Today’s interview is with Emma, a fellow allergy blogger. Her son J has multiple allergies and is anaphylactic to dairy. Thank you Emma for taking the time for the interview.
How old is J and what allergies does he have?
He is 18 months and is allergic to dairy, egg, peanut and tree nuts, sesame and garlic.
How did you first find out about J’s allergies?
He had severe eczema when he was a baby and we suspected cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA). Then when I started weaning him he had a bad reaction to tahini in hummus and after that we had him tested.
What age was he when you found out?
He was 9 months when his allergies were confirmed.
Was there any history of allergies in the family, had you ever been used to dealing with allergies before?
My husband and I are both atopic with a combination of asthma, eczema and hayfever. There are allergies in both our families – my sister has a nut allergy – so we were aware of dealing with them.
What were the biggest difficulties you found in putting him on a free from diet?
Making sure he has enough nutrients, especially calcium and iron and trying to keep variety in his diet. I am nervous about introducing new foods but don’t want to limit his meals any further than I have to. Hidden ingredients are a hard one – especially with garlic – and also a lot of ‘may contain’ labelling for sesame and nuts.
As J is anaphylactic to milk, is it very difficult to hand him over to daycare or to other minders? Are you constantly worried?
I try to be as relaxed as possible and trust others, but yes it is very difficult. I have a care plan in place and communicate closely with my childminder but I am still constantly worried when he is out of my sight.
It can sometimes be quite difficult to diagnose and get support for allergies. Did you have good support from your doctor/allergist?
When he was little and had severe eczema and was losing weight I was told by doctors that it could not be allergens passing through my breast-milk. I really had to fight to be listened to, we swapped GPs and took him to A&E before I got help. We now have a great GP and a top allergist so we have the support we need.
Do you find your family and friends understanding?
As much as they can be, yes. I think it is hard for anyone to truly understand when they are not living it everyday but they are very good at checking ingredients and keeping an eye on him.
How do you find eating out?
It’s very hard but I want us to continue to have a normal family life. I always take our own food with us as back up but have started ordering for him too. I have had good experiences in chain places with allergy menus and have a local pub that is very accommodating. Calling ahead helps and asking to talk to the chef or manager. If I don’t feel comfortable somewhere then we don’t order as it’s not worth the risk.
Did you and your family go free from also?
No, and this is something I am still wrestling with. We are very careful, only eat his allergens at the table or after he is in bed and have limited the things we have in the house. But dairy is the hardest to get rid of completely. I feel guilty about this but I also think that as he grows up he will need to learn that he can’t eat the same things as other people. It’s a tricky one and I’m still not sure how to handle it.
Do you have any advice for parents who are just starting off putting young children on free from diets?
There are still loads of things they can eat so try not panic! Most meals can be made free from and there are some great products and recipes out there. Take advice from a dietician, educate friends and family about what they can eat and always carry your own food, snacks and medicine.
Emma is a journalist and blogger writing about living with an anaphylactic toddler. She writes the blog Free From Farm House. On her blog she shares advice, recipes and experiences of living life to the full with multiple food allergies.
If you would like to be interviewed for the series, I would love to hear from you. Drop me a line email@example.com or leave a comment below.
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