allergies. Thankfully, I think the other ten sets of parents didn't give them grief. (I can't be certain, but I never heard anything.) The problem was the parents of the set of twins with allergies. They refused to tell the other parents what the kids were allergic to because it was "between them and their doctor." They refused to tell us what foods we could buy or make to bring in so their kids could eat it. They refused to bring in food to share with the class so all the kids could eat the same things. (We tried what CheekyMomma suggested with the baker mom.) They even refused to try to provide similar foods for their kids for the parties. (Like we were bringing cupcakes, carrots, cheese sticks, strawberries and grape juice. Perhaps they could send in similar things, we thought. Maybe the boys wouldn't feel so left out.) Nope - they would rather have their kids sit there with NO FOOD AT ALL for the parties. And this started in pre-K and has continued unchanged for four years. Those poor boys sit there looking sadly on as the other kids - including the other two allergic kids - enjoy their party. It's heartbreaking.

  82. For Sarah (and anyone else dealing with a dairy allergy and looking for recipes): I suggest looking in 'kosher' cookbooks. The laws of keeping kosher require keeping meat and dairy foods separate. Therefore, recipes in most kosher cookbooks will indicate whether the recipe is 'dairy', 'meat', or 'parve' (the word ‘parve’ means that the food contains neither meat nor dairy). Even if the cookbook doesn't specifically label the recipes this way, you will see that any recipe that includes meat or poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, etc.) will not have a drop of dairy ingredients. You can probably find a few kosher cookbooks in your local library, and websites such as amazon.com sell many. If you live in an area with a large Jewish population, there will probably be kosher grocery stores (or supermarkets with a kosher section) that have foods that are labeled 'parve'. There are also ‘parve’ substitutes for things like whipping cream (in the frozen food section) and cream cheese, and there are truly non-dairy creamers (most ‘non-dairy’ creamers on the market actually contain some dairy, but those that are labeled ‘kosher parve’ are totally dairy-free). If you can’t find these products locally, try looking online. (One website is www.allinkosher.com, but there are others. Just Google ‘kosher groceries’). Hope this helps! SavtaFredel

  83. Thank you. I am sending you a huge, hypoallergenic hug. I am going through everything described here and agree with it all except the anaphylaxis part because we do have to deal with that as well. From someone who understands and loves that someone else does too!

  84. To the "Anonymous" poster at 5:56pm... 1 in every 133 Americans is celiac. Meaning? Gluten is toxic to them. It turns the plush, shag carpet-like lining of the small intestine into linoleum. That means malnutrition, autoimmune diseases, failure to thrive, and various types of cancers.
    Oh, and the "imagined" excrutiating bouts of vomiting, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and migraines.
    So. Yeah. It IS a life and death kinda thing.
    Celiac disease is also genetic, meaning if one person has it, there is a VERY high likelihood that others in the family have it, too.
    And that's just gluten. Now add casein, soy, and egg and woo-freakin-hoo.
    So, no. We are not asking the rest of the world to stay off our merry-go-round. Just leave the freakin sandwich over *there*.

    For all of you celiac/gluten intolerant families, check out the gluten free goddess blogspot. Karina is *amazing*


  85. I am very lucky in that my children don't have any severe food allergies (though we DO try to avoid artificial food coloring...it makes them hyper, but not sick). Anyway, As a person who not only eats peanut butter pretty much every day (yeah, even when I was preggo), but also feeds it to her kids (one of their favs), what the heck can I send them to school with??? I certainly don't want to make any other kids sick, but lunch meat is loaded with crap (pig lips and nitrates anyone?), I hate tuna (both the taste and the process of catching them), apparently eggs are getting to be just as dangerous to have in the same room with some kids...can someone please tell me what I can safely send my children to school with???

    I'm not trying to be snarky, I am honestly at a loss for what I can safely serve that has protein, will stay safe without refrigeration, my kids will readily eat, and won't make anyone else sick. Taking any and all suggestions! I'm sure I am not alone in wanting to know what I CAN serve instead of what I CAN'T. Thanks!


    PS, I have a friend whose son's very severe eczema was cured by the diluted bleach baths that one of the other posters mentioned. No dairy and the bleach worked a charm. Not one or the other. Both. Good luck!

  86. TRUE DAT. Wow. My daughter couldn't eat wheat, dairy, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants) and probably more. She is 5 now and has either outgrown her sensitivities (a very clear distinction from allergies as made known to me by a haughty allergist who rolled her eyes as I scoffed at the results she read us when we had my daughter's back pricked 64 individual times just to make sure) or adapted to them at a coping level. The allergist said the difference between allergies and sensitivities was allergies cause an anaphylactic reaction and sensitivities just cause reactions and discomforts but aren't life-threatening. I sort of wanted to threaten her life with the food journal we'd been keeping for over a year and a half tracking every reaction and possible cause.

    Sunday school is THE WORST!! We had to write out a form saying DO NOT FEED and verbally tell the teachers every week, and she still would get something from someone who didn't pay attention or didn't care. The weeks of hellish behavior and outbursts and irritability again and again and again made us stop going to church for a while.

    I got tired of explaining and defending to people so I just started saying it in a way that made clear their opinion and speculations were not welcome. If they pushed I would say "You're welcome to come live in my house for 48 hours and watch what happens", that usually shut them up.

    I did an elimination diet when we were still nursing and it was hell but I lost 45 pounds - bonus! And also discovered I had serious food sensitivities, too (whatdayaknow). I made a lot of stuff from scratch because I hated what was (and mostly what wasn't) offered in stores, but I was staying home at the time so it was easier. Definitely couldn't do that now.

    Love to you, lady. I will say it gets better - either his body will handle it better, or you'll adapt to that way of living and hit a groove with it.

  87. I thought I had it bad with my 8 year old son's peanut allergy, and him NEVER being invited to a Birthday party because of it. It breaks my heart for him!! But, at least he is not allergic to all food. I can't imagine the fears you all must have about everything. Geesh Good Luck to you all, I really feel for you, it must be awful!

  88. Since there are so many moms of allergic children here, I'm hoping someone can help me with a q.
    My sister just discovered that her youngest has milk/chicken/tree nuts sensitivities. She gets eczema and hives from them.
    The doc didn't prescribe epi pens or medications, just to avoid them. However, she did prescribe an inhaler to be used twice a day every day for the winter season. She doesn't have asthama, only got wheezing once from allergens plus she already had a cold. My sister is confused why her daughter has to use an inhaler when she's avoiding the foods, doesn't have a reaction and for sure is not prone to asthama as a reaction besides that one exception.

    1. allergies and asthma go hand in hand and while it may not always be a problem, it can be. And it's more a preventative measure than a reactive measure. Be glad it's only in the winter. My daughter has severe allergic reactions to 8 separate allergens and does an inhaler everyday all year round because activity causes her (what is normally never noticed) asthma to flare even tho she never has contact with any of her allergens either. And colds, or runny noses also turn a fine airway into a coffee stiry straw. It helps.

