As parents, we look to support our children. It is important to us that they feel safe, loved and understood. However, if you are a parent with a child with food allergies and you yourself have never had any, you may be finding it difficult to relate to your child. Without any knowledge of the way that food allergies can affect your daily life, how could you possibly help your child through it? While every child is different, we have found some patterns among those in the food allergy community and have compiled a list of things your child may be dealing with and creative ways to help them through it.
It is only natural that children with food allergies be fearful of having an allergic reaction. For them, this is truly a matter of life or death. From a young age these children are taught that some foods are bad and dangerous, and it is only normal that they become wary. To them, any food that they do not recognize could be bad. Given this, when these children go to school and are exposed to foods that they may have never been exposed to before, they are likely to become nervous and anxious.
Keep the lines of communication open with your child. It is important that they know that food isn’t the devil. Be honest with your child about their allergy and the best ways to treat them. They should know to avoid sharing snacks and should start reading labels as young as they can, but at the same time, they should feel comfortable eating the foods you’ve packed for them. Encourage your child to educate themselves and their friends. Make sure they remember that it is important to be wary, but knowledge is power, and they do not have to feel powerless to their allergy.
Our culture is filled with food related activities. Every birthday party has cake, most teen outings end up with pizza, and snacks cover the table at almost every play date. Given this, for children with food allergies, not being able to partake in the eating can feel like social isolation. This is especially true when they end up with separate goodie bags or a cake no one likes at their own party. This may seem like a small problem, one you can’t necessarily relate to, but when food is a social experience, being different can feel like being left out.
Instead of allowing your child to focus on the negative parts of living with food allergies, urge them to see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to find new foods and recipes and a chance to embrace this unique fact about them. Push your child to teach the other kids in their class about food allergies, maybe even bring in a favorite educational book to share with the class. It is normal that children act strangely when dealing with something that they don’t understand, so make sure food allergies is something that they do understand.
Nobody likes going to the doctor, especially not children. And children with food allergies are constantly finding themselves seeing new specialists and trying new treatments. Having to go in and face their allergy on such a regular basis may quickly become a great source of anxiety for your child. Not only are they being exposed to the food that they have grown so accustomed to avoiding, but they are also in a small office surrounded by people speaking about things they might not understand.
It is only natural that as parents we try and shield our children from things that may scare them, however, it is important that we remember that our child is the one with the food allergy. If we are going to keep them from getting nervous every time they visit a doctor, it could be beneficial that they be an active part of their treatment. Additionally, by allowing them to be a part of their treatment, you may find that they become calmer in regards to their allergies as a whole. Once they understand their food allergies, it may become easier for them to face them.
Food allergies are tough. Not only can they have terrifying physical reactions, but they can also have day to day effect as well. Given this, young children may find it difficult to deal with this on a day to day basis. Our instincts push us to protect our children, but sometimes that leaves them in the dark. Children are more resilient then we give them credit for and more often than not, the best way to support them is to include them. Just like adults, children need to feel in control and understand what is going on with their bodies.
During our recent visit to Israel, we really struggled to find food for our son who has anaphylactic level allergies to egg and sesame. We approached both restaurants and hotels and were told they were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for preparing his food.
After learning about Dr. Eliana on-line, we contacted her in the hopes that she could provide a ‘normal’ restaurant experience for our family.
Both she and Shani were meticulous in their preparations with the restaurants to ensure that our son had a wonderful and safe experience.
We truly appreciate their efforts to take care of our son, and to provide us with a lovely vacation experience.
T.M., Chicago, USA
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing gift you have given us over this Pesach- the gift of having you with us!!!!
We have NEVER felt more comfortable, calm, and at ease than we did these past 10 days. Your warmth, professionalism, kindness, and care shown through in all that you did.
My children are so grateful that they were able to be with you this Pesach. You made sure that they were so well looked after and they felt so at ease and comfortable with you! You were so amazing and approachable to them! And they LOVED all the food you so amazingly prepared (supervised allergy-free food preparation, managed menus) for them!
It’s very difficult for us to trust people when it comes to our kids and allergies. You magically were able to take away ALL of our anxieties, and nervousness (and we don’t give that away so easily!!)
We can never fully thank you enough. We truly feel that you instantly became part of our family and we look forward to G-d willing being able to be with you and plan amazing trips with you many many many more times!!!!
Thank you and may Hashem bless you for the work you do. My son Jacob said your allergy card has been very helpful. I am so grateful- beyond words.
L.R., NY, NY
Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel. We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!
All the best,
S.C., New Jersey
We can't thank you enough for assembling this top-notch team of specialists to work with our daughter while she is in Israel.
T.G., Philadelphia, PA
"Food Allergy Concierge assisted us with a very helpful, detailed customized allergy card in Hebrew. The Allergy card was extremely helpful for multiple allergies and allowed us to eat safely in several eateries and hotels. Highly recommended.”
G.A. Illinois USA