As a parent of a child with life-threatening food allergies, I am living in constant anxiety. Food is everywhere; there’s food in our homes, in our friends’ homes, at social gatherings, at schools, at playgrounds … you name it! And everywhere there is food, there is a potentially dangerous situation for my child.
Being an allergy mom, I have come to learn ways to manage our home. The tips I suggest below are convenient for my family and are subjective; so what may be suitable for me may not necessarily apply to you and your family.
Should I ban problem foods at home?
That’s the first question that comes to mind. Although I believe we should make our home “a safe haven”, it’s quite tricky, especially when my son is allergic to several foods. Even if we have decided to make our home allergen-free, the dilemma that comes up is whether my son should be aware of the foods he can’t eat and get used to the idea of seeing others eating them even at home, hoping that he accepts the fact that he can’t. A very tough decision!
So here’s how things have been adopted.
The allergenic food (sesame, peanuts) that my son gets an anaphylaxis reaction has been eliminated entirely from our home.
Other allergenic foods are allowed in the house with a few rules. They are not within my son’s reach AND they are handled with utensils that I do not use for my son’s food.
To ensure that non-allergenic foods do not become contaminated, make sure that all household members wash their hands with soap before touching the non-allergenic foods (even if they are serving themselves) and after eating or touching some allergenic. I personally started wearing disposable gloves whenever handling allergenic foods. Also try to confine your food consumption in the kitchen and dining area to avoid any allergenic residues around the house.
Designate separate sets of utensils for handling safe and unsafe foods. And when it comes to washing dishes, use different sponges for the safe/unsafe utensils. I like to be more cautious and clean the utensils that handled unsafe food in a special way. I boil pots with water and laundry detergent, then wash with water and dishwashing liquid, then soak with water and vinegar then wash again with water and dishwashing liquid. Sometimes, some family members may mistakenly use a spoon to serve your allergic child (and that spoon was in contact with unsafe food).
Simply have one cabinet specifically for your allergic child. Designate particular shelves/cabinets for storing the “safe” foods. Also make sure the cabinet that contains allergens is not within your child’s reach.
OTHER THINGS that I practice that simplify things:
* Always have a supply of safe food available & pre-cooked safe food in the freezer
* Keep record of your child’s daily food intake
* Create a cookbook that contains different recipes from main dishes to treats that your child enjoys
Always remember to focus on what he can eat rather than what he cannot eat!