Peanut Allergy Testing: Our Christmas Miracle

Our lives completely changed when my son, Bowan was diagnosed with a peanut allergy + other food allergies at 14 months old. We had to learn a new way of living. I had to take Bowan to specialists + office visits + even ER visits. The diagnosis was devastating + literally broke my heart. Like the Japanese saying goes, that broken space in my heart is repaired with a metal filling, because it will absolutely never be the same. Just last week, we expereinced a food allergy Christmas miracle. 

I'm going to talk a little bit about medical information here, but clearly, I am absolutely not a doctor or allergist, I'm just a mom that's trying to share about my experience. If you are looking for help with allergies, please make an appointment with a board certified allergist.

Almost two months ago, Bowan had a severe allergic reaction to kiwi. It was an unknown allergy + a very scary experience for the kids + I. I administered Auvi-Q to Bowan at home, with his brothers Breck + Bridger watching. Bowan got another shot of epinephrine at the hospital when his reaction became biphasic + started back up again. Because of this reaction, we needed to do some allergy testing to confirm the kiwi allergy. We went to Children's Hospital downtown Aurora/Denver to see the allergy + EoE specialists. Bowan's blood work, indeed confirmed a kiwi allergy. 

Food Allergy story, food allergy testing

Bowan's anaphalyctic reaction to kiwi literally left me with nightmares for weeks. But, it also brought an incredible surprise. All of Bowan's other known food allergies went down. The allergists track IgE numbers of the food proteins that people with allergies react to. The most surprising result of the blood testing was that the peanut IgE dropped. The peanut levels were low enough, that our allergist at Children's wanted to challenge it!

food allergy Peanut oral food Challenge

When clinical allergy testing suggests a patient has outgrown an allergy, the safest way to test this is through an Oral Food Challenge. This is done in a hospital setting, at prescribed doses + at set intervals, to watch for even the slightest reaction. If a reaction does occur, the patient will be treated right away. I knew going into this challenge that we had a 50/50 chance of Bowan passing the challenge. But, I decided it was worth a shot because avoiding peanut is seriously so incredibly hard. I honestly don't think I've ever done anything more difficult in my life. And, I've had three natural childbirths. I will always choose childbirth over food allergies, if I only had a choice! Avoiding a food due to a life threatening allergy seriously wears on the soul + takes so much pre-planning, it is absolutely exhausting. 

Food Allergy: Oral Food Challenge

Our food challenge took place last week on the 9th floor of Children's Hospital Colorado. It was the pulmonary floor. Completely equipped at the highest level to treat any respiratory distress caused from an allergic reaction as a result of a failed food challenge. Ironically enough, Bowan + I stayed on this exact floor 2 1/2 years ago when he was hospitalized for 3 days due to respiratory distress with RSV. Bowan's peanut allergy was confirmed via blood work 2 days before that RSV stay. This recent hospital visit really came full circle. Below is a photo of Bowan riding in the ambulance to Children's downtown. 

Toddler with RSV
toddler skin testing allergy
Bowan Peanut Challenge 2 (1 of 1).jpg

Bowan is such a strong kid. He's been through so much. He's been poked and prodded + had painful allergic reactions. He faced his recent oral food challenge like such a big, strong boy. He was afraid because he knew he was going to eat peanut. Ever since his first exposure to peanut at 14 months, he's spent his entire life avoiding peanut. And, now he was going to eat it. That is a lot to ask of a 3 year old. He did it. And, after all this heartache, he passed. Just days shy of his 4th birthday he at 16.7 peanuts or 5000mg of peanut protein + passed an oral food challenge. 

Peanut allergy: oral food challenge

We experienced a true Christmas miracle! Bowan outgrew his peanut allergy. Only 20% of kids with a peanut allergy will outgrow the allergy. Living with food allergies has never been about the food. It's not been about peanut or almond or wheat or any other food that we couldn't have. Not the food. Not at all. It's been the exclusion, the painful reactions. The extreme medical bills. The extra hours working just to make a dent in the medical bills. The lost time at the appointments. The painful blood draws that a little toddler just doesn't understand. We praise Jesus for Bowan's Christmas blessing, but our walk with food allergies is far from over. 

