living with allergies
Top tips for making life easier
When Jonah was diagnosed it was confusing and I received so much conflicting advice. If you suspect your child has a food allergy you may naturally be feeling worried and overwhelmed. However finding out they have allergies doesn’t have to define your life. This is what I’ve found out on living with allergies so far and some of my top tips - from one parent to another….
1. Be persistent
Getting to a diagnosis is a subject in its own right and can be a struggle. My strongest recommendation here is to trust your instincts and be persistent. Of course seek medical advice but never forget that you know your child better than anyone.
2. Be prepared
Being prepared is the best thing ever for reducing stress and ensuring your child never misses out. Carry around treats in your bag just in case. If you’re travelling, bring provisions as you never know when a flight or train will be delayed. Probably the most important thing from your child’s perspective is birthday parties so they don’t feel they are missing out. Always ask the parents in advance what food will be there so you can prepare something similar – including birthday cake!
3. Find your tribe
Friends and family are of course a wonderful support but they don’t always understand so finding others that face similar challenges can be really helpful. With food allergies being 5 to 8 times more prevalent in kids than adults there are likely to be some in your network. Alternatively there are some really great support groups online (see below) which I found invaluable. They are also brilliant ways of hearing about new free from food on the market.
4. Check & double check
It sounds obvious but ingredients change all the time, when once it was safe it might no longer be or where one flavour might be safe, another might not. Check and double check!
5. Help others
The same goes with checking even when your family has cooked, we can’t expect others to be experts. Try not to get annoyed, rather help them by offering to bring certain ingredients like margarine, milk and bread to family occasions.
When you feel you’ve received poor service eating out please complain to the Food Standards Agency. Whilst eating out has improved massively, there have been so many occasions when restaurants have got it wrong, made mistakes or just couldn’t tell us what was in their food. Complaining isn’t about being grumpy or rude, it’s about ensuring establishments are fulfilling their responsibility to train and educate their staff so that others don’t suffer.
Though food allergies can be tricky at times, a real positive for me personally is that I’ve become so much more knowledgeable on nutrition and my eyes have been opened as to what our food contains. And of course depending on the severity of your child’s allergy, they might just grow out of it.
Below are just a few of the organisations and groups that I’ve personally found very supportive or helpful. Good luck on your journey x
Allergy UK is the leading national charity providing support, advice and information for those living with allergic disease https://www.allergyuk.org/
Anaphylaxis Campaign UK supports everyone affected by anaphylaxis and severe allergies with access to comprehensive factsheets https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/
Food Standards Agency is a government agency set to up ensure people can trust that the food they buy and eat is safe and what it says it is. https://www.food.gov.uk/contact/consumers/feedback/complaints-and-comments
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care. The NICE guidelines for diagnosis might be able to help you engage with your GP or health practitioner
Facebook Support Groups
Breastfeeding with CMPA and Other Food Allergies is a lovely supportive community for mamas breastfeeding babies with CMPA and other food allergies. It really has been a wonderful group to be linked in to.
Cows Milk Protein Allergy Support Group – support for the day to day management of Cows Milk and Multiple Protein Allergies in infancy and childhood