  89. How funny that we all are commenting on how this is life for us. I find it a shame that we have to live like this. You'd think there would be enough of us that we could stage some kind of revolt. hee hee ;-) I say props to you for saying everything we've all lived through. My son has anaphylactic peanut/tree nut allergies as well as eggs. He's outgrown the million others that he had previously (thank goodness). He is now almost 7, and I dread the independence he is now fighting for. I do have to trust that we've taught him to survive in this peanut world, but I can't help but hover just a little.
    And just like the Moms that say they are tired of their friends saying their children has a right to eat peanuts, I've been through that. Just a few weeks ago, a stranger came to my home for a garage sale and was ranting about the "stupid peanut allergy kid" who made it so that her daughter not only couldn't bring food items for her birthday, but didn't celebrate at all. Once she talked herself into a corner, it was discovered that she goes to our school and is in my son's classroom. I pointed over to my son and said, "see that little boy over there? the one with the fanny pack on? The fanny pack with the life-saving epipen that will save him the day you decide to be a moron and send your daughter with something stupid into his classroom that could very likely kill him? His life is the one I've been fighting for since the day he was born. His life is the one that could be taken in a heartbeat because of idiots like you that feel inconvenienced, so enjoy your daughter's birthday at home and take this as a lesson that you should probably pay attention to who is in your daughter's classroom before you step onto your stupidity high horse."
    I can't understand why she can't look at me at school functions anymore. hmmm, maybe you should think about what you say before you say it to the wrong person ;-)
    Thanks for the smile you gave me. :-)
    @Ayesha- I don't give advice when it comes to allergies for the most part because they are so different from person to person, but I highly recommend she get a second opinion and have specific testing from a pediatric allergist. Asthma happens because of allergies and isn't over the top to expect. Any allergy kid can be prone to asthma despite not being in an allergic reaction or being exposed to the allergen. Avoidance is not always the answer because there are other situations, especially with nuts, in which contact with the allergen upon the skin (from residue) can cause just as severe reaction. Hope that helps.

  90. I could have word for word written this entire blog post. I have one kiddo with very sever food allergies and then wonderful eczema that he scratches until it raw and bleeding.

    Some people don't understand, some people don't care too. All that matters is those that have to care do.

  91. Portia, you rock. Love this post! As a mom, and a adult allergic to nuts plus most of the outside world, I thank you for hovering. I hate that somehow it's not cool to actually MOTHER our children? Are these the same judgmental folks that lament our lost youth and complain about teen drugs/crime/pregnancy? In my experience they are ...and think they just a little jealous (guilty themselves) of the authentic nurturing you are giving your son. Shallow people put others down because of their issues...not yours. Hugs to you and your kids...and a reminder to love yourself as much as you love your kids. :)

  92. I am totally one of the "curer" moms, but I come from a different angle, being that my son has a peanut allergy. So I'm the one that is always reading the articles about research being done into food allergies. I just read one that is pretty exciting, who knows, maybe there is hope for our kids some day...

  93. Preachin' to the choir! Love it and sadly been there done that for years.

    I wonder why it is that food allergic kids get so little sympathy?

    Somethings get easier and some get harder with age. I think mostly you are just more used to the situation and the older they are the less they put random floor snacks in their mouths.

    My favorites are when people who ask if my milk/egg/wheat/pineapple alleric daughter can have lactose free milk or WHOLE wheat crackers. Yeah, whole wheat I'm pretty sure is just extra gluten-y and lactose is not the problem its the MILK that's the problem.

    Even though my 2 yr old has those allergies I'm just soo very happy that she doesn't have the peanut allergy my oldest has (he outgrew his milk and egg allergy this year at age 7). Nevertheless I carry around 2 epi pens at all times and unfortunately I've used them on both kids at one time or another.

    At least my middle child is not allergic to anything!

    Oh and I'm going to a birthday party on Saturday...we will be bringing our own cupcakes :)

  94. Oh I forgot another enemy: The School Administrator who thinks you can "kill" peanut "germs" with lysol.

    ::palm to forehead::

    Bleach water on a rag only spreads them around and doesn't help the kids who will have anaphalaxis if someone with peanut fingers touches him or leans on a peanut smeared table/door knob or whatever else little kids touch with peanut hands.

  95. Wow, yes, that's me! Thanks for writing about what it's like for all of us!

  96. Mom of almost 2 year old here who is allergic to top 8. I've been on an elimination diet and nursing him for 2 years. My kid is now afraid of food, because he's worried it will make him 'itchy'. He's had two ana reactions.

    I bake every once in a while, cut it up and freeze it in baggies and then when there is a birthday party I pull the baggie out of the freezer and it thaws on the way to the party.

    Check out: www.kidswithfoodallergies.org, it will change your life.

    Hang in there mama. And as to the protein question: Hummus? Salami bites? Turkey? Beef Jerky?

  97. OOOO! I have another Domestic Enemy of the Food Allergy Mama!

    The Deli Counter Staff/Grocery Store Food Sample People: While usually good intentioned, please stop trying to hand my kid food - pretty please? We had an encounter with a well meaning gentleman at the lunchmeat counter at BJs once when we were buying a lot of deli items for a party. When he sliced the first meat, he went to hand my son a slice and I said "That is very kind, but my son has a severe food allergy and can't have lunchmeat unless the slicer is cleaned because of cross contamination - but thank you." He proceeded to try to hand my son a slice of every.single.frickin.item we ordered that day... And I had to say "no" to every.single.frickin.slice :(

  98. You did a fabulous job of capturing the day to day emotion of having a child with food allergies. My daughter is now 9, and I can tell you it DOES get easier--my guilt is less (I've had to work hard on that) and she understands more and is more careful than she was as a toddler. Hang in there. And remember, free (especially unsolicited) advice is only worth what you paid for it, so at least you don't have to feel guilty about ignoring the crazy people telling you how to feed your child!

  99. My 2 year old has peanut/and egg allergy. We have to strictly avoid all nuts and anything with egg.
    It somehow came up with a stranger at a grocery store when I was looking at probably the 100th label that said "may contain nuts" at TJs when the person said to me "aren't you afraid he'll be a weird social outcast at school?"
    Whuck am I supposed to say to that? And no, it hadn't crossed my mind until I was reminded there were crazy, cruel, idiots in the world like you and probably your kids who will be in my sons class. And what exactly are you saying? I should just tell him to "get over it" so he can fit in?
    People. Are. Stupid.

  100. Mommy Guilt is a bitch, isn't it? I hate it.

    We're on, essentially, the same sort of track, but for a completely different reason.

