Probably the most common misconception when a family member is diagnosed with food allergies is that it’s “not that serious.” And unless you’ve experienced a severe reaction, you may not be prepared for the challenges of managing food allergies.
When I was first diagnosed with Celiac, we still had gluten in the home. That’s how little we knew about contamination and food allergies. It wasn’t until I had an anaphylactic reaction to wheat that we finally realized how seriously we had to take it.
MYTH #1: “We can still have the allergen in the home.”
A food allergy is rarely confined to the ingesting of the allergen, and contamination can cause accidental ingesting. So, while it may be possible to keep the allergen around, it may not be, and could be quite dangerous. Know your allergy – or your child’s. And know what kind of reaction they’re going to have, whether that is anaphylaxis or EOE or Celiac.
MYTH #2: “We can cheat on vacation.”
Because allergies can evolve in a person overtime, you or your family member may not have experienced a severe reaction at the time of a diagnosis. What started for me as Celiac later “evolved” until I was anaphylactic to wheat. Vacation is not a time to “cheat” – in fact, you have to be more diligent than ever when your family is hitting the road. Restaurants are risky – they may be impossible. So plan ahead and find a good cooler, because you’re going to be packing a lot of food.
MYTH #3: “They’ll grow out of it.”
This is true for some, but not for everyone. We anticipated this for my anaphylaxis, but I haven’t outgrown it yet. 😉
MYTH #4: “Cross-contamination is easily avoided.”
This is a potentially deadly misconception. Toasters, utensils, ovens, counter-tops, and shared equipment (i.e. cookware, phone, computer, etc.) are huge sources of contamination. And it’s not easily avoided. Even a handshake can cross-contaminate, causing a reaction. Do not underestimate this, and be alert.
Also keep in mind . . .
YOUR CHILD’S FUTURE. If you’ve suddenly become a food allergy mom with a child at risk for anaphylaxis or any other serious reaction, your first response could be to create a bubble, a zone in which he/she is perfectly safe. However, that’s not going to help when that child is an older teen or new adult. My personal opinion as a food allergy teen is that it’s better to be prepared for risk and equipped to handle that risk and all resulting consequences.
Creating an indestructible nut-free or gluten-free zone (if that is even possible) may be tempting, but it will not help your child thrive in an allergy-filled world. Your child must grow up knowing how to thrive and how to handle risk and its consequences. That cannot happen in a bubble – but it can happen among peers and in moderate risk, at which time you can start to educate not just your child but his/her friends in managing food allergies.
THE EMERGENCY PLAN. Especially for your teen. Assemble an emergency kit with items specific to their allergy. And train them in the “Allergy Emergency Plan” you establish together to help educate the people around them (so you know that they know how to help your child or teen in the event of a severe reaction). Also make sure your teen is equipped with specific knowledge in the event of such a reaction, or even just contamination.
Points like these can help keep your family alive and safe when dealing with food allergies. They may also be able to help your family thrive again. Because it’s not enough to just survive. So learn to own your allergy. ❤
Share your thoughts on this! Are you new to food allergies? Has any of this been helpful for your situation? Have any questions? Talk to me!