Skin testing for peanut allergy
Bowan Peanut Challenge-6.jpg
Peanut Allergy: food allergy testing
Peanut allergy testing

Here Bowan is learning how to self administer epinephrine from a nurse. 

Bowan Peanut Challenge
peanut allergy OIT treatment

Just 6 months ago, I flew with Bowan + Bridger out to Utah to See Dr. Jones of Rocky Mountain Allergy to pursue Oral Immunotherapy treatment. I took the trip to get Bowan on the waitlist, because honestly, I just couldn't see how I would handle all of the difficulties of sending a son to Kindergarten with a peanut allergy + multiple life threatening food allergies. I was desperate. He requested blood work + we got all of Bowan's IgE levels then. IgE levels can change over time. But, it was so surprising to see that the levels dropped over the past 6 months. A miraculous surprise.

I sure have learned that people living with food allergies are an underserved community. There is still much work to be done. We need to spread more empathy + we need to fund more research. If you can help anyone in anyway, please do. 

 

Photography by: // © Kathleen Peachey + Lindsey Lee & Co. 

 

Teal Allergy Awareness Earrings by: Allergy Mom Depot

 

Other Posts you might like:

Our Peanut Allergy Diagnosis

The Heartbreaking side of life with Food Allergies

10 Tips for the New Allergy Mom 

Brene Brown Quote

Vegan Lemon Parsley Rice from our local Whole Foods, Colorado

I focus on feeding my family fresh plant-based meals.I have always valued health. I hope to instill this lifestyle in my own children. Maintaining a healthy diet is even more important to me now that I have a family of 5. Health is really the center of who we are. We love finding fresh + health-giving foods from our local Whole Foods in Colorado. 

vegan gluten free dinner

Whole Foods carefully regulates which foods + companies they place on their shelves in order to maintain the focus on health-giving products for customers. Some "ingredients" that are not found in the store are high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, and artificial flavors + sweeteners + preservatives + colors. I love the selection of nutritious foods at our local Whole Foods. I also love to create fresh meals with the produce I find in the store as well.

vegan gluten free dinner

Lemon Parsely Rice + Fresh Sautéed Vegetables

Ingredients:

Rice:

2 Cups Rice

4 Cups Water

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Rice Seasoning:

1 Bunch Fresh Parsley

3 Tablespoons Jarred Minced Garlic

1 Fresh Lemon

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Salt + Pepper to taste

Sautéed Vegetables:

1 Bunch Easter Raddishes

2 Large Portobello Mushrooms

2 Cups Sliced Button Mushrooms

1 Green Pepper

1 Red Pepper

1 Zucchini

1/2 Red Onion

Olive Oil for Sautéing 

Lemon Parsley Rice

Directions:

Prepare rice according to package directions. Many rice varieties are 1:2 ratio of rice to water. Add olive oil instead of butter for a vegan option. Prepare your pot of water for your rice as you begin to work on the next steps of your meal.

Wash the lemon. Next, grate your lemon rind over a medium sized bowl for your rice seasoning. Grate 2 Tablespoons of fresh lemon rind. Then, slice your lemon + squeeze two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice into your mixing bowl. Reserve remaining lemon juice to add to vegetables or rice to taste. Then, add 3 tablespoons jarred minced garlic to the mixing bowl. Then, add 1 tsp of pink Himalayan salt + 1 tsp of fresh cracked pepper to your mixing bowl (adjust to taste). Wash the bunch of fresh parsley. Next, mince the parsley on a cutting board. Add one cup of fresh parsley to your mixing bowl. Mince the remaining parsley + reserve as a garnish toping for the rice.

Next, place a large colander in your clean sink. Wash your vegetables. Begin to slice your vegetables to sauté in the frying pan. Chop the vegetables lengthwise on a large cutting board + place on a large clean plate. Fill your large frying pan with 1 tsp of olive oil + place a thin layer of vegetables in the pan. Turn heat to medium high. Turn vegetables with a spatula + continue to watch the rice. As the first batch of vegetables are cooking, slice the Easter radishes + arrange on plates. Watch vegetables in the pan + continue to turn. As the vegetables become sautéed, transfer to plates + add additional vegetables to sauté.

