I never thought food allergy could be that serious, life-threatening in particular. How can I protect my son in a world that lacks awareness on the seriousness of food allergy?

I’ve learnt few lessons so far (and I’m sure a lot to learn down the road),

1* NEVER judge a mother who is being over protective with her kids. Don’t judge a mother who is constantly wiping surfaces (OCD? Yes she has to be). Don’t judge a mother who refuses snacks for her child. Don’t judge a mother who doesn’t allow people to touch her child. Don’t judge a mother who doesn’t allow her child to just sit there and play while she hangs out with her friends and enjoys her cup of coffee … and the list can go on. Basically, never judge the way a mother is behaving with her child; you don’t know the reasons behind her actions. People will think you are overdoing it! SO WHAT? It’s your child’s LIFE at risk!

2* Don’t let your child’s food allergy restrict you from any outing. I used to feel unsafe wherever we go. I used to fear someone contaminated with his allergen might touch him. I used to fear that he may pick up something that he shouldn’t and place it in his mouth. “Fear, fear, fear” was haunting me all day! I realized one day that this fear would negatively impact his personality and will affect me both physically and mentally. It’s OKAY to be over protective but it is NOT OKAY to live in fear. I decided to let go of the fear and just be on the watch out 24/7. I have to be cautious and protective to protect my son but that should not stop us from going out and enjoying life’s daily pleasures.

3* Talk to your family/friends about your child’s food allergy; explain to them its seriousness and consequences. Make sure they understand what food allergy is, show them the epipen and explain to them that you carry it with you ALL the time. Always remind them of your child’s food allergy and mention his allergens, they may forget! Also, don’t be shy to ask them to keep your child’s allergens aside when around them. Let them know whatever makes you comfortable; remember it’s your child’s life at risk.

4* Be around friends that understand your child’s allergy; this will create a comfortable environment for you. You need friends that make you feel at ease when your kids meet. You don’t want a friend who feeds her child sesame around your kid when your kid is allergic to sesame. I recently baked an allergy-friendly chocolate cake that my son loves and took it to my friend’s house. It was so heart-warming when our sons cut the cake and ate it together. What made me even happier is the fact that her son LOVED the cake and so did she!

5* Always be prepared for an emergency. Don’t ever say, “nothing will happen”. Cross-contamination is everywhere and accidents happen. The question is “when will it happen?” rather than “will it happen?” Just be well prepared. Always remember to keep your child’s medical pack with you (which of course should always have 2 epipens).

6* Plan ahead! It’s always great when you plan your child’s meals ahead of time and always cook in bulk and freeze for later use! It saves you time, energy and if an unexpected outing comes up, you CAN go without worrying about the food factor. I always keep snacks in the freezer (orange muffins, chocolate cake, banana donuts), and 1-2 meals that he likes.

His food allergies are always on my mind. Being an allergy mom is hard and stressful, more than I ever imagined but there are ways to cope with it and day by day it will get easier and won’t be a major struggle.

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