    Boy Child has a metabolic disorder, meaning he doesn't store sugars properly from his food, and also making him highly chemically sensitive. He's on a 3500 calorie a day diet. (Yes, you read that right.) He's going on 8. He's 37 pounds. Clearly, something is going on here. BUT, most people, when they look at him, think, oh, look at the adorable five year old.

    Wrong. Try again.

    So... I read everything on the back of the labels. I have to choose food for him that is chemically safe, and yet is high in calories. (Lemme tell you how big a pain in the ass *that* is.)

    Anywho... So yes, I have the mommy guilt. The what should I do guilt. The what did I do wrong guilt. And it's a pain in the ass.


  101. To those asking what to send to school in place of pb&j, try sunbutter. It's delicious and made in a nut free place. My son and I love that stuff. And while I understand that children are picky eaters, please try to keep in mind that most peanut allergy children will go into ana shock if they come into contact with nuts. So basically I'm trying to be nice and say, anything but peanut butter, the options are endless! Turkey, ham, salami, bologna, sunbutter, beef jerky, Vienna sausages, hummus. It's one meal and one snack a day and each day your daughter doesn't bring pb&j, it saves a child's life. It's so hard to send my son to school knowing he may not come back because parents have "picky eaters".

  102. My 2 daughters and I have celiac disease and are allergic to dairy and soy. I cannot believe how much I can relate to this post, and the sheer stupidity of the @sshole who posted about the rude comments. I don't wish this disease and the allergies on anyone, except people like that. Reading that comment made me want to cry. As I lay here sick and in pain because I somehow managed to gluten myself (but not my kids thank God!) and think about the people that just don't get it. When my oldest started kindergarten this year, the food administrator insisted she needed a drs note to exclude her from the afternoon milk break. I said I brought one in. Yes she says, but that states no dairy. It needs to state no cows milk. ?!?! Besides the fact that I should be able to say what goes in my kids body. I'm her mom, im not going to have the kids on this diet because its fun, or easy! And another thing that annoys me, when I get glutened and comment to someone, anyone, that I just don't feel great today, the response is always 'me neither'. Oh what? You're a little tired? A little sore? Try having an autoimmune disease buddy. Trust me, you wouldn't even be at work gritting your teeth through the pain. You'd be home in bed or in the ER. We're used to dealing with pain!

  103. Sounds horrible but it helps hearing about other families with allergies....We have run into all the mentioned enemies many times and even a few more. We are THAT family. Me with anaphylaxis seafood allergy....did I mention I'm from Hawaii and half Japanese? My husband has a rather severe case of RADS which actually forced him to take a disability retirement. Chemicals, smoke, dust....it all sends him running. My son is dealthly allergic to anything with fur. "Dog" was his first word. And my daughter has almost ridiculous seasonal allergies....she is by far the luckiest in our family. Her eyes may swell shut but she can breathe.

    The good news is that there is ONE vacation spot we can go to with minimal risk of problems. Disney World.....They have an entire department dedicated to food allergies. They are very concerned about the comfort and care of all their guests and will go the extra mile for you. Yes, it is expensive and does take some planning but I highly recommend it for families like ours. The Disney Cruise Line is also excellent dealing with allergies. Hope this helps.

  104. Tiffany Taylor: Sunbutter, got it...I will give it a go. But anything else? Seriously, I try to avoid lunch meat because it is chock full of chemicals, that isn't a safe option for my kids (youngest boy has kidney issues, we try to keep things as natural as possible). What *DO* "allergy moms and dads" send their kids off to school with? If you were having another child over for a play date, what would you be serving? How do we get protein into our growing kids safely? Hummus is chick peas and from what I understand, that is just as bad as peanuts for some kids...

    I really want to be proactive and helpful to other Moms out there and NOT put their children at risk.



  105. Thanks for your post, our son has anaphylactic rxns to milk, eggs, all nuts, and is allergic to heaps of other stuff. We're off to our 9th toddler partythis year and I haven't made his stuff yet! We bring everything for him, cake, crackers dried fruit, soy choc, any thing I can think of! He usually has lots of fun while we are on super alert. Only 8am now and i'm already tired. My love and hugs to all you other allergy parents. Such hard work but still worth it

  106. 'Food allergies weren't really diagnosed in the past like they are now. It seems like everyone has them now, but people have ALWAYS had food allergies! The people that give us a hard time don't know schmidt!"

    As a 33 year old with severe anaphylactic peanut/treenut allergies, and legume intolerance, amen! When my mom tried feeding me peanut butter for the first time in 1978, I turned into a raspberry, and it's only gotten worse. I remember Christmases at my aunt's house, where she stuffed turkey with pignoli nuts, because she thinks she's Martha Stewart, and I can just "eat around them."

    It gets better, I promise. My husband gave up peanut butter for me, and before we met he considered it a food group. I've become an expert at doing just about everything without touching anything with my bare skin. I can ride the NYC subway - standing - without having to grab onto the pole for balance. You learn to cope and deal with more challenges than you've ever thought possible and come out on the other side stronger.

    Also, you're raising kids with awesome empathy skills.

    Cat @ 10:40
    "I'm not trying to be snarky, I am honestly at a loss for what I can safely serve that has protein, will stay safe without refrigeration, my kids will readily eat, and won't make anyone else sick. Taking any and all suggestions! I'm sure I am not alone in wanting to know what I CAN serve instead of what I CAN'T. Thanks!"

    Sunflower seed butter, soy butter, and pea butter are all good substitutes that won't go bad at room temperature - http://www.peanutfreeplanet.com/Peanut_Butter_Alternatives_Substitutes_s/129.htm?searching=Y&sort=5&cat=129&show=280&page=1. If any of those is acceptable for the kids in class, then try them. If dairy is an acceptable food, you can also get some of the shelf stable cheese products, if you're into that. My husband adores those Laughing Cow things on bread with tomatoes.

    Also, you can buy one of these self cooling bento boxes - http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/kitchen/d67f/?srp=1. I have one for work and I can't imagine not having it. It really keeps everything super cold for hours with no messy icepack. Good luck and thanks for being a considerate mom :)

    -Emily Sara

  107. Especially loved this rant because I was recently diagnosed with food allergies at 35. Yes, 35. You know that 2% of people who have food allergies as an adult? I'm there. Anyways - just a word of encouragement. Our Cub Scout Pack has an allergy kitchen. Once I got diagnosed, I became uber-aware of other peoples allergies and found out there were 3 other families avoiding the campouts due to allergies. So we bought our own stove, pots & pans, and a dedicated dutch oven, e-mail the menu with product names to all before we go shopping and us moms run that kitchen. So far we've been able to do an almost identical meal for everything they've offered on the other side (affectionately known as the dark side) and sometimes our kids get extra treats, just because.