Once rice has cooked + you've allowed it to stand covered according to package directions, add the prepared mixing bowl of rice seasoning to the pot of rice. Stir + cover until vegetables are finished sautéing.  

When the vegetables are all sautéed, scoop rice onto individual plates. Sprinkle the reserved minced parsley on the top of the rice. Drizzle a small amount of reserved lemon juice on top of the rice as well. Add sautéed vegetables around your rice. Set your table with salt + pepper to add to taste.

For kids, try placing some sautéed vegetables in a corn tortilla with rice added on top + roll up. Kids generally love food rolled in a tortilla. 

For a garlic allergy, omit garlic and substitute 1 bunch minced chives (if chives are tolerated, they are in the same botanical family as garlic). My son, Bowan, once had a garlic allergy. He has since outgrown it + now often eats all forms of garlic with no reactions. As, hives on the face were his previous reaction as a toddler. 

vegan dinner

Enjoy your fresh, family-friendly meal! This batch of rice should be enough to allow you to save 1-2 servings of rice for lunch for the following day. Try adding it to corn tortillas with fresh vegetables + a sliced avocado, for a quick grab-and-go lunch option.  Do you modify the presentation of your dinner for your kids? Like, adding your meal to a tortilla for them? I'd love to know in the comments.

 

Photography by: // Lindsey Lee & Co

vegan lemon parsley rice

 

Looking for additional vegan, gluten-free, allergy friendly recipes?

Try these below:

Welch's® Fresh: Frozen Grape Acai Smoothie

Sunflower Seed Sauce: Peanut-free Version of Peanut Sauce

Green Goodness Cilantro Sauce

Let Them Eat Cake! With Allergen Free Bakes

Allergen Free Bakes is a new bakery in Denver, Colorado that is free of the top allergens + serves up inclusion, joy, safety + of course, cake! As a mom of a child with food allergies, it sure can take a toll on me to provide a safe treat for my son for every party, event or outing. Food is included at almost every event + sometimes food even feels like the main attraction. I was so excited when Allergen Free Bakes started up in Denver, as our family really doesn't get to do typical things like head out to a bakery, or order a cake or dessert for a party. I'm typically the baker. It's just one of the requirements of us allergy moms.

Denver Blogger

Let them eat cake! Is the focus + goal of Allergen Free Bakes. The founders of the bakery, Angie + Steve both have allergies + Celiac Disease themselves. Plus, they have two sons with food allergies. They live the daily struggles of the management of food allergies + auto-immune disease. Because they live it + because they have big hearts, they started a business based on compassion + empathy. 

I was lucky enough to meet Angie + Steve in person at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. Angie + I since have become friends. Angie is an incredibly positive person, yet she is open to sharing her heart that has been broken, yet presses on... 

Denver bakery nut free bakery

As individuals with food allergies, we know how it feels to be excluded. We decline invitations to dine out, or we accept, but only order drinks. Sitting plate-less at a table keeps us safe, but leaves us disconnected. -Angie

Kathleen Peachey Photography

We live in a society where food is so readily available, almost literally on every street corner. Families living with food allergies + Celiac Disease are naturally kind of set apart from the rest of society. Because we can't just grab + go, our time is spent very differently. Planning + preparing safe meals is just part of life with food allergies + Celiac. And, it honestly impacts many other areas of our lives. 

