Friday, April 3, 2015

Holidays with Food Allergies

Is it any wonder that holidays and parties are a source of stress for those with food allergies?

July 4, 2005 Head to toe hives and the start of chronic urticaria

May 27, 2012 Home from a friend's birthday, head to toe hives

October 30, 2013 Day before Halloween and first known serious food reaction

June 30, 2014 Day before his birthday, self-administered epi-pen, Urgent Care visit

October 19, 2014 Flushed face and swollen eyes during Halloween party

And these are the only the incidents I remember or thought to record. So how do you get safely through the holidays?

Have a Plan

James always goes to parties (and holidays) now with his own food. He's become more conscious about if nuts are served, wiping his hands frequently when touching things (which is what happened during the Oct. 19th reaction). We let the host of the party know his allergies and that he'll be bringing his own food. He usually brings enough dessert to share. And of course, he always has his epi-pens. But, he never skips an event because of his allergies.

This is what works for us. James is 12 and the high school (and college) years are not far off. For any tween (and teen) kid, learning to navigate the world independently is what these years are about. For us, food allergies add another layer, but do not negate that need. Depending on the age of your children and the severity of their allergies, you may handle these situations differently. But, having a plan in advance so you are prepared and can relax is the key to being able to enjoy yourself.

Create New Traditions (aka It's only Food)

I firmly believe that I can pretty closely replicate any food tradition in an allergy friendly form my family wants. And have spent a lot of time (and calories) doing so. But, it's only food. I think one reason we get attached is we have memories of having the same food, year after year, throughout our childhood. But, you can certainly repeat other traditions, that can grow in complexity as your children age.

Here's a brief list to get you started of non-food ideas for this Easter:

  • Cascarones/Confetti filled eggs (use plastic eggs for the egg allergic)
  • Tie Dye
  • Get a new game and play it (last year we got an outdoor game but this year, video game, of course)
  • Grow real grass in their Easter basket (late for this year, but I got my nieces some cute little pots with faces to grow grass from Target, not good for those with environmental allergies)
  • Go for a bike ride/hike/geocache

What do you do to create successful holidays for your food allergic child?

Happy Easter!

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