  108. If a parent is warned not to send peanuts in their kid's lunch and does anyway, we need to hold that parent personally responsible for the reactions of other kids. Knowingly introducing something that will kill someone in any other context is manslaughter. It won't be until we prosecute these actions as what they are--crimes--that we will achieve better understanding. At the very least, if my kid were to react to something that other parents had been told not to send their kids to school with, you can bet once the dust settled I'd be on the phone with a lawyer to sue not the school, but the parent directly, for trying to kill my kid. There is no reason why 1 in 13 kids needs to live the way this author described. I say that as an adult with food allergies since I was a toddler, who came from a long line of family with food allergies (long before the diagnosis existed).

  109. Yes, I totally understand about people not believing how bad it is. My 2nd son has medium milk allergies. Not awful, just frustrating. My SIL basically doesn't believe me. Well guess what? My kids no longer get to go there without me. They're 2 and 3. If my son has milk he'll have burning diarrhea for a couple days. Why subject a little 2 year old to that because they think I'm exaggerating?? Anyway, for those moms looking for an egg and dairy free cake...not gluten free tho... Google "crazy chocolate cake". It's awesome!

  110. Can I get an Amen? We haven't been to any family events since my daughter was 6 months. I am allergic to life (it seems) and so is she. I feel you, I understand, and you just made me holler with laughter. God bless you all from Alabama.

  111. I LOVED reading this post and I DOUBLE LOVED reading all these comments! It seems like I'm the only mom in town whose (three) kids have multiple food allergies, so it's SO REFRESHING to hear someone else say what I've been thinking all along. My three boys are allergic to gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, molds, and a bunch of specific fruits and veggies (apples, carrots, grapes, and lots more). My husband and I both have multiple food allergies as well, plus asthma, so the poor kids had no chance :( I had a MIL who actually picked up a food FROM THE FLOOR and hand it to my two year old son to eat, after I had SPECIFICALLY told her not to feed it to him. I was absolutely speechless, but at least had the presence of mind to stomp over to them, snatch the food out of his little hand (sorry buddy) and slam it into the trash hard enough to take the bottom out of the can. (Tee hee, that felt good!)

    You go get 'em girls! :)

    Lisa @ Allergy Free Vintage Cookery

  112. I feel like I could have written this myself! I used to love grocery shopping, now I could kill every maker of every product for making me need new glasses just to read the fine printed label of ingredients. Soy and dairy are HARD to cut out and I know raising 3 boys and one on the way while going to school myself I dang sure don't have time to make everything from scratch. I need a personal cook just for my almost 2 year old who can't have anything we can.


  113. Yes, yes, yes. I am, fortunately, a steam-roller of a conversationalist; I can shut ANYONE down with facts, enthusiasm, and blinding logic from a brilliant smile... but still, I've seen them all.

    As others mentioned, the awesome solution to the birthday-party issue is the freezer. I bake a batch of two dozen cupcakes every so often, and put them four at a time into a Ziploc freezer bag. I now can attend at least six birthday parties before having to re-up (because *I* can't eat what my younger child can't, as long as he's nursing... and I have two children... and my husband would rather not contaminate himself for the rest of us).

    Fortunately, my husband and I are both only children, so the grandparents are kind of stuck accommodating us. Still, it's always an uphill battle, and it takes so much to just communicate how TIRED I am of having to cross-examine everyone all the time before I eat anything I didn't buy and prepare myself.

  114. My two teenagers and I are allergic to corn and soy. We haven't eaten a bite from anyone else's kitchen (including relatives) since the realization. One thing I would like to mention to allergy moms with really young children: Teach them to say no to authority figures! That is possibly the hardest part of growing up allergic. Imagine being 14 and having to stand up to an authority figure (teacher or friend's parent) who is trying to pressure you into eating something you know is unsafe because they refuse to believe it contains your allergen. If we have trouble with doubters, think about how difficult it is for our kids......You'll soon realize that your child's ability to stand up to authority figures will dictate when they're old enough to go places without you.

    Also, the hardest part about corn allergy is that even doctors and "experts" don't understand it (and don't want to face it because all their remedies contain corn) and no one realizes how prevalent corn is our society. We don't just have to avoid processed foods, but also most of the fresh food in stores is contaminated with corn in some fashion. It leaves me exhausted sometimes because we can't even trust produce or meat to be unadulterated. Perfume, hand sanitizers and cleaning products are our sworn enemies and extremely hard to avoid in public - the detergent aisle of our local grocery store might as well be the seventh circle of hell. And why is it that people who would never dream of keeping their kids in a room full of gasoline fumes will douse themselves with ethanol fumes and parade themselves into my home and act like I'm crazy for getting upset about it? Having a Southern holiday get-together is hard enough without food, but imagine one without hugs.....all because people balk at spending one day of the year without perfume or scented deodorants.

    After reading this post and the comments, I think we allergy moms need to band together and turn the world on it's ear. Why should we accept that anyone who is interested in food ingredients is treated like a freak? Isn't it much more freaky to eat food indiscriminately without an ounce of curiosity about what's in it?

  115. I could have written this myself. I was actually crying when I read it - it's so rare to find someone else who completely "gets" it. My 4-year-old son is allergic to milk, soy, eggs, wheat, barley, treenuts, peanuts, coconut, fish, shellfish, rice, oats, safflower oil(bye bye, Enjoy Life), mustard, tomatoes, chickpeas, pineapple, bananas, sesame, green peppers, peas,rye, and a few things I am still trying to identify. My son could eat nothing (just drank Neocate) from age nine month to 18 months. He still drinks Neocate, but only out of one of those sippy cups with a bottle-ish spout (and that's a new development...it was bottles until three months ago). He will NOT drink it out of a cup, and I said screw it. It sucks, it's terrifying, and it is isolating. I shared this link on my Facebook profile. THANK YOU!!!

  116. Holler! I have two boys with severe, multiple food allergies. When people ask what my oldest son is allergic to, I list a few then stop and say over a dozen. I should instead practice rattling the list off. Or vomiting up the info, like you say! That will get the doubters to shut up. I am also beginning to realize that people assume food allergy reactions are just minor annoyances, like a runny nose. I have begun describing the serious, life-threatening reactions my sons have had (4 ana between the two of them and they are 4 and 6 yr old!). It seems to put things in perspective for them. I could go on and on. Great post. You're not alone!

