I've spent years learning about food allergies. I could spout statistics about how many children in America are affected by food allergies. I could lapse into medical speak and share about the accuracy of various types of food allergy testing.
What matters most to me, though, is how food allergies affect a child and in turn, the whole family.
I want to share our stories so that other people can understand what it means to deal with food allergies.
In the strictest sense, food allergies are an immediate reaction to a food that can result in anaphylactic shock. When Brennan was less than a year old, we learned that he was allergic to milk, eggs, and peanuts. All three of the foods caused severe reactions. Thankfully he outgrew two of the allergens and can now eat milk and eggs. He is still highly allergic to peanuts. I blogged about his last severe reaction, a reaction to peanut butter in a dessert he was served at church camp (Our Guardian Angel Deserves a Raise). He must avoid peanuts and any product that could be contaminated with peanuts. He carries a set of epi-pens (injectable epinephrine) wherever he goes. The shot of epinephrine will give us more time to seek medical treatment if he does have an allergic reaction.
Meanwhile, I've been avoiding milk for nearly 20 years. When I was a freshman in college, I started getting migraine headaches and eventually linked them to my consumption of milk or something containing milk. In addition, about a year and a half ago, I "accidentally" went gluten free for a few weeks and realized that I felt better in an overall sense. (Due to bad advice from a diabetic educator, I drastically cut back on my carb intake and therefore eliminated all bread products.) I decided to continue with a gluten-free diet for myself.
So there you have it... one kid avoiding peanuts, one adult avoiding milk and gluten, and one kid avoiding a whole mess of stuff.
Easy peasy, right? I often have people ask me what's left to eat. Come back tomorrow and I'll share what I normally cook for our family.
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