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Growing up, I didn’t really know anyone with food allergies except a couple of friends who had a lactose intolerance. I didn’t’ even realize it was a thing until I was an adult. I knew many friends who had a child with either a peanut allergy, a dairy allergy or an egg allergy. I knew it wasn’t easy as they were trying to change their eating habits to accommodate their children’s needs or would have to worry about any nuts being in food products when they were out of the house.
Fast forward a few years, guess who fell into the category of having a child with food allergies? That’s correct, us! The symptoms didn’t come up suddenly, but rather over time for our second child, Scott.
I remember, when Scott was around 1-2 years old, he had dry skin and bad eczema. At first, we thought it was due to the pool water when he had swimming lessons. After his class, we would make sure he would shower right away and apply lotion. His skin was not improving. Suddenly, we started to notice hives on his body. They appeared around his stomach and the top of his legs.
Furthermore, I started thinking he had asthma because he was always coughing, had a runny nose and seem to choke on his coughing fits. I had even brought him to the dr to get checked. We ended going home with an inhaler to help with his little coughing fits.
After a couple of months, the hives kept reappearing and then he started to complain of belly aches. We began to clue in that it was something he was eating to cause all these symptoms. I remember picking him up at daycare, after work, and he had major hives on appearing on his arms. The daycare worker told me what they ate, but it was nothing new and all ordinary items.
After the daycare incident, I booked an appointment with our family doctor. When we met with her, I told her the symptoms (belly aches, hives, coughing/wheezing, bad skin eczema), and my suspicions of a food allergy. She referred us to a specialist and we were able to see him within a month.
When we brought him to the appointment, the specialist suspected a food allergy as hives were usually a sign after something was ingested. He quickly did the skin test, and nothing came up. The test was cleared. Next step was to draw blood to test it against many different elements.
To this day, I remember when I received the call from the specialist. We were on holidays, in a hotel room, having a blast going to a waterslide park. I was in the hotel room when the phone rang. I answered and the specialist went straight to the facts. “Your son is allergic to dairy, eggs and peanuts.” I’m sorry, what?? I was shocked! The specialist continued to say that it wasn’t a low allergic, but a pretty moderate one. I thanked him and knew instantly what that meant….complete dietary change.
When I told my husband, it all started to make sense, we now understood why he had so many belly aches, he was always drinking milk, eating yogurt or eating cheese. He had a very high dairy intake. I knew that dairy was going to be the hardest part to change. It’s in everything!!! When you read ingredients on food items, it has different labels, it’s ridiculous.
As for the peanuts and eggs, I knew it would be easier to change. I bought Scott Wow Butter and he didn’t even notice a difference.
Now, how did I change our eating habits to accommodate his allergy? Well, first, his allergy was not anaphylactic (very thankful for that); secondly, I didn’t completely remove everything out of his diet except for peanuts as we barely ate nuts except for peanut butter. Finally, to make the change, I went back to the food basics of meat, carbs and veggies. I kept it simple. We would eat a roast, side of potatoes and vegetables. I tried to do these kinds of meals as much as possible.
If I wanted to make a casserole and required milk, I replaced it with either soy, almond or oat milk. I just tried to avoid cheeses in our meals. When I told daycare, they had many other children on dietary restrictions, therefore it was easy to accommodate Scott. I let them know that if something had been cooked with eggs, it was fine in small quantities such as a muffin or bread.
All in all, having a child with a food allergy has made me appreciate those that have a child with anaphylactic allergies. I can’t imagine the constant need to review ingredients, to carry an epi pen and to worry about the foods your child will eat at someone else’s house. It has made me more aware of the items I give out for Halloween (always buy nut free). What about dairy/egg allergies? I would try to find hard candies to add. It’s not always easy.
Scott is now 5 years old and has outgrown the allergy. No more belly aches and can tolerate eggs as well. However, he still can not eat any peanut items as it still gives him belly aches or he will throw up. At least, now he is older, and he can make sure he doesn’t eat something with nuts. When we go to the grocery store, he lets the bakery know he has a peanut allergy, they will then give him a different cookie.
This was a long winded post, I just wanted to give my little story about food allergies. Yes, we all have our theories as to why kids have more allergies today than in the past, but honestly, no one has the right theory as of yet. We can say it’s because we didn’t provide it to them when they were young, but that wasn’t the case for us. I never limited any foods when they were small or when I was pregnant. One day we will understand, but for now, let’s be grateful that allergies are more common and that grocery stores offer more options for food items. Plus, Pinterest is littered with alternatives and friends are a great support to give options for different meal ideas.
Lastly, I know gut health is getting more traction and I encourage everyone to start reading more about it. I am a believer that your gut health will impact your overall health. I believe in probiotics. I have seen significant improvements with my two littles. My baby was showing signs of having a milk allergy/intolerance through my breastmilk. I started giving her baby probiotics and her skin reaction, stools, baby spit-ups, everything either disappeared or improved. It’s worth trying and looking into it. My theory is that probiotics help with early digestion development. Please understand that I am not suggesting that probiotics would be a cure! I am merely saying it helped with digestion issues that were causing similar problems to an allergy.
For more information on Food Allergies, please visit the following websites
July 30, 2018: EpiPen auto-injector shortage
Food Allergy Canada: http://foodallergycanada.ca/about-allergies/food-allergens/
Kids With Food Allergies: http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/what-is-a-food-allergy.aspx
Fast Facts: Food Allergies in Canada: http://foodallergycanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/Food-Allergy-Key-Facts-Sheet.pdf