As moms, we all worry about our kids when we are not with them. But imagine if the simple things that are normal parts of childhood, like a friend's birthday party, eating lunch at school, or even spilled milk pose deadly dangers to them.
That's the situation faced by Natalie. Her daughter Emma has severe food allergies. She's allergic to every major food allergen except wheat, and each allergy is severe enough to be life-threatening if she's exposed.
Sounds like a stressful way to live, no? But Natalie, her husband Jeff and their older daughter, Violet, have found ways to work around Emma's allergies and have a normal family life.
Here some tips for dealing with your kids food allergies:
Find a way to enjoy normal family rituals: Emma enjoys Saturday morning pancakes just like the rest of her family; Natalie makes hers first to avoid any traces of allergens contaminating Emma's food, and uses an egg substitute and rice milk to stand in for the eggs and milk Emma can't eat.
Study ingredient lists: Natalie understands exactly what is safe and what isn't; ingredient lists might not list milk, for example, but will say "whey" or "casein," both of which are milk products and in foods you never would guess have dairy ingredients. She has to know every single ingredient in anything Emma eats.
Keep people in the loop: All of Emma's teachers, her friends' parents, and her classmates know that Emma has to stick to only the food she brings from home...there's no trading lunches for her. She brings her own pizza and cupcake that are safe for her to eat to birthday parties and it's become just part of normal life for everyone around them.
Be aware, but not obsessed: Natalie acknowledges she worries a lot about Emma when she is not with her, and the reality of what could happen from something as simple as another kid accidentally spilling milk on her is really scary. She tries to focus on the beauty of life with her family instead of their challenges and all the millions of things Emma can have instead of what she can't.
For more tips from Natalie, watch this video:
Do you know kids with severe food allergies? How do they and their families accommodate that?
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