Gluten free cupcakes
denver blogger

As parents of kids with food allergies, we know how it feels to watch exclusion. We cook the night before our kids attend parties so they'll have something to eat while the other partygoers have pizza + ice cream. We teach them to keep their food separate, and to not share their food, for fear of cross contamination. That made me tear up. We teach our children not to share. Food allergy life is challenging in many ways. -Angie

Gluten free cupcakes
Denver Nut free bakery

Shortly after our business launched, we were approached by a couple planning an inclusive wedding. We sat with coffee + cake sample + they told us about their family + friends with food allergies. They chose to have us provide all of the wedding desserts, though only a small set of their guests needed food accommodations. This compassionate couple wanted everyone to come to the same table. That's beautiful! -Angie

kathleen peachey photography allergen free bakes

I hosted Christmas at our house this year. I embrace the cooking + planning + cleaning I have to do for my family. But, honestly, I get very overwhelmed at times. Sometimes, I even get a little angry about what's required of me. I just want to feel normal. I didn't want to take on everything on Christmas day if I did't have to. I wanted to spend time playing with my kids. That's what they will remember. Plus, I had a three month old baby that still needed to nurse often, so I was surely crunched for time. 

kathleen peachey photography lifestyle photography

I ordered a beautiful chocolate cake from Allergen Free Bakes for Christmas. It was double layered with vanilla frosting + topped with ganache. It was stunning + delicious. Plans for Christmas day changed last minute + I was going to have more guests at a short notice. I asked Angie if she made cinnamon rolls that we could have for Christmas breakfast. Of course she did! And, of course they're amazing! Christmas season is a very busy time + she accommodated my request + I was able to place 3 orders of cinnamon rolls last minute. I will always be grateful for her graciousness to likely over-extend herself to fill orders during the busy holiday season.

nut free cupcakes Gluten free cupcakes
Food allergy mom

Part of our job as allergy-friendly bakers is sourcing the safest ingredients with the lowest risk of cross-contamination. We contact companies frequently, as we know manufacturing practices + ingredients can change with zero fanfare. We disclose all of our ingredients, + the companies we use on our website. It's important for people to know what's in their food, so they can make informed choices. -Angie

Nut free bakery

Allergen Free Bakes makes many incredible desserts. Everything in their bakery is top-8 free, vegan, gluten-free, celiac-safe, nut-free, seed-free, corn + yeast-free. This is incredible + so hard to find. Their bakery items include: ganache filled cupcakes, banana breakfast cake, bundtletts, toasted coconut chocolate cream pie, signature cupcakes, cinnamon rolls + banana cupcakes. 

Kathleen Peachey Photography
lifestyle photography

When you can't find the sunshine, be the sunshine. Life often has unexpected difficulties + set-backs. Small business owners oftentimes experience many hardships, growing-pains + set-backs on top of "life". Allergen Free Bakes recently had a pipe break + a water-leak in their kitchen, so they are closed for repairs. Of course this is heartbreaking + overwhelming. I believe in them so much. Starting a small business takes bravery. But, even the bravest of creatives can still face discouragement. Can you do me a huge favor? Can you please head over to their Instagram + leave some encouragement for them? It would mean the world to me. You may also spread so much kindness to help change the course of someone's life. Hugs. 

 

We feel honored to provide baked goods for our food allergy community + the people who support their safety + inclusion. Our motto is: Let them eat cake! Together! -Angie

 

Let the beauty we love be what we do. -Rumi

 

Photography by:// Kathleen Peachey        // Please visit Kathleen Peachy on Instagram to see her beautiful work.

The heartbreaking side of life with food allergies

My heart is broken today. Sometimes I feel like my heart breaks so far apart I may not be able to put it back together again. Sometimes it hurts so much, I don't want to put the pieces back together. Sometimes I wonder if this is just how life will always be with food allergies? But, I was given some wise advice: Be the person you needed when you were younger. So, that's what I'm going to be right now. I'm going to be honest + lay my heart out here for all the internet to see. Because these are the words I needed to hear two years ago. Honesty, I still need to hear them today.

food allergy diagnosis

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you -Maya Angelou. I realize that some people in my life may think it revolves around food allergies. But, honestly, I hold the pain + sadness in so tight that it hurts. I try to bear the pain + responsibility of managing a child with life threatening allergies. But, days like today, I just can't carry that load anymore. It's like I walk around with a plastic bag over my head + I'm getting just enough oxygen to survive, but sometimes that bag gets really tight + I start to suffocate. That's today. 

