Continuing with the interview series, I’d like to introduce Alyssa, mother of one boy with multiple allergies and writer of the blog Mum to a Monster about her baby, post natal depression and living with allergies.
I’m Alyssa, I live with my husband,son and 2 pet degus. Jacob is our first child.
What age is your son and what allergies does he have?
My son is 14 months. He is allergic to cow’s milk protein, soya, coconut and banana.
How and when did you first find out your son has allergies?
We didn’t find out until he was 4 months old, I took him to the doctors with suspected reflux. She mentioned lactose intolerance, so we tried eliminating lactose for a few weeks but when researching lactose intolerance, I found out about CMPA (cow’s milk protein allergy). He wouldn’t sleep , cried all the time, refused his bottles and fussed loads. We have since had an accidental exposure to whey powder and he reacted with hives.
What did you find most difficult about putting him on a free from diet?
Reading everything , I get so flustered in supermarkets and I’m not a great cook so when I have to stand there reading food labels I feel people stare at me. It also frustrates me that if i find a dairy free item item it sometimes Contains soya or coconut or banana so Jacob still can’t have it.
Did you find it easy to get help and support from your boy’s doctor / allergist?
My doctor was good, (the one that first told us about lactose intolerance) but I have found other health professionals not very supportive. I have had most of my support from my immediate family and the CMPA group on Facebook.
Has Jacob been to many parties? How have you kept him away from his allergens?
We haven’t been to a party yet , we should have had one this weekend but had to cancel because of illness. I would take my own food and treats for my son. I am lucky that my friend did ask me about his allergies and said i could read the packets etc.
Once we were at a playgroup and they were handing out buttered toast. Needless to say I did a ninja dive across the room to stop that. I had to follow him round making sure he didn’t pick any toast up.
What is your favourite free from product?
Oatley , although i wish they would make smaller cartons to take out.
Is there one product you wish you could find for your child what would it be?
Ice-cream that isnt coconut or banana based
Do you have a supermarket or health store nearby which stocks the free from foodstuffs you need?
Yes, I am lucky that i drive and have several shops close by. Morrisons is within walking distance and we also have Aldi, Asda, Sainsbury’s and also Holland and Barret.
Do you find you need to shop at health food shops a lot?
No i have only been once to find dairy free and soya free chocolate for Easter.
Are your family and friends understanding and mindful of Jacob’s allergies?
Most are, however I do think there are a few that think I’m just being over-anxious. They are not the ones that have to comfort a child that is having a reaction and is in pain screaming at night.
How do you find eating out with a child with allergies?
I always take a jar of food out with me and snacks. I don’t trust most places as they cant seem to figure out dairy means more than just milk and cheese. It’s the same with soya. When out my son usually has his own lunch and then maybe the odd chip off our plate.
Did you and your family go free from also?
We use Dairy free butter now, and i use Oatley more in cooking. I have tried to go dairy free as I believe I could be CMPI/CMPA but it’s so hard when you are use to just snacking on anything.
I often think about going dairy free myself but haven’t taken the plunge. Have you continued with being dairy free?
I managed nearly a week dairy free minus a few slip ups. I was craving a decent coffee though. I definitely felt worse starting again and my eczema got worse . I felt I had more energy when I was dairy free. I really should stop but its hard. Although I am finding more and more snacks for Jacob that are dairy free.
This blogpost has been nominated for a blog award for best blog post in Blog Awards Ireland 2014. If you would like to vote for it, please click here and select dairy free kids and click vote. A huge thanks to Alyssa for taking the time to do this interview.
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