Monday, March 23, 2015

Easter with Food Allergies (Part 1) ~ Safety at Family Gatherings

Easter with Food Allergies (Part 2) ~ Safe Treats and Hunts
Easter with Food Allergies (Part 3) ~ Safe Easter Meal

I wrote this post when Miles was two-years-old.  We do some things differently now that he's 9, but these are still good tips for parents of mostly any food allergy age.    

Easter is upon us, and we all want our children to have a fun day. Although planning a holiday around milk allergies can be stressful, it can still be a special celebration if we plan ahead.  Here are some things we do to keep our holidays as safe as possible:

  • If you have a choice, plan to attend the smaller gatherings. The less people, the less chance that someone will feed or offer your child something that's not safe.
  • Plan to celebrate the holiday with people who understand the seriousness of food allergies.
  • Communicate with the hosts and attendees ahead of time to menu plan. If they have been accustomed to your food allergies for some time, they may be willing to make or buy safe foods and you may be comfortable letting your child eat them.
  • Bring a few safe dishes that everyone can enjoy. Dish out your child's portions first and get enough for leftovers. Once it's open to everyone, you don't want to dish out anymore for your child. It may become contaminated with a milky utensil or have unsafe food dropped in it by the time you go back.
  • Pack a safe meal for your child even if you think the family meal will be safe. Something could always happen to mess up the safe family meal so make sure you have back-up.
  • If there are people at your gathering who do not know about your food allergies, do not hesitate to make an announcement (perhaps before the family prayer) that there is a child with food allergies who should not be fed ANYTHING by anybody. If you're still nervous, don't hesitate to put a sticker on them that says, "Do not feed me. I have food allergies."
  • Don't hesitate to pass on someone else's dish even if they say it's milk-free. If you aren't comfortable trying it, just say you brought your child's own food to be safe. Most everyone will understand your caution. And if they don't, it's better to offend someone than to have your child in the ER on the holiday.
  • Keep the dairy foods out of reach of your allergy child as much as possible.
  • Have a special area for the dairy-free foods you don't want anyone to get into.  Label the containers as dairy-free & off-limits.  And even hide them if needed.  
  • Don't hesitate to suggest that everyone wash hands after the meal.  If your allergic child is a baby, people are going to want to hold him or her.  If your child is a toddler or older, he or she will be sharing toys, electronics, etc. with other kids.  
  • If your child is younger, keep him or her in your site at all times. Jeff and I take turns watching Miles. Sometimes Grandma takes a turn too. You never know when those little hands will grab for something.  Or when someone may offer them food.  This means meal time AND play time.  
  • If your child takes daily medication for allergies like Clariton or Zyrtec, make sure they take their dose for the day before going on your outing.
  • Don't forget to pack your EpiPen and Benedryl and medicine dropper/cup!

Do you have any other safety tips for celebrating holidays in a large group?


Melissas said...

Be sure nobody tried to be helpful and cut up your child's food for them. Last year, my brother reached over with his knife to cut DS's ham, but he had already cut his own French Toast and eggs! We caught it, but it could have been ugly. My brother was just trying to help, but we had to get DS a new plate of food.

Jamie said...

Good tip, Melissa S! Yes, along those lines, eating off someone else's utensils or drinking out of another's cup could be detrimental for our allergic kids.

Dawn said...

I'm so thankful that I read this post. My little guy will be eating table foods before long, and I hadn't thought of these hazards. Thank you for this blog - it's really helping a new milk allergy mom figure out a lot of important things! I'm sorry you had to go through this without the help of a great blogger!

Jamie Kaufmann said...

Dawn, I am so thankful for comments like yours. I love to hear that this blog is helpful to others. That was my whole intent. I really imagined writing a book someday but with the way that things are always changing in food prep, the blog idea seemed to make sense. I didn't have a blog to visit but I did meet some nice allergy moms online and it was helpful. I'm by no means a professional expert but I figure we've been through enough personal experience to be somewhat helpful. Thanks for visiting!

Arianna said...

Family gatherings can be stressful and difficult when you're dealing with multiple food allergies. Thanks so much for posting about it! It's definitely an eye opener. I'm currently seeing an Allergy specialist

Jamie Kaufmann said...

Arianna, you are very welcome. Best wishes on your journey!

Rebecca said...

What great tips! It's always so stressful to eat at someone else's home with an allergic child. (My daughter's allergic to peanuts/tree nuts). Anything I can do to ease my mind and ensure her safety is top priority. Thanks so much for putting this list together. I was wondering if you'd be willing to share it on as well. If you haven't heard of Freedible, it's a brand new social site dedicated to empowering "custom eaters," (those who have any type of food allergy, intolerance, or restriction). They just kicked off their Easter and Passover Celebration so this post would be just perfect! I hope you have a very happy and safe Easter! -Rebecca