  117. Thanking you for this blog and have shared link with our food allergy support forum (FAS = FoodAllergySupport dot com). ;-)

  118. Thanks for this!!! My 3 yr old has food allergies... ready... the all common dairy.. ok we deal with that OK... but here is the one of HELL.. my 4th child my only son is allergic to SUGARS!!! All of them for crying out loud there is a "sugar" in toothpaste! Life is great! People think I am crazy!!! But I guess I am... I kindly explain to people who roll their eyes or make that behind the hand comment... if they would like to come and clean up the never ending vomit or the mess he makes in his pants because he can not get to the BR fast enough... OR if they would like to take him for the next day and listen to him cry and tell them 100 times his belly hurts. Sure go ahead and give him that Chocolate milk! ;)

    Harvest, Alabama MOM

  119. Bless your heart and his too! I can't even imagine how hard this must be on you and your family! Big hugs!

  120. Omg, it is a never ending battle. We just found out this past summer my sweet baby is allergic to just about everything....including palm and coconut oils and anything made from them....including shampoo, and soap, and lotion, and every flipping thing in the universe. One day it will be easier, it has to get easier, right??

  121. Love it! Try being a nursing mom to a food allergy baby who works as a flight attendant! Figure out what to eat for 6 days straight with no refrigeration, and having to basically carry it all with you while avoiding dairy, egg, soy, corn and peanut! Oh, and while hauling your breast pump everywhere, too! Yippee, y'all. So, to some of the commenters, I don't expect the world to cater to my sons needs, but 1. Could you not make me feel weird for bringing my own food and 2. Could FAMILY be respectful enough to provide ONE dish at family gatherings that we could all eat? Just one? Sigh...Portia, you are right on. Commenters, (most) are right on. Keep being awesome mommies and here's a group prayer for outgrowing allergies! Or, alternatively, a worldwide movement that recognizes that overly processing foods and putting crap that isn't necessary into foods is bad and starts making mass produced foods that are made the way we would make them from home. Frankly, I think outgrowing allergies is more likely, though. Thanks for a great laugh, and for letting us know we're not alone!

  122. My son doesn't have allergies, but I almost cried at the "i have cupcake mommy" part...cause I can totally hear it in my 2year old's voice.

  123. I have a 5yo just diagnosed with a peanut allergy. My stepmom who was dx'd celiac this year gets it. She KNOWS that EVERY label MUST be read EVERY time. The rest of the family looks at me like I grew a nipple on my forehead when I try to explain it and eosinophilic esophagitis when they ask. I end up saying, "Just don't give him any food unless I read the label, OK?"

  124. My kid is allergic to CARROTS, of all things. I usually cook from scratch anyway (I am diabetic, highly sensitive to soy and most vegetable oils, and moderately sensitive to gluten), so it's easy enough to avoid carrots there. But surprisingly hard to avoid them in other settings... because it's not a common allergen, and carrots are often used as flavoring (under "natural flavors"), as a colorant ("natural colors"), and then they get thrown into seemingly harmless things like spaghetti sauce or fruit juice or even kid's vitamins. Because it's a carrot, darn it, and it's a vegetable, and we must make certain our kids have hidden vegetables in, well, everything. (And, since carrots are mostly sugar, if you add carrots to something you get a sweet flavor without having to add as much refined sugar, so you can claim your product is "reduced sugar"). Also, unlike the more common allergens that everyone has heard of, a carrot allergy is seen (even by some other moms of allergic kids) as "fake." "Oh, yes, MY son hates carrots too! That's why I add carrot puree to my spaghetti sauce and my baked goods, otherwise he won't eat them." Well. That would explain why, after having a nice gluten-free cupcake at your party, my kid was covered in hives and puking/pooping uncontrollably for two days. Thanks for clearing that up. I've started cringing every time somebody offers an "all-natural" or "organic" treat, because it's a fair bet that there's a carrot in there somewhere.
    Fortunately, he seems to be less sensitive lately, so I'm hoping he eventually outgrows it.

  125. tonight, my daughter was rushed to ER due to her having a playdate who brought a PEANUT BUTTER sandwich! My daughter is allergic to peanuts. She is six years old.
    For the person who asked what to send for lunch - my daughter has a thermos and we fill it with rice, some meat from the night before and veggies all warmed up before putting in the thermos. She also has a yogurt and a fruit.
    I am so tired of other people and family saying that I am being paranoid.

  126. I must say, very well written and informative. I am hosting a PTA bingo night, and recieved an email from a parent "I was wondering if there will be food at the Bingo night? Last year, I came with my daughter who has a peanut/nut allergy and there were food items that she can have a severe reaction to. I'd appreciate if we can just ensure that its safe for her to be there." and I was taken aback. I have 4 kids, none of which have allergies, but the preschool we go to is a peanut free campus, so I get that. I was unaware of allergies to wheat etc.

    I posted the question on my facebook page "is it up to the person with the allergy or the event they are going to, to ensure the 'safety' of the person? (I have a parent seemingly grumpy at ME for the fact that her child has a nut allergy and at a previous PTA event there was food that possibly could have caused a reaction...and wants me to 'ensure her safety'. None of my kids have allergies to anything, so I am clueless on this issue.)" and a friend of mine gave me a link to your blog. I want EVERY family to be able to attent and have fun (this is more of a Family Fun Night and NOT a fundraiser!) I am more than willing to ensure a peanut free environment (like I said, I've been use to that for 3 years now), am I doing enough for both sides if I offer to set aside tables as either 'for allergy familes' or 'no food here' tables as far from the food as possible? If the parent had contacted me sooner, I may have been able to change the time of the event so that it wasn't dinner time. I was planning on having Pizza and possibly subs, with some chips and cookies. But my friend pointed out that the wheat and or flour from the pizza just being in the air might be enough to cause this child to have a reaction. Is there any type of 'party food' you would be able to suggest?

    I can't tell you how much this is bothering me! I do not want any family to miss out on fun if there is ANYthing in my power that I can do. I will be doing another bingo night in March, what if I made it a "Bring your own dinner" kind of thing? Any and all suggestions you have would be appreciated.


  127. Hi Chrissy,

    Generally speaking, for many nut allergies it would not be sufficient to have a separate table, as people eating the nut-based foods would have it on their hands and it would be spread to everything else- tables, door knobs, serving utensils, etc. However, this is something that is individual to each person. For example, my son was fine being AROUND peanuts until his reactivity ratcheted up several notches and the docs told us to keep him away from them altogether.

    Wheat allergies don't tend to be quite as dangerous in that way. Again, though this is something individual to each person. I can't say the child you are thinking of isn't highly reactive to wheat because I don't know.

    I think in your case (and in the case of anyone trying to accommodate a person with food allergies) your best bet would be to contact the families with allergies and talk to them directly about what steps would make THEM feel safe. In general, I think that is all any mother of a food allergic child can expect and is much more than we often get.

    Open communication on BOTH SIDES of the discussion will do the most to ensure the safety of ALL OUR KIDS.

    Thanks for caring and making an effort. I can't tell you how much that is appreciated, even when it doesn't work out.

