August 8, 2011
Thanks to Shelley Stursma for sharing this post about dealing with food allergies. Shelley is a mother of three.
When our son Ryan was one year old, he ate scrambled eggs for the first time. I was surprised to see a rash appear around his mouth and on his cheeks. A nurse from our doctor’s office suggested that we avoid eggs in his diet until he could be tested for food allergies. Six months later, Ryan had a blood test and a “scratch” test, and an allergist confirmed that Ryan was allergic to eggs, peanut, and soy.
Now, we carry Benadryl and an EpiPen with us wherever we go. Ryan has had reactions from simply touching something with peanut residue on it. His reactions range from hives to vomiting. We are thankful that we’ve never had to use the EpiPen; Benadryl has always kept any accidental contact under control.
We also read ingredient labels carefully. If an ingredient list isn’t available, Ryan doesn’t eat the food item. Our allergist tells us that the best way to help Ryan with his allergies is to avoid the foods he’s allergic to, including any foods that might be cross-contaminated by being processed on the same machinery as his allergens. Since food companies frequently change their recipes, finding things that Ryan can eat can sometimes be a challenge. The most recent issue for us has been finding pasta with no traces of egg in it (the kind we bought before underwent a recipe change). Just a few weeks ago, I was able to find one that works, and Ryan is happy to eat spaghetti again! We have found that we eat healthier food than we did before, simply because many processed foods are not safe for him.
I am so thankful to have all kinds of support. The internet is a wonderful resource for me; there are so many great websites full of recipes and tips. I belong to a MOPS group, and it has a number of Moppets (children of MOPS moms) with food allergies. I love having friends that understand this part of my mommyhood.
Our families are wonderful! They are careful to make sure that Ryan is safe at holiday get-togethers and family gatherings. Both of Ryan’s grandmas have a stash of Ryan-safe foods in their kitchens. My sister and sisters-in-law call me with questions about recipes, or offer a safe alternative for him if needed.
Our church and Ryan’s school have an Epipen and Benadryl on site at all times. Our church’s education team makes sure that Ryan always has safe treats to eat at Sunday School, VBS, and our Wednesday night program. In addition, Ryan’s school made his classroom egg-free and nut-free last year, and we plan to repeat that for the coming school year.
Ryan on the last day of school
When people find out that Ryan has food allergies, they usually ask whether or not his brother and sister have them, too. Ryan’s allergist recommended that I avoid the foods Ryan’s allergic to during the final trimester of my pregnancies and while I breastfed, and also encouraged me to nurse our children for as long as possible, in order to prevent food allergies. Ryan’s brother doesn’t have any food allergies, and we’ll have his sister tested for them when she’s one.
The other question we are asked is, “Will Ryan outgrow his allergies?” Many children do not grow out of nut allergies, but most grow out of egg and soy allergies. Ryan outgrew his soy allergy by age 5. He will see his allergist before school starts and she’ll check to see if his egg allergy has weakened or gone away. If he still is allergic to eggs at age 10, it will probably be something he’ll deal with the rest of his life.
I am the mom of a child who has food allergies. Like any mom, I want my child to be like the other little boys his age, and he is. He rides his bike, swims like a fish, loves to be outside, and plays a great game of t-ball. He has a marvelous sense of humor and an infectious giggle. He tells me how much he loves Jesus and that he’ll go to heaven someday. He doesn’t think twice about his food allergies; for him, it’s normal, and it’s normal for me, too.