Category Archives: Safety

5 Tips to Better Manage Food Allergies

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.

1) Labels

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?

Eating Out

When you’re dealing with several or even one food allergy, eating in a restaurant is a daunting task. We’ve only done it once in five years. We ate at Outback and their wonderful staff made their best efforts to make sure our kiddos were safe.

I didn’t know then what I know now.

Cross contamination is a BIG issue. It’s so easy to go from one food to another and most people don’t even think about it. I didn’t before food allergies. People might go from mashing potatoes to flipping steak and so on and so forth without washing their hands.

The best way to attempt eating out is to contact the manager ahead of time, notify them of your allergies and see what they can do to accommodate you.  I would also try to go when they aren’t very busy to give them more room to operate in a safe zone.

Personally I just try to recreate dishes at home 🙂

Keeping Your Kitchen Safe

How do you remove an allergen? As far as food goes, warm water and soap will remove the proteins that cause allergic reactions.

The easiest way to keep your kitchen and kiddos safe from allergens is to completely eliminate the offending food. Many families do this, and I commend them for it, but it simply isn’t feasible for us and our budget.

When I need to prepare foods that pose a danger to my kiddos I wash my hands in between each step. I try to avoid touching anything with my bare hands that can hurt kiddos. I wash the dishes that we use for unsafe food separately with very hot water and lots of soap, rinsing and washing again once the surface looks free of debris.

A few other things to pay attention to and watch out for:

  • your can opener
  • oven racks
  • microwave trays
  • soap pumps
  • the knobs on your sinks, etc.

There are a lot of things that you need to be careful of when dealing with food allergies, but if you pay close attention and work hard to keep things clean and in order, you can totally keep your family safe!