  128. Allergic Vegetarian here... (allergicvegetarian.com)

    Thanks for posting this! I loved it! I have a dad who thinks that my food allergies are "all in my head". I've always felt left out of family gatherings because other people with money, gets lots of free food left overs, and I have to bring my own food, and never get left overs. Even mashed potatoes are contaminated with the meat fork.

    I'm not sure if this was mentioned or not, but some people who need Elemental Formula, pour it into them through a tube attached to their body. I know this isn't ideal, but is an alternative.

    BTW, I'm an older single person due to food allergies. Never found someone who cared enough to accommodate me. And, I decided I'd rather be single then date a "me'ist" who refuses to give up eating the foods I react to very severely. I react to the entire Mustard family, cinnamon, alcohol/vinegar, peroxide, meats, poultry and anything that walks on land or sea, or flies in the sky. The other allergies I have to ingest enough of before I'll react, so not as concerned.

    Just in case someone who is Republican and in Office reads this: It would be AWESOME if all food and drink labels required EVERY ingredient to be listed, including all spices and that no one would have the proprietary right to "lies of omission" anymore. (See can of tuna and "veggie broth" where you think it only contains Soy, but actually contains other secret ingredients that aren't even alluded to in any way.)
    Thanks! :D

  129. My 12 year old has no allergies. My six year old is allergic to half the tree nuts. My 3 year old is allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, dairy, egg, soy, shell fish, sesame, and legumes. Pretty sure I'm forgetting something, but yeah, it's been quite the roller coaster. Thank you for the funny rant. I loved it.

  130. I'm not sure if anyone is actually going to see this, as it is such an old post, but I just saw it. I have to say, thank God my only son does NOT have any allergies, but he has many friends that do have them, so I am sensitive to all that you have to do to protect your children, hovering, reading labels, etc. God bless all of you moms that have to deal with these terrible allergies - and I pray for a cure for all of your children.

  131. Yeah, I'm getting in on this old post too. Lived with my sons severe food allergies for 15 years now. No signs of 'growing out of it'. The doubters always drove me crazy. "would you like to drive my kid to the ER when he can't breath after eating that piece of candy you said won't hurt him?" I still remember my fear as he started kindergarten. The teacher would not let me pass out a note at parent orientation because it didn't get approved by the principal. My advise to you moms just getting started with this: Become active in volunteering in the classroom. Become the 'head' room mom or party planner. You can take care of the food, let other moms handle games & decorations. Our district does not allow home made goodies. All has to be store bought in original package. That makes it harder for other moms if they need to shop -they freak out. I know if you are a working mom, this may not be possible, but you can still supply some of the food. When I received the email list for the class parents, I sent a mass email to all explaining the situation and a list of suggested safe snacks (including Brand names) when it was their turn for snack. I also asked if I could be informed of bdays when kids brought in cupcakes. Of course, not all parents informed me but most teachers were pretty good about remembering. But its heart breaking when your child comes home to say everyone was eating cupcakes while he had his pretzels. I will be honest and say, it does not get easier. Lots of communication with parents before bday parties, sleepovers, outings. And you can't just drop your kid off at a party without going in an educating the parents. And the look on their face when you show them where his epi-Pen is "just in case". I can't tell you how many times I have had to order, pick up, drop off safe pizza at a bday party)(or make my own) so my kid could 'fit in' and eat pizza too. I did everything I had to do to keep my son safe. But all along, you know that they are always going to feel different. Their cupcake looks different, their pizza looks different, can't eat my Halloween candy, etc... We are moms, we love our kids, we have to do what we have to do, mostly without complaining, its just part of our life once you've gotten used to the idea of this new way of living. I've cried only a couple times during this 15 years so this post is kind of my outlet. New challenges are in front of us now. I think the allergies have not helped my son with his confidence. I always wished he were an advocate, but he would much rather hide his allergies than educate people. He doesn't like carrying his epi-Pen and he would rather starve than explain his allergies or try to get ingredients when out with friends. And a freshman in high school, kissing will someday (if not already) be in the picture.. brings a new meaning to 'safe sex'. And of course, a new worry when off to college.
    I feel for all you young moms who are just discovering your kids allergies. You will feel scared, angry, frustrated & exhausted. Sometimes you may even feel proud. (I,ve thrown some pretty good birthday parties & made some pretty awesome looking cakes in his younger days). But you'll get through it..after all, you are a mom. It's just everybody else we need to worry about.

  132. Dear moms,

    I happened to stumble upon this post when I was depressingly browsing to find a solution/help an ear to my problem.

    I have a daughter with severe food allergies. we have found out 29 so far. I am scared to do more tests right now. Life has been tough.

    I come from India. My family or my husband's family have no allergies. I did not understand allergies till my daughter was diagnosed. I did not know food allergies existed.

    I nursed my child exclusively for first nne months and life was HELL for us. she gets severe eczema and breaks out head to toe and scratches herself raw.
    Then she got infected with staph. The whole family got it. I got mastitis from staph. I got it three times in 9 months. My husband got MRSA. We started taking showers with hibiclens everyday. I still developed a cyst from mastitis in my breast, which bothers me even today.

    Then we went to India to visit family. I cannot begin to tell you teh change in my baby's skin and even her attitude. She stopped scratching, she would actually play. I realised that she is really a cheerful child. With great difficulty we decided to leave her there with my patents for few months. She did very good. No flare up nothing. When we brought her back here, she got it all back. this time warts too. and staph again. I sent her back again.

    Now after all tests and everythign we know that she has 29 food allergies that we know of so far. Milk,whaet,eggs,nuts,tomato,all berries, all citrus fruits. All preservatives. She cannot eat anythign that come out of a packet. We make everything at home from scratch. She is allergic to baking soda too so cant have any baked goods.

    Now you would want to know how she did so well in India. India is diferent. We all cook there everyday. The lifestyle is like that. Not every mother is working. Things are just different there. I know that if I send her back she will do just fine there. She is 3yrs old, I missed seeign her grow up. I don't know what to do. We moved to USA to settle here. I just needed to vent. Thanks for reading.

    1. Anonymous, I hope you're subscribed to comments so you can see my reply......Your daughter is probably only allergic to corn. When you describe the eczema and skin problems and allergies to everything and the improvement when visiting India, it makes me think of the long road to diagnosing our corn allergy. If she had the scratch allergy test, she would show false positive for everything tested because the testing medium contains corn derivatives. All of those things you mention are commonly contaminated with corn in this country as well making it even more complicated. There is corn in the medicine (all OTC and Rx), water, household products, cooking staples like salt and flour and dairy and produce. It's in everything and it's almost impossible to avoid. Since it isn't a top eight allergen, it can be used in the processing and packaging of foods without being listed as an ingredient. Hidden corn is the bane of my existence and has ruined such innocent sounding foods like: coffee, olive oil, oatmeal, fresh peppers, baby carrots, yogurt, tomato paste, saltines, bottled water, juice, all meat (from the grocery store), jam, cheese, yeast, pickles, condiments. I go out of my way to find corn-free staples for my family and do most of my shopping at the farmers market instead of the grocery store. Even though we go to such great lengths, we still deal with allergic reactions on a regular basis because of the prevalence of corn in the outside world. Most people don't want to cook every morsel from scratch while living without bandaids, perfume, fast food, soft drinks, lattes, fabric softener, hand sanitizer, tylenol, cosmetics, hair conditioner, and all the other millions of things we don't allow in our house, but until we can move to a country that doesn't subsidize corn, we have no choice.