food allergy diagnosis

My middle son, Bowan, has multiple life threatening food allergies. We get by + we deal with them. But, it's hard. Sometimes it's just completely overwhelming. What always overwhelms me the most is when he has an allergic reaction in my own kitchen. Our house is supposed to be a safe space. Our happy place. A place where my three kids are loved, encouraged + feel safe. But, there have been times when I've unknowingly bought, stored + fed my son foods that could kill him. I know I sound so overly dramatic. But, this needs to be said for my fellow allergy moms. This is the reality we face. This is what I needed to relate to two years ago. I still need to relate to other moms that struggle with the same complex issues of life with food allergies as I do.

food allergy diagnosis

Back to the feeling judged piece that my life revolves around food allergies... Feeding kids? It's a lot of work right? I mean, even for the family with no food restrictions, it can feel all-consuming at times. There's the grocery shopping. Researching prices or couponing. Spending time to shop, or ordering online. Either meal-planning or winging it. Then there's the snacks. I mean, that can feel like all day, everyday. There's the messes. I've never met a kid that can eat without making a mess. Have you?! The non-messy eaters I know don't make messes because the mom's spend time to feed them + make sure the food ends up in their mouths. My point is as moms, food is a huge part of our lives wether we like it or not. 

food allergy diagnosis

So, food is a big part of motherhood. But, no one really talks about this. The responsibilities relating to food are high. But, what about trying to feed one child one food + the other a different, allergenic food? What about preparing a safe + an unsafe food? To me, it's like having a loaded gun in the house. Not just in the house, but on the kitchen table, or on your child's hands, or spilled all over the floor, or wiped all over the wall, or all over your non-allergic child's face. I just can't live that way. It sucks all the joy out of motherhood, out of my life. Maybe this will be easier when my kids are older, but I'm not going to spend my days wishing their childhood away. This is a complexity of mothering a child with food allergies. Some families may be able to graciously navigate this complexity of safe + unsafe food, but I just can't do it. Honestly, I don't want to think this hard about every move I make in my own house. Living with only safe foods in our house brings a sense of normalcy to me. I love that little bit of peace. It's a ray of sunshine to me. 

food allergy diagnosis

Thank you for taking a peek into my heart + kitchen +  our life with food allergies. We all face challenges + difficulties + hardships. But, I think we really do each other a disservice when we don't share them. I hope that by sharing this small piece of my story, that your difficulties feel a little more validated + seen. It's hard for me to walk around with a plastic bag over my head + I don't want you to be doing that, too.

Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid. Having courage + showing courage mean we face our fears. We are able to say, I have fallen, but I will get up. -Maya Angelou

 

Photography by: //  Kathleen Peachey Colorado + Worldwide

 

Related Posts:

Our First Few Weeks as a Family of Five

A New Allergy Diagnosis: The Emotions it Brings

Ten Tips for the New Allergy Mom 

 

 

 

Lunch Ideas: Let's have some fun

Lunch. Everybody eats it. Somebody needs to make it.  Some of us enjoy it. Some of us really don't want to make lunch. Ever. Again. But, the reality is that we all need to eat to survive. Our kids surely need to eat to survive. But, we don't want our kids just surviving, right? We want them thriving on healthy, nutritious food. In an ideal world, right? Here are some ideas to make lunch more fun + more nutritious for your kids + you!

Kids food art

Strawberry Sunflower Plate

Ingredients: 5 strawberries, 1 banana, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, 1/4 watermelon 

Directions: Wash and slice strawberries lengthwise. Slice banana, Rinse + dry shredded carrots. (I buy pre-shredded carrots, my kids like the texture of thin carrots the best). Slice watermelon lengthwise into thin pieces. Arrange banana slices into a circle in the center of the plate. Pile them as high + thick as you'd like. Arrange strawberries in a flower petal pattern surrounding the bananas. Overlap the layers of strawberries + continue with as many rows as you'd like. Arrange carrot slices in a stem shape, add loos pieces for grass + create two leaves by connecting two carrot slices together. Finally, use a cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the watermelon + place surrounding your flower. Get as creative as you'd like + add or subtract anything you see here.

