Living with food allergies can be complicated and scary. I have 5 simple tips for you to help ease your mind and keep your kiddos safe.
Read your labels!!!! Every single time you shop. Yes it takes time, but trust me, it’s totally worth it. I found something new on the label of a spice I haven’t had to purchase in a while: (May contain milk). Those are scary words for our family as dairy is our major anaphylactic food. If I hadn’t read the label, I would have used that particular spice in just about everything I cook. Be familiar with different names for your food allergens. You can check out the Food Allergy Initiative for specific lists of each of the major food allergies and common variations of names.
2) Soap and Water
WASH YOUR HANDS! Warm water and soap is the best way to remove food proteins from surfaces, especially your hands! With multiple food allergies it is not feasible for us to completely eliminate them all from our house. We also have people stop by quite a bit. Our family and friends know to wash their hands when they walk in our door so they/we don’t have to worry about what they’ve touched or eaten during the day.
I often have to cook with foods that aren’t safe for Maya, so every time I touch something that isn’t safe for her, I wash my hands. For example: if I touch garlic, I wash my hands before I touch the salt or pepper. If I open a carton of soy milk, I wash my hands. Especially if I touch something that contains dairy, I don’t touch anything else until I’ve washed my hands. It’s always a good habit to wash hands before eating, but with food allergies wash hands after eating as well. That can help cut down on reactions significantly; at least it does in our house.
3) Out and About
Be aware when you are out and about. I used to travel with wet wipes, now I travel with a tiny spray bottle of soap and water in my purse. I spray down the seat and parts of the buggy my kiddos will touch. We don’t even mess with the buckles now that my kiddos are older and know how to behave in the grocery store. Pay attention to the parking lots, spots on the floors, all those sorts of things. People leave wrappers from all sorts of food items and drinks all over the place. Be aware so that you don’t track your food allergen everywhere.
4) Your Mouth
If you have multiple children and not all of them have the same allergies, keep tabs on your tooth brushes. Store each tooth brush separately to avoid cross contamination. Also think about your toothpaste, I know a lot of kids may touch the tube to their toothbrush and may transfer allergens on it.
Now what about your mouth? Always always always think about what you’ve eaten before you give your kiddo a kiss, or a raspberry, or anything such as that. It’s an awful thought to give your own child a hive or even just an itch because you kissed them with an allergen on your lips. For example: If I haven’t made it to the sink to brush teeth and I need to dispense a kiss, I kiss the top of Maya and Joshua’s head, on their hair, so I don’t have to worry about them reacting. Maya knows the routine and dips her head down at bedtime to get her goodnight’s kiss. Most of the time after I eat or drink something that is unsafe for either of my food allergic kiddos, I brush my teeth very thoroughly with warm water. I also wash my lips with soap and water so I can kiss my kiddos. This is of course after I wash my hands with soap and warm water *see #2*
5) Be Prepared
Take your emergency medications with you EVERYWHERE. Keep them on your person or within hand reach at all times. I keep a small supply of our emergency meds and our epi pens in my purse. I always have my purse with me. In our house I know exactly where it is because I put it in the same place every time so I never have to think about where it is. I also have a supply of Benadryl and Prednisolone (Orapred) in my pantry and Singulair in our medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Have your emergency action plan accessible at all times. Know it well. Keep a copy of it with your travel meds. Our allergist gave us a case for Maya and Joshua’s epi pens, so it’s really easy to keep things together. I stuff everything they’ll need in case of an allergic reaction in each one along with an index card detailing the plan. I’ve also written their names in bold sharpie on each case so I can easily see whose is whose. I keep our original copy in my home management notebook in my Emergency section.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me! You can find my contact information in the About Me page at the top of the site. We’ll be exploring kitchen safety next week, so if you have any questions you’d like me to address please let me know in the comments or email me!
Do you have anything you’d like to add to the list?