    2. DEAR kc,

      Thank you sooooo much for replying. Thank you !! Thank you !!

      We did blood test for her,not scratch test. Not sure if that makes any difference.

      Milk,wheat,eggs and nuts show instant reaction. She breaks out everywhere in about 30 seconds. Anything that is derived from these above items are also allergens.

      In any case if everything is contaminated with corn. Then her life becomes hell here. While in India she enjoyed the freedom of free eating. She would drink milk and even eat store bought ice cream. Cakes and pastries are not a problem at all. I baked a banana cake at home here and she reacted to it.

      I am torn between sending her to India and miss her like anything or keep her here and bring down the quality of her life.

      I am not from here, so I have the need to ask. Has food allergies been always a problem here. In India, hardly anyone has food allergies. During my 12 years of schooling and 5 years of college and 3 yrs of working in India,I have never seen a person with food allergy. Intolerence yes, but not like this.

      Did this start recently ? or has been there forever ?

      Thanks again for your previous response.

    3. I think food allergies are growing rapidly here. It seems like everyone I meet has someone in the family with allergies and I suspect a lot of people are walking around with undiagnosed allergies. They think they have sinus problems or IBS or fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue or eczema or rheumatoid arthritis when all those can be allergic reactions. Doctors are woefully uninformed and the average consumers has no idea what they are eating. It is getting more and more difficult to find pure food of any kind. There is so much corn cross contamination when it comes to packaged foods and there is so much corn pollen in the air. It can be so difficult when you find out stuff like corn oil is commonly used as a defoamer in maple syrup....safety seals on spices are adhered with corn adhesive.....citrus fruits and bell peppers are coated with corn wax.....mushrooms are grown on a corn medium......antibiotics are grown on corn......soaker pads in meat are saturated with corn-derived citric acid.......enzymes for making cheese are corny......vitamin carriers are usually corn-based so anything enriched or fortified is out.

      Now the new "eco-friendly" and biodegradable packaging means even more corn to try to avoid. I now put a note on all my internet orders that I am allergic to corn so I cannot tolerate biodegrable packing peanuts. We also have to avoid bottled water in those crinkly thin bottles (well, most water has corn in it, anyway).

      I found out most of this on the Avoiding Corn Forum. I go there for the latest hidden corn information and also moral support. This can be a really difficult allergy to deal with and you need people that will help you through it and give you ideas to keep your daughter safe. Your daughter may turn out to be truly allergic to all those things you listed, but I'd try to get the corn out of her life to see if it makes a difference. Your remarks about how she can tolerate those things in India makes me think that corn and/or all food additives is the real issue.

  133. Having been sucked into RFML via elsewhere on the interwebs am galloping back through posts, hence Late Comment Being Late.

    With idea of offering some hope to the poster (should she happen past again)/anyone else with The Fear about up-growing of mini-allergics in terms of activities:

    I'm a Brownie Leader (in the UK), which means I spend one evening a week (+ assorted weekend days + the odd spell away) herding 7-10 year old girls. At the moment we have two girls in the Unit who're epipened up, both for nut allergies. We also have me, The Owl Who Dies When Exposed To Milk. This, however, is an actual delight to work round in comparison to the additional needs of our former Brownie who had arghmadpanicDEATH (aka anaphylactic) allergies to: all dairy produce, eggs, fish, gluten, all nuts, peanuts & wheat (yes, separate from the gluten thing; no, I'd not known that was possible either).

    Superallergic Brownie had never taken part in cookery activities outside her home. She'd also never been to a party where she didn't have to take her own food. She did both those things with Brownies. Because, frankly, we are a bit awesome & also we are FEARLESS. Or rather, have the right amount of fear so we didn't say "this is impossible! she will have to sit in the corner & draw pictures of delicious food while the others make then eat delicious food!" but nor did we say "oh, well, am sure it'll be fine if we pick the nuts out, right?"

    A few weeks into her time at Brownies we ran a meeting about St Nicholas Day. Basically, on the 6th December children in various European countries get given sweets by St Nicholas. Presumably is Santa's warm-up for the 24th. Anyway, at the end of the meeting we gave the girls chocolate buttons. Superallergic Brownie got Special Death-Free Chocolate Buttons. First time she'd been included like that & she just looked gobsmacked. Gobsmacked, but delighted.

    First time we did cookery with Superallergic Brownie (making mini pizzas) we gave her Mummy the options of i) keeping SAB home that week; ii) having SAB come to Brownies & spend the evening working on other things; iii) SAB coming to Brownies & cooking. Then if she went for iii) the options extended: would Mummy like to come? If so did she want to just sit in a corner or would she like to help out? Would she prefer to buy things herself & be refunded; or would she be happy for us to do the shopping? Did she have any particular recommendations for brands SAB prefered? SAB's Mummy came that time & helped out & was terrified by her daughter trying peppers for the first time (she was totally fine & her Mummy kept her fear to herself in a noble way) but after that she left us to it, though I always contacted her with details of our plans for food!things because that was Sensible And Right.

    There is a badge (specifically, the Healthy Heart badge) in our current Brownie Programme which covers Asthma & Allergy & we did that as a Unit not long after SAB joined as a good way of helping the girls to learn about allergies. We trained all of them in using epipens & the discussions we had about asthma-and-allergy were the first ones where SAB did much talking.

    By the end of her time as a Brownie, as well as having got to enjoy food & the making thereof with her peers, our Super[allergic] Brownie had become vastly more confident & assertive; mostly thanks to her experiences as a Brownie. That's not me taking the credit, that is what her Mummy told us when we said goodbye.

    So, really, it is about Finding The Right Groups. Not everyone out there, sadly, is as awesome as my Owlery Of Epic Win (seriously, I love my Assistant Brownie Leaders, it's not everyone who'll decorate you a set of wings for the back of your wheelchair) but some people are Awesome Enough To Cope & that's what you need.

    1. This is awesome and amazing. Thank you so much for being awesome and for sharing your awesomeness. Nothing like getting all teary-eyed at work. I hope we can find groups with leaders like you as my little future superallergic boy scout gets older.

    2. Oh huzzah, you got to read this! I have been keeping an eye on the page in case anyone replied to my comment, it is quite pleasing that turned out to be a sensible thing.