Kids lunch allergy friendly

Fruit Cabobs

Ingredients: 1 small Watermelon + 3 Bananas

Directions: Slice bananas lengthwise + set on a plate. Slice watermelon down the center, then cut into slices, next cut into cubes. Place watermelon slices on a plate + set aside. Work together with your kids to create a pattern of pink, yellow, pink yellow on your cabob sticks Enjoy!

kids food art

Apple Slice Heart

Ingredients: 1 Apple or 1 bag pre-sliced apples

Directions: Wash + slice an apple, or open your bag of pre-sliced apples. Arrange in a heart shape on your table. You can arrange one + ask your child to create one of their own.

yogurt bowl kids lunch

Animal Dairy-Free Yogurt Bowl

Ingredients: Dairy-free yogurt + hemp seeds + blueberries: fresh or frozen.

Directions: Pour your yogurt into the bowl, sprinkle hemp seeds for a smile, add blueberries for eyes.

solar system food art

Fruit + Veggie Solar System

Ingredients: 1 lemon, 1 kiwi, 1 clementine, a handful of: green grapes, red grapes, blueberries, raspberries, cherry tomatoes. And, 1/4 cup heriloom pepper.

Directions: Print out a photo of the Solar System from the internet. Or, open a book with a photo of the Solar System. Next, slice the lemon into thin slices + halve the red + green grapes. Next, Peel the skin off the kiwi + cut into thin slices. Then, cut your clementine into thin slices + cut a sliver of the peel off to create Saturn's rings. Next, use a small circle cookie cutter to cut circle shapes out of the heirloom pepper. Wash + dry your blueberries + raspberries. Next, arrange your fruit into the order of the Solar System. 

Just like Dr. Seuss says in There's No Place Like Space: Mallory - Valerie - Emily Mickels - just - saved - up - nine hundred ninety-nine nickels! Sun: lemon - Mercury: green grape - Venus: cherry tomato - Earth: kiwi - Mars: purple grape - Jupiter: heirloom pepper - Saturn: clementine - Uranus: blueberry - Neptune: raspberry. 

kids rice cake lunch ideas

Rice Cake Friends

Ingredients: Small rice cakes (I used the Happy Family brand), blueberries, SunButter, grapes, apples, heirloom carrots, Enjoy Life mini chips chocolate chips.

Directions: Spread SunButter onto some of the rice cakes. Slice up carrots + apples. Create the fun faces with the above ingredients.

allergy friendly snack

SunButter Stick People

Ingredients: SunButter, celery + strawberries

Directions: Wash + cut celery stalks into equal sizes for arms + legs. Cut one long stalk for the body. Spread with SunButter. Place stick figure on plate. Wash strawberries + add for the head.

Melon food art

Melon Friend

Ingredients: Cantaloupe, kiwi + clementines.

Directions: Wash the kiwi, cantaloupe + clementines. Cut the skin off the kiwi, then slice. Cut the cantaloupe in half, then fourths. Cut out the seeds. Trim into smaller slices that look like a little smile. Peel the clementines. Place the fruit in the shape of a face on the plate.

garbage truck lunch

Edible Garbage Trucks

Ingredients: Apples, colby jack cheese (or-dairy-free cheese), celery, strawberries + blueberries.

Directions: Wash the fruit. Cut the cheese into squares. Cut the celery into small rectangles. Cut the top of the strawberries off + slice the rest. Cut the sides of the apples off, then cut into slices. Place the large apple slices on the plate with the cheese squares slightly overlapping in front. Place the celery rectangle on the cheese + the strawberry tops under the cheese + apple for tires. Add the small apple slice for the back hopper. Cut up additional fruits + cheese for "trash" to throw into the hopper before eating.

Bento box lunch

Dairy-Free Bento Box

Ingredients: 1 container dairy-free raspberry yogurt, 2 tbsp mini chips, 2 tbsp hemp seeds, 2 tbsp sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup banana slices, 1/4 cup strawberry slices, 1/4 cup cucumber slices, 2 tbsp dairy-free cream cheese, 1 tsp dill, small lettuce pieces.

