What To Do When Your Family Has Food Allergies

Posted by Grace McCalmon on

shutterstock_small By Roo Ciambriello My kids can tell you all about the Children's ER at Yale. And about ambulance rides. And about ambulance rides to the Children's ER at Yale. The first happened when my eldest was 18 months old, going in hard on some crackers and hummus. Turns out she's allergic to sesame, and sesame is in tahini, and tahini is in hummus. Thus began our wild journey into the world of food allergies. At the worst/most, my girls' allergies combined were milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, soy, wheat, sesame, mustard, and coconut. My heart dropped at the expansive diagnosis. "Here's a plate of air with a side of iceberg lettuce and a glass of purified water. Also, you have to wear beekeeper suits for the rest of your lives. I'm sure we can special-order them in cool colors. Please note, you're going to have to be homeschooled, but probably not by me. Maybe I can find a tutor who is amenable to wearing beekeeper couture." Thankfully, we were able to find a normal ... for us. It's interesting, food allergies still seem new, and half the battle is getting other people to commit to your own children's safety and inclusion. Food allergy parents get accused of thinking their children are special snowflakes and we're overbearing and helicopter-y, but realistically? Food allergies are life threatening. There's a reason severe allergies are now considered a disability by the ADA. Last fall, one of my girls had a horrific anaphylactic reaction with seizure-like symptoms... in a parking lot. Thankfully, I had Epi-pens in my bag and swiftly stuck one into her thigh. Thankfully, there was a fire department across the street and I ran with her in my arms, shouting for help. Thankfully, everything right happened on time. Food allergies are scary and stressful, but the good news is, they're manageable. Last year I launched a website for parents of kids with allergies, asthma, and eczema (surprise! all three can be related!). And this year, I'm launching an app to help parents (and coaches and aunts and playdate parents) make navigating food allergies a little bit easier. I'm grateful that 2015 affords me tools to help parent. The internet! Apps! I can press a button and Amazon sends cereal to my front door in two days! Allergy-friendly vitamins (shout out to the Smarty Pants crew)! And I'm hopeful that as people learn more about food allergies, taking care of them will become more community-based. Because it takes a village. Even if it's an internetty one. ;)
IMG_9287 If Scratch or Sniff founder/editor Roo Ciambriello could list all of her favorite things, they'd include her sweet little family, her app she's developing for the food allergy community, her other site, Semiproper, and every AMA Snoop Dogg has done on Reddit. Roo is a copywriter out of New Haven, Connecticut, and loves writing fun stories on the backs of potato chip bags. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
  Do you know someone who struggles with difficult food allergies? Share this post with them! What about you? What have your experiences been with food allergies? Any great tips and tricks for how to deal? We'd love to hear in the comments!

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