It can be difficult at first to explain your child’s food allergies to family and relatives after just finding out. Making it even more confusing is that food allergies are not just black and white. Severity plays a huge role in how they need to be handled and what precautions need to be taken. The important thing to remember is that as their parent, you are your child’s best advocate and it is up to you to make it clear what needs to be done to keep him or her safe. Below is an example of an email that can be sent to family. Keep it as simple as possible so that the message is not lost. There will be plenty of time later to add details.
After a scary allergic reaction, we had testing done, and it was confirmed that N is highly allergic to PEANUTS, NUTS & EGGS. It is not a food sensitivity but an actual severe allergy that can lead to anaphylactic shock and we have been armed with an EpiPen. (Not stating for a dramatic effect, but food allergies can be confusing…this is the more serious kind).
The anaphylactic reaction happened when S gave N a kiss on the cheek after having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He hadn’t had any visible peanut butter on his face, but there was enough trace of it to cause the reaction just by the minimal transfer to Ns cheek. In hindsight, it was a blessing it happened when and how it did because had it not, we would have eventually fed N peanut butter and the reaction would have been much worse from eating it.
I’m sure we will be seeing everyone soon but we just wanted everyone to have the correct info.
Due to the severity of his reaction, he cannot be around peanuts or any products containing peanuts. As for the other foods he is allergic to, he not only has to avoid those foods and foods that contain those ingredients, but he also needs to avoid foods that were manufactured on the same equipment or in the same facility as ingredients that contain those foods. This is not something that is required to be listed on a food label so we have to contact the manufacturer before he eats anything processed (if it comes in a box, bag, can or jar– its processed!). For this reason, we will always bring his own food for the time being.
Please remember that it’s not just what N ingests but also from transfer, so washing hands after eating when you are around him is important. Also know that when we bring food for the boys, it is not because you aren’t a great cook. 🙂
Of course, remember this just gets the information out there and gets the communication going. There will be MANY more conversations that need to take place as time goes on.
You may go through some tough times as some relatives who once voiced their support, aren’t able to put it into action as holidays, birthday parties and family gatherings roll around. My wish for you is that you have at least one person outside your partner to FULLY lean on. Someone who understands 100%. My parents, brother & sister were those people for us. The week after N had his anaphylactic reaction to peanut, my parents went through everything and threw out everything in their own home that contained peanuts or nuts. I mean everything. And to this day, nothing of the sorts ever crossed the threshold of their front door ever again. They deep cleaned their house. And deep cleaned again. Deep cleaned their cars. Over time as we added the last couple severe allergies to his list, they replaced kitchen utensils, purchased a new grill (so we never had to worry about cross-contamination from cheese on their old one) and the list goes on. They changed their daily life to match ours. Their reasoning: They wanted us to have another place, other than our own home that was completely safe; where we knew we could let our guard down and relax and know that he was safe. As we continued to learn more, they learned more with us. It absolutely warms my heart thinking about how having them behind us has helped us to find ways to make ALL of our sons’ worlds big and amazing.