Tag Archives: toddler food allergies

I used to love food.

Amy’s Sunday post over at BabyBabyLemon was simple enough: a list of restaurants she’d like to eat at. I read through the list and thought, “Yes! All the food!” but by the time I got to the end, I actually had a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat.

Since kidlet’s food allergies were confirmed my entire relationship with food has changed. I no longer read food magazines, I don’t look through cookbooks with enthusiasm, I don’t dream of the wonderful places we’ll eat when we go out of town, or even the amazing places to eat in town. I don’t tear recipes out of magazines to try later. In short: food rarely brings me joy the way it used to.

Having a kid with half a dozen food allergies (egg, sesame, mango, walnut, almond, peanut, and fish) has changed the foods we keep in the house, and makes every new restaurant a potential allergic reaction waiting to happen. In fact, it even makes restaurants we’ve been to dozens of times potentially dangerous places for us. Just last weekend, after having breakfast at our go-to bagel place, kidlet threw up in the car 5 minutes after we left. Why? Cross-contaminated food, I guess.

When we go out we carefully study the menu to gauge whether or not there is anything on the menu that he will be able to eat safely, and since we’re always touching his food, the food we eat needs to be safe for him, too. Which rules out a lot of food. Chinese and Japanese food is often cooked in sesame oil, and uses fish sauce. Many cream sauces used in Italian cooking have egg in them, as does some red sauce. No sushi, no fried food (the batter often has egg in it), no baked pastries, even bread can be tricky since some breads are baked with egg, or have an egg wash to give them shine. No seafood restaurants and no breakfast places – I get freaked out just thinking about all the eggs, and pancakes and waffles have egg in the batter. And when we do venture somewhere new, more often than not we are met with a CYA attitude of, “Yeah it has egg in it,” or a disinterested, “I don’t know.”

I sound like I’m crying in my milk, and I am. I’m feeling sorry for myself because of the food I will miss the opportunity to eat. Because if I want to eat sushi, I have to leave my kid home. Because food allergies SUCK.

I read somewhere that kids learn their attitude about their allergies from their parents, and so if they have parents who are, “No big deal” about it, the kids will be that way too. They won’t see their allergies as a burden, or be afraid of them. So I try very hard to be matter of fact about them, and not talk about how frustrating they are for me in front of him. But sometimes…it gets to me.

A year ago I would have made a list of restaurants that I want to eat at and laughed at the unlikeliness of it happening from a geographic perspective. Like, what are the odds that I will find myself in Napa with a babysitter so I can eat at French Laundry sometime in the next 10 years? Not very high. But now, I can’t even make the list without feeling wistful.

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Ahhh…food allergies. The fun that never stops.

Well, kidlet’s allergic! I mean, we knew this. Or suspicioned it anyway. Now we have incontrovertible, medical evidence.

Poor kid!

Positive reactions in order of severity: Egg, peanut, salmon, almond, mixed fin fish, and hazelnuts.

Negative reactions: wheat, dairy, and soy.

The thing about allergy testing for food (and this is about the peanuts, although the allergist says we can take that reaction to the bank) is that you can’t look at a positive clinical test as proof of an allergy. Lots of people (myself included) will have strong clinical reactions to foods they eat without any noticeable problems. You have to take clinical reactions in conjunction with actual ingestion reactions to really diagnose a problem. So, we’re pretty clear about eggs, salmon makes a bit of sense considering the bagel vomit, and almond fits with rash (Maybe. The rash didn’t respond to Benadryl, which everyone seems to think it should have, if it was an allergic reaction). But peanuts? I guess I can’t really be sure because he doesn’t really like peanuts, or peanut butter, so I’m not positive he’s ever knowingly encountered peanut. Ugh.

So the goal is to eliminate all these foods from his diet (no real challenge, with the exception of fish, he doesn’t really eat any of these things anyway) and then “challenge” some of the lesser reactive ones (like salmon) after he’s been vomit free for some period of time.

This made complete sense until I came home and started talking things out with my mom, and friends. I started to remember other episodes of vomiting that I had attributed to ear infections, or that we couldn’t attribute to anything. And we had told the allergist that he’d been vomit-free for months prior to the egg confirming episode in July, except that the more I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn’t true at all.

Am I resisting the “I have an allergic kid” label? Yes. To some degree I am. I was allergic to eggs when I was younger – I used to get hives if I ate them. So my parents just didn’t feed me eggs. No big deal. Now, my kid’s allergic to them, and we have EpiPens stashed all over the place, we’ve scratch tested him (which he HATED), and we’re obsessively reading labels.

We’re pretty nervous to take him out to eat, even if we bring him his own food. Most of the places we like to go serve eggs. What if there is egg on the table and he touches it? And then picks up his food and puts it in his mouth? I’m afraid that any packaged food (particularly crackers or cookies) might have been processed in a facility that also processes nuts or egg products. (I know some labels say, but that’s a voluntary disclosure so if a label doesn’t say, can I trust it?) I’m pretty sure vomiting will be the extent of his reaction; he doesn’t have asthma and kids with asthma are more likely to have life-threatening reactions, but the allergist said he usually advises parents who have kids that are vomiting from food ingestion to use the EpiPen, because vomiting is classified as an anaphylactic reaction. OHMYMAUDE. The more I know, the less secure I feel.

And sending him to friends houses to play? This seems insurmountable to me. Here’s my toddler and his list of allergies, and his EpiPen, and, and, and…who wants that responsibility? Babysitters? You see how this is spiraling.

It’ll all be alright. I just need to adjust, and have a few weeks of no vomiting and give myself  a chance to chill the hell out.

I’ll chill out, right?

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