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Talking to Your Child About Food Allergies

Food allergies are a very real part of our lives. Whether it is you, your child, a friend or family member, countless people deal with them on a day-to-day basis. Given this, providing your child with knowledge on this life-threatening reality is vital. However, explaining to your child why they are no longer able eat their favorite food or have their favorite cake at their birthday party, is never an easy conversation. That is why we must always remember the importance of open communication. Most children are more mature than we give them credit for and are eager to understand and to help. That is why, when it comes to food allergies, clear communication is the best option.

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Start Young and Start Simple

If food allergies are a part of the child’s life from an early age, then that should not be hidden from them. While there is no need to pile on the responsibility of an EpiPen or the severity of an anaphylaxis attack, the conversation in the home should be open. In the beginning – especially with younger children – focus on using smaller words like ‘safe’ and ‘clean’. By speaking to the child in a language they can understand you are more likely to get the message across effectively. Additionally, focus on the difference between the foods that are safe and those that aren’t so that they are able to recognize the difference between them while also learning about all the wonderful treats that are completely allergy free.

Create a Community

For children with food allergies, the restrictions can often feel isolating. Whether this is because of the events that they have had to sit out of, or the parties that they’ve had to avoid, allergies can leave children feeling out of place. Given this, when speaking to your child about their food allergies, it can be a good idea to introduce them to other children and families dealing with the same things. By creating a community for your child, you are able to get your message across without them feeling different or isolated.

Help Your Child Educate Others

In order to keep your child from feeling alone, help them make friends by teaching them to educate others. For many children, food allergies are a complete mystery – something they simply don’t understand. By speaking to your child about what to say to their friends about their food allergies, you are providing them with the voice they need to stay safe. Teach your child to be firm and educational with their friends, allowing them to grow comfortable with their allergies while also starting a conversation amongst their friends.

Stay Calm to Stay Safe

Having life threatening food allergies can be terrifying. Whether it is you, your child, or just a friend, the fear surrounding anaphylactic attacks are very real. However, when it comes to teaching your child about food allergies, it is smart to stay calm. Children very often learn from example, meaning that there are many times that our children are observing us without us even knowing it. Given this, if you allow your anxiety to get the best of you, your child will begin to associate food allergies with fear. It may be difficult, but in order to get the clearest message across to your child, you need to stay calm.

Show Don’t Tell

As parents, it is all too easy to take control of our children’s lives. However, when it comes to food allergies, this obsession to control can become terrifying. As our children grow and begin to lead independent lives, it becomes increasingly more difficult to control them – forcing us to trust their judgement. Given this, when raising a child with food allergies it is vital that they be shown how to check for safe foods from an early age. It is not enough to simply tell them they are allergic to something you must also show them where and how to look through the ingredients and allergen information.

Make it Fun

Talking about food allergies can quickly become a serious conversation, something that most children are not too interested in. Given this, in order to ensure that you are getting the message across and keeping your child focused it may be a good idea to try and make these conversations fun. By integrating books, games, drawing, and other activities into the conversation, your child is much more likely to stay focused and on topic. While food allergies are in no way a joking matter, we need to remember that children are still just children.

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Conclusion

In the past few decades more and more children are beginning to be diagnosed with different food allergies. Today, these life-threatening allergies are affecting huge percentages of our communities, making it increasingly important for there to be open conversations on the subject. When it comes to speaking to children about food allergies, many parents struggle with how best to broach the difficult topic. At the end of the day, each child will need to be addressed in the manner that best suits them, but by following these few tips the conversations may go a little bit smoother.

Sources

Pregnancy and Food Allergies
Food Allergies on a Budget
 

What Our Clients Say

Meticulous in their preparations

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

Comfortable, calm, and at ease

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!!!! 

CO, Canada
April 2016

Very Helpful

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.

Yasher Koach!
L.R., NY, NY

Delicious and Safe

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

Thank You

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

The Allergy Card was Extremely Helpful

"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

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