      I was thinking about you during our Pack Meeting on Friday night as we were making fairy cakes with the girls - and this week we're going to have a Teddy Bears' Picnic, so there will be More Food Stuff. We're having a pyjama party later this term, too, so I'm guessing Yet More Food will feature there, albeit most likely just (Halal) marshmallows for toasting/making smores... (Apparently we were all hungry while we planned the programme for this term. Or, er, something.) Friday night's cakes mean that all the girls have now experienced the wonder of dairy-free, nut-free, peanut-free, suitable-for-vegetarians, fairycakes (decorated with vegan sweeties) without it being a huge deal.

      I really REALLY hope that you're able to find some Appropriately Awesome Scouters to facilitate your wee one getting to join the Scouting fun when he's old enough. You might have to go a bit beyond what most parents do - e.g. offer to train Leaders in What To Do In Case Of A Reaction - but maybe keep a copy of this post to remind yourself (& potentially prove to Future Leaders!) that This Is Completely Possible. It takes a bit more work, but part of Guiding & Scouting is caring for our members & meeting their needs as individuals - which, in the case of your son, includes having allergies.

      As a side note, giving people Lots Of Information is actually a good thing, as long as it is presented well. It makes it all much less daunting if you can be confident you know exactly what you're dealing with - allergies don't faze me, but I needed a lot of information about how to look after a Brownie severely disabled by dystonia when we took her on Pack Holiday (her first stay away from home other than time in hospital).

      All adults who spend their spare time herding small people should know what an allergic reaction looks like, but if your wee man has any particular tells letting Leaders know that is all to the good. We once had a Brownie whose body produced an allergic reaction any time she encountered a new virus. Hives are quite hard to spot on her skin because she's of African descent so they're not as glaringly obvious as on, say, one of our little typically-Irish-Brownies. She used to refer to the start of a reaction as "getting the bumps" which let us catch the reaction superspeedily.

      I seem to have gone all babbly from The Epic Tired (it's 2335 here & I've done two killer ballet classes today & have ridiculously bad anaemia [really, one sixth of the minimum amount of iron I should have, what's my body DOING?!] & am operating on a serious sleep deficit) sorry about that.

      Basically, I am vair vair glad to have been able to offer some hope; and I shall be keeping my wings crossed for you. Oh & thanks awfully for saying I am awesome *fluffs feathers & preens*

  134. I am WAY late getting in on this post so I'm only *hoping* someone might see this and take something from it.

    First, awesome post. The cupcake thing totally yanked on my heart strings :( Poor kiddo. I know *kind of* how you feel (except like.. from a whole different neighborhood... if that makes sense?) My son was born with several heart defects and tends to be hopsitalized immediately as a precaution for things other kids get to recover from at home because they're a lot harder for him to recover from (so where you're worrying about major food allergies and the jerks who want to feed them to your kids, I'm freaking out because people like to send their kids to daycare with pneumonia *awesome*). Some of the things any kiddos like this have to worry about... Just sucks. Anyway...

    I'm late reading through all the comments on this post because it only now relates to me. My son's preschool only this year implimented a peanut free policy because of three new kids in the school with severe allergies to peanuts. Only, rather than put it out there in big flashing bold letters for every parent to see, it was tucked discreetely in part of the million newsletters we get for "Welcome Back to School". And it took Mommy a few weeks to get through all of it. So in the mean time I'm sending my little man to school with his fav, PB&J, and he's being pulled away from all of his friends to eat his lunch in the teachers lounge (which is about as nice as making an allergic kid go in the other room so everyone else can have cake). Because Mommy didn't know. And every day when I picked him up and asked the teachers how it was going "He's doing great!" is my only answer. No "Hey genius, you know we have a peanut free policy, right?" We've since made sure that all of his lunches are safe for everyone. But my point, make sure your school is out there screaming it to everyone. Or some of the people out to kill your kid with food, simply might not know any better.

  135. I've known a lot of people who BSed allergies to annoy people, but I also realize that some people really are allergic. Keep up your diligent work, and best of luck to you. I and my family will be praying that your son may grow out of some of his allergies in time!

  136. Wow. I just ran across this post and although it's years later, wanted to comment. Both of my boys (4 1/2 and 2 1/2 yrs) have food allergies to gluten, dairy/casein, strawberries, chocolate, bananas, and dyes. They also have an immune deficiency, which means that colds and common bugs for most kids can turn into serious infections for them.

    I can so relate to the stories about packing all food and snacks for pre-school, bday parties, restaurants, and visits to others houses. This way of living has dictated every aspect of our lives and many people truly don't understand.

    At my boys' pre-school, the teachers are polite about my questions and requests that they serve only food I bring in or approve, but I always get the sense they think I'm a big PITA and dramatic. Because my sons thank god don't have an anaphylaxic reaction (and boy do I respect parents with kids who do), I feel like so many people and teachers treat my sons' alleriges like I'm just making them up.

    They don't know that my oldest at age 2 couldn't speak at all (after 5 mos of speech therapy and being dx with a severe speech disorder) and was showing signs of likely heading toward a dx of being on the autism spectrum. But miraculously, after removing certain foods diligently, adding particular dietary supplements, and switching to a mostly organic diet, he started showing massive speech progress, today is completely fine speech-wise, and developmentally is completely normal. (Of course, even the slightest transgression with things he's allergic to cause those issues to come back and quickly).

    They don't know that my youngest, as a six-week old nursing baby, developed severe eczema (he looked like a true leper with awful bloody red lesions from head to toe), which wouldn't go away until I eliminated almost everything from my diet and discovered what was causing it.

    And my boys are sensitive to chemicals - like dyes in foods and paints, as well as pesticides and things in personal care products. But I can't tell you how many parents and teachers sneer at me because I buy only organic, esp for the dirty dozen. They don't see the eczema that breaks out, and the exploding diarrhea that occurs, or the aggression/behavioral changes that take place after exposure to foods or chemical my kids react to.

    They don't see that I sigh every time I look at my food bill, wondering how we'll be able to afford it when my boys are older with even bigger appetites.

    In response to the previous poster, I don't know who would embark on this way of living just to annoy people because I know just how hard and challenging it can be.

    I just wish that other parents and even teachers, who luckily don't have children with such issues, could be more understanding. I don't ask these people to go out of their way and make special acommodations for my child (other than asking them to please not feed my kid anything unless I've provided it or approved it).

    I don't expect them to stop serving foods my kid is allergic to (although I understand that for anaphylaxic kids, that is often needed). I just ask that you try not to downplay something that is a serious problem for many kids and even adults today. There is something going on that is causing this major rise in allergies. All I ask is that parents and teachers - lucky enough not to have a child with allergies - try to respect our situation and position.

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