I remember when our son broke out in hives after being introduced to yogurt for the first time. There’s nothing in the parenting manual when it comes to food allergies. It was alarming, but not near as alarming as when he reacted to eggs. Because Benadryl couldn’t contain his hives, we ended up in the emergency room. There are many truths of having a child with food allergies and I’m going to share mine in hopes that it’ll help someone else because I know how difficult it can be, especially in the beginning.
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Since my son had his reactions, he’s seen an allergy doctor. But, even a doctor can’t warn or teach you about the real truths of what it’s like to be a parent to a child with food allergies.
Things don’t always make sense
Back in the day, there wasn’t much information regarding food allergies. Doctors and scientists are only now finding out more about them. While it’s encouraging, there’s still a lack of knowledge about them and many people aren’t fully aware of them.
When my son reacted to eggs, it was after eating them for the third time. He had no problem gobbling them down and we were happy he was enjoying them until the hives started. How could someone react to something after eating something for the third time? It didn’t make sense to me, but I learned he had a delayed reaction. To this day, there are still things about allergies that I find baffling.
It’s scary and difficult
Of course, I speak from my own experience, but the worry that emits when you have a child with food allergies is beyond any and everything. It creates anxiety because every reaction can be different. It’s hard knowing that you can’t be in control of something that you know can harm your child.
For a long time, it was hard for me to accept that my son had food allergies. I didn’t want it to be true. Watching other people have things that he can’t have was devastating to me in the beginning. As time moved along and I learned more about them, some of those worries left me.
I knew that there were alternatives out there for him. I just had to find them and understand that him growing out of his food allergies as he grows is a likely possibility.
You learn to be creative and appreciate variety even more
The sucky part is that my son enjoyed eating the foods he reacted to. But, we’ve learned to introduce new foods, implement, and be creative when it comes to what we make for him.
One of the first things I set out to do was find things I knew my son could eat. So, we made our first trip to Whole Foods. I walked up and down aisles looking for things we could use to replace the things he couldn’t eat. I wanted him to have close to the same things we enjoyed and I knew there would come a time when he’d be more aware of food and question why daddy could eat something but he couldn’t.
We found vegan butter, yummier yogurt, breakfast foods he could enjoy, and so much more. I converted over to eating some of his foods too to make it easier. Then, I didn’t have to worry about using two different kinds of butter.
I learned to appreciate and be grateful every single time we found something he could have. There were times I wanted to jump up and down in joy at the grocery store because I was just so happy to find something for him!
Eating out is almost nonexistent
Since finding out about my son’s allergies, we’ve gone in phases with this because it’s hard to trust that what is made in a restaurant won’t be cross-contaminated with his allergens.
Our version of going out to eat isn’t as luxurious as the next person. We’d rather be in control of the situation. So, we always pack him a meal and snacks when we leave the house or plan to go out to eat.
Even a trip to the grocery store results in making sure we have food for the little guy. It has become part of a routine that we didn’t expect would come when I had him. This brings me to the next thing on my list of truths of having a child with food allergies.
More aware and conscious
One of the things you do when you find out your child has food allergies is learning to scour food labels. Everything you pick up, you flip over. I’m talking canned fruit, crackers, tomato sauce. Did you know there’s milk in some brands of tomato paste?
We always used to have those instant creamy noodles on hand, but being more aware of my son’s food labels made me more aware of ours as well. It’s amazing the things you learn when being aware of food labels. We found ourselves leaving behind the creamy noodles and making more things homemade.
We eat healthier
Because we’re more aware, we make smarter food choices. We buy more fresh and less processed. Not that we never eat junk, but it’s substantially less than when my son was still getting only breastmilk.
We tend to reach for lots of fruits because my son loves them. I’d rather make something homemade versus buying it already made with preservatives. I appreciate the produce aisle much more than I used to. In turn, this has been one of the blessings of having a child with food allergies.
Your normal is different
I used to feel so bad that my son couldn’t enjoy things other kids could because of his food allergies. It made me sad to think that he couldn’t enjoy birthday cake or chocolate chip cookies. It took me time to understand that our normal was going to be different than others.
The way we celebrate birthdays is different from other families. We don’t go out and buy ice cream and cakes. We bake our own birthday cakes. In doing so, our celebrations are a little more special.
If we’re invited to an event where there is going to be food. I’m sure to find out what kind of food it is before we answering any invitations. If I can I will take food and make sure my son has something for dessert too. Otherwise, we’ll politely decline because I never want my son to feel left out at a social gathering just because he can’t eat cake like everyone else.
I’ve learned to find blessings in many of these truths about having a child with food allergies. As I’ve said in other posts, what we go through doesn’t define us. It may be a part of who we are but we don’t have to allow it to affect us negatively. Having a child with food allergies isn’t always easy and all of us have different battles and truths with it, but that’s bound to happen.