It is not unusual for children to have allergies; in fact most kids have them, but most are not life threatening. We discovered that our beautiful daughter has a severe peanut and tree nut allergy two weeks before her 2nd birthday. ~Sherrica Sims, KAG Contributor
When we discovered that our child had a serious nut allergy, we were at a loss and guilt ridden. How did this happen? How do we keep her safe? What if something would have happened before we knew? Could she ever be out of our sight? It was quite scary and daunting. Let’s face it Nuts are EVERYWHERE.
Instantly, we became a nut free home and made adjustments to our lifestyle. My husband and I read every article we could find online. I took to social media and asked my friends for advice. We reworked our grocery budget. We started to shop at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods exclusively, simply because main stream grocery stores did not have nut alternatives (or the prices were CRAZY).
I am now an avid label reader and often stay away from foods without them. This can be difficult because 3 year olds hate to be told they cannot have something that looks tasty.
Eating Out with Nut Allergies
Eating out can present a whole other set of problems. We once visited a restaurant for breakfast and as always informed the server of our daughter’s allergy. The food arrived and the kids were ready to dig in, but we stopped them so we could inspect the food. Well there was a mix up and instead of 2 kid’s menu pancakes, they were pecan pancakes.
I was outraged and could only think about what could have happened if my husband had not grabbed her plate. I contacted the regional manager of the chain and he assured me that new allergy training would be implemented. Thank God!
Nut Allergies Affect More than Just Food
A unique challenge was discovering that this particular allergy extends far beyond food. Almost all bath and beauty products contain some type of tree nut oil; almond, macadamia nut, and argan are the most widely used.
Honestly, this was hard for me, because as I looked at the labels of my favorite products, I soon realized all contained tree nuts. I just could not take the chance, so I gave them all away. I started to make my own products in order to ensure she did not come into contact with ingredients that could harm her or irritate her skin.
Overall my husband and I found that the lifestyle adjustments were not terribly difficult; although, he still refuses to eat sunbutter (Sunflower seed butter). We found that we are much more health conscience and have benefited from the dietary changes as a family. We have a wonderful family network and they are so willing to adjust menus at family gatherings.
How to Support Families with Nut Allergies
In an effort to spread awareness to those who do not have children with food allergies, I would suggest a few tips:
- Make it a rule to NEVER send candy with nuts to school with your children. The likelihood of a reaction drastically increases when young children with allergies are presented with nuts in a candy. (Who asks questions when chocolate is involved?)
- When having a party for your child simply ask if those invited have a food allergy, and be willing to adjust the menu.
- Finally, I ask that if you know of a family that has a child with any type of special considerations, take time to offer support and understanding. Sometimes it only takes one kind word of encouragement to ease the stress that naturally comes along with parenting.
I hope that sharing our experiences will help other parents who face the same challenges.
Do you have a child with a nut allergy? What advice would you give others?
Sherrica Sims is an Upstate native who is a stay at home mom of 2 precocious kids. She loves creative outlets and spending time with family. You can follow her family on SimplySimsFamily.com.