Directions: Dairy-Free Yogurt Bowl: Pour the dairy-free raspberry yogurt into your bento box. In a pattern, sprinkle sunflower seeds + mini chips + hemp seeds over the top. Create any pattern you'd love!

Fruit + Veggie Bento Box: Place the strawberry + banana slices in a pattern on one side of your bento box. Create sandwiches with your cucumber slices by spreading one slice with dairy-free cream cheese, then sprinkle with dill. top with a cucumber slice. Place a small piece of lettuce between your cucumber sandwiches. Enjoy!

Allergy friendly Lunch food art

Strawberry + Blueberry Patterned Plate

Ingredients: 1 cup fresh strawberries + 1/4 cup frozen blueberries. 

Directions: Wash strawberries. Cut the tops off of two strawberries + place in the center of the plate. Create a circle of frozen blueberries around the 2 large strawberries. Next, Cut the tops off of the remaining strawberries. Slice strawberries lengthwise. Then, cut the tops of the strawberries into a "V shape" to create a heart. Place in a circle around the plate. Enjoy!

What do you do to make lunch more enjoyable for you + your kids? Let me know in the comments.

Photography by: // Lindsey Lee & Co.

Fun & Easy food art for kids. Easy lunches. Toddler Snacks

10 Tips for the New Allergy Mom

If you're a newly diagnosed allergy mom, my heart goes out to you.  Just over a year ago, my son was diagnosed with multiple life threatening allergies.  I felt so overwhelmed with all I needed to learn + all I needed to do to keep my baby safe.  An enormous amount of new responsibility was placed on me with the weight of my son's multiple food allergy diagnosis, he was only 15 months old, so I needed to care for his allergies.  His allergies were completely out of his control + purely my responsibility.  Kids often seem to be diagnosed with allergies as babies + toddlers, so the responsibility placed on the new allergy mom is incredibly high. I completely understand + hope to help you.  

Here are 10 tips for the new allergy mom:

1. An EpiPen case or bag

EpiPens need to go with you and/or your child wherever you go.  They are a lifesaving device + emergencies are unexpected, so the EpiPens always need to go with you + your little one, even if it's just a quick trip to the park down the street.  You just never know.  The EpiPens are also heat + cold sensitive, so having the EpiPens in a specific bag helps to easily bring them with you when you leave the house + then, hang them on the same hook by the door every time you come back home.  It also helps to hang the EpiPen bag up high so the little ones don't accidentally get into the EpiPen bag.  It helps to always use the same bag + hook so other caregivers always know where to get and replace the EpiPen bag.

Food Allergy EpiPen Bag

We just got this new EpiPen case at Target.  It is so fun + cute.  I'm the one carrying it, so it's fun for me.  This week these Oh Joy! cases are free at Target with the purchase of 3 first aid items.  Hey, we needed more band-aids anyway.  

2. An action plan + informational sheets to hang on the inside of your pantry door or cabinet door in your kitchen

It is so helpful to have information printed out about food allergies that are easily visible in your kitchen.  Your kitchen is the primary place your child will be eating.  So, reactions are most likely to occur in our own kitchens.  If an emergency does happen, it's helpful to have all the information readily available.  Also, we never know when we might have a babysitter + it's so helpful to have all the necessary information available to go over with them + for them to check if needed.

An Action Plan for Anaphylaxis   

Epinephrine Myths + Facts 

Be Food Allergy Aware 6 That Save Lives 

Facts about Food Allergies, listing mild symptoms, severe symptoms + ways a child would describe a reaction

3. A backpack

The days of just running out of the house with a cell phone + keys quickly faded.  So, I decided that I wanted to carry a backpack with the kids + my necessary items.  It's helpful to put your EpiPen bag right in the backpack with your safe snacks, water bottles, diapers, keys, wallet, cell phone, etc.  One additional thing that helped me decide that I'd rather carry a backpack over a purse or diaper bag was that I could just wear it over my shoulders + it wasn't as cumbersome or worrisome as having a diaper bag that I'd set down + maybe need to leave somewhere as I chased my little ones around the park or museum.  

4. A water bottle with a covered mouth piece

Let's just say kids put their mouths and hands on everything.  There will be times when other kids reach their hands into your stroller or backpack even + having a covered mouthpiece on your little one's water bottle is so helpful in preventing them from exposure to different allergens.

5. Allergy awareness stickers

Personally, I think allergy awareness is key.  If others don't know about the peanut or dairy or sesame allergy, how can they help?  How can they be proactive if they don't know that a severe reaction is possible?  I personally love the stickers from Minted. They are adorable while spreading awareness.

Minted allergy label water bottles

6. The Complete Peanut Allergy Handbook by, Scott H. Sicherer, M.D., + Terry Malloy

This book was such a helpful resource in the early days of our peanut allergy diagnosis.  I highly recommend this book, as it is very comprehensive in managing food allergies.  Also, if peanut is not one of your allergens, you can just substitute peanut for dairy or fish or wheat, etc. as you read, because the principles outlined in this book really can apply to all types of food allergies.  The book includes five parts: An Introduction to Peanut Allergy, Getting Help for Your Peanut Allergy, How Peanut Allergy is Treated, Living with a Peanut Allergy + Looking to the Future.  This book was so helpful, I hope you are able to read it soon.  Also, if you have friends or family that are interested in learning about the allergy + supporting you + your child, it may also be a great idea to send them a copy so they can help support you + your little one.

7. SunButter

SunButter is free from the top 8 food allergens.  It is such a great alternative to peanut butter + other nut butters.  Plus, it is not made from a legume like soy or pea that can often cross-react with peanut.  An allergy to sunflower is possible, just as it is possible to have an allergy to any food. So, if sunflowers are safe for you, I highly recommend!  Not only is SunButter a great allergy friendly choice, but so nutritious as well.  SunButter has the same amount of protein as peanut butter, double the zinc, 1/3 less saturated fat, twice as much fiber + nearly triple the amount of iron.  Knowing that SunButter is so nutritious helps to make eating SunCups even more fun!

8. Journal

A journal dedicated to food allergies has been very helpful for me.  It still is.  An allergy journal was especially helpful in the early days when my little guy had reactions to foods that were not top 8 allergens (peanut, tree nuts, dairy, egg, soy, fish, shellfish + wheat).  So, things were surely more confusing.  It's been helpful to have a page with the diagnosed food allergies + the skin + blood results so I can compare over time.  I've also kept a page with suspected allergens.  It's also been useful to have a page with safe foods listed, they surely can change at anytime, but it is so helpful to come back to when feeling like so many foods have been ruled out.

food allergy journal

9. Extra supplies in your EpiPen bag

Your EpiPens will go with you wherever you go + your child go, so it's best to be fully prepared.  I personally feel best treating allergies in a proactive way, rather than a reactive way.  In that, I'd rather prevent or avoid reactions as much as possible.  Here are some things I carry in my EpiPen bag:

     1. Wipes (check the ingredients, some wipes can contain seed oils)

     2. Hand Spray (Buy one with safe ingredients or make your own: water + hand soap in a spray bottle)

     3. Happy band-aids (not necessarily allergy related, but you will surely need them at some point)

     4. Inhaler (if one is prescribed)

     5. Note from your child's allergist listing the allergies

     6. Allergy action plan

     7. Pre-measured Benadryl

     8. Anti-itch cream/topical Benadryl

10. SnackSafely.com

Did you know that the current U.S. food labeling laws make it very difficult to know if a packaged food is free from allergens by the label alone?  Snacksafely.com works with companies to verify that the products listed in the guide are free from specific allergens, including peanut.  This website is a great place to start if you feel overwhelmed with finding safe food for your little one.

I hope these 10 tips will help you to manage your new food allergy diagnosis a little easier.  I was there before + I know all the feelings + difficulties you are likely facing too.  Lives surely can change with a diagnosis.  I completely understand that + have lived it.  Up to 15 million Americans have food allergies.  Food allergies can be very isolating, yet many people live with them.  Keep reaching out, earning about food allergy management, new studies + treatments on the horizon.  I promise it does get easier as time goes on.