Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day and Food Allergies: A Love Story and Book Giveaway!

Since it's Valentine's Day, it got me thinking about the things we do for love as food allergy parents. Sometimes the things we do are easy, like baking cookies for the class. (OK, sometimes not so easy, I'll grant you.) Or tagging along on our young child's play date, just to be sure they don't have an allergic reaction.

Other things aren't so easy. Anyone who's faced opposition about our child's allergies from the school, resistance from other parents or even family members can attest to that. It's very hard to single out your child and also single out yourself for what many people perceive as requests for "special treatment." It can also be difficult to explain our child's serious medical condition to other people without either coming across as "Debbie Downer" or as too glib. I find myself walking that tight rope constantly--I don't like to dwell on the negatives, but I have to do everything I can to make the people who care for my daughter understand how to help her stay healthy.

It's not easy to watch your child have a severe reaction, undergo uncomfortable medical tests or even be denied a sweet treat that "all the other kids are eating."

Sometimes we get angry when we're not taken seriously. Other times we doubt ourselves--are we doing too much, or not enough?

Not to get all sappy on you here, but if you are a parent who loves your child, you already have everything you need to get through the hard times of caring for a child with a severe food allergy. Love for our child is what keeps us going. A parent's love is the extra ingredient in everything we bake and do. Nothing can surpass it, so remember that the next time you're struggling, as we all do, with food allergy issues.

And speaking of love, here's some love for my wonderful blog readers, a book giveaway! Sloane Miller of the blog "Please Don't Pass the Nuts" will give away one copy of her upcoming book "Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies" to one lucky Nut-Free Mom blog reader. As an adult living with food allergies, Sloane has been a big inspiration to me as I raise my daughter. She is awesome and this book will be, too!

All you have to do to get a chance to win your copy is to post your own food allergy love story in my comments box. It can be about something you've done for your child, something someone else has done, something loving you wish for the allergic person in your life, etc. As long as it's about love and food allergies, it counts! Keep posting your stories on The Nut-Free Mom blog all week for your chance to win. Good luck!

In the meantime, give the food-allergic person in your life an extra a hug and Happy Valentine's Day!

28 comments:

Lindsay said...

Oooh, I'd love to win this book! I think I could learn a lot from Sloane, since we have something in common: we're adults living successfully with food allergies. I'd love to hear if her experience has been similar, different, or a little mix of both. So, I really hope that your random generator will draw my name. :) I don't have a profound story to share, but I'll just say that I've learned to bake as a result of my food allergies. I enjoy spreading the love of all things sweet, and safe, with my family and friends.

Nicole said...

I completely understand about walking that fine line. I remember staying at a birthday party my son was invited to even though it was a bit awkward and I could tell that the other mom thought I was just being paranoid. I hate conflict and absolutely hate being the one who must sometimes ask for accommodations for my son. But that's what a mom who loves her kid does. It's definitely stretched me to be more assertive than I ever had been before. Because I love my son I want him to feel confident and comfortable. The road will not always be easy and I'm here for him whenever it isn't. Thanks for all you do!!

Ashea said...

I really like your "Nut-Free Mom Blog", mostly because it reminds me that I'm not the only mother out there dealing with a Peanut Allergic child. My 2 year old son, Owen, is very allergic to peanuts (even the smell). Since he can not tell others about his allergy, he wears a PA ID bracelet. They even make a XS size that he's been wearing for 6 months. I've had several PA parents notice the bracelet and talk to me about different PA subjects. One time, our waitress noticed his bracelet and said that her little boy also has a severe PA, and never seen these types of stretchy band types before. She talked about how often her son has bad reactions at daycare or on playdates and how bad she wished she had one of those bracelets for him. I took off Owen's bracelet and gave it to her. They aren't that expensive and we have several. But it made her so happy, she cried. (It teared me up too, although over something so little.) It doesn't have to be Valentine's Day to show others love.

(Please enter me in the Book Giveaway if possible. Thanks)

Jenny said...

Thanks for the comments so far, keep them coming! Anyone who shares a story here is eligible to win the book!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Carrie said...

I have a 2 ½ year old daughter with a peanut allergy. My daughter ‘s best friend, and neighbor, was turning 3 and having a birthday party to celebrate. My neighbor asked me about the kinds of foods she should serve so that my daughter would be safe. I told her that I would just bring her own “safe food” and not to worry about it. (Party food scares me!) My neighbor insisted that everything she served at the party would be safe for my daughter to eat. She didn’t want her to feel left out at all! So, I showed her how to read labels and let her know what brands I trusted. She spent 2 hours at the grocery store buying party food items alone—reading labels takes a long time! Not only was all of the food at the party safe for my daughter, but my neighbor also saved all of the packaging so that I could read the labels myself. The party was very special for my daughter because she was just like all the other kids—eating the same snacks and even the same cupcakes! My neighbor loves my daughter like she is her own. She handles her food allergy better than many of our relatives.

Carrie said...

I have a 2 ½ year old daughter with a peanut allergy. My daughter ‘s best friend, and neighbor, was turning 3 and having a birthday party to celebrate. My neighbor asked me about the kinds of foods she should serve so that my daughter would be safe. I told her that I would just bring her own “safe food” and not to worry about it. (Party food scares me!) My neighbor insisted that everything she served at the party would be safe for my daughter to eat. She didn’t want her to feel left out at all! So, I showed her how to read labels and let her know what brands I trusted. She spent 2 hours at the grocery store buying party food items alone—reading labels takes a long time! Not only was all of the food at the party safe for my daughter, but my neighbor also saved all of the packaging so that I could read the labels myself. The party was very special for my daughter because she was just like all the other kids—eating the same snacks and even the same cupcakes! My neighbor loves my daughter like she is her own. She handles her food allergy better than many of our relatives.

Renata said...

You are so right! Love is all it takes. My son's allergies made me modify my lifestyle in order to take better care of him and keep him as safe as possible. Nothing we do for our kids seems too hard when we consider the alternative.
Thank you for your wonderful labor of love, Jenny.

Mary Beth said...

I have felt the "food allergy awareness love" several times recently... Last week, my best friend took my daughter with her to the gym and made a point of reminding the childcare staff that Quinlan has a severe peanut allergy - I didn't ask her to do it, she just did it. And today at her preschool Valentines Day party, I saw her teachers quietly going thru all the valentines in the corner, removing the candy (they had clearly told parents "no candy" - and the parents clearly ignored their wishes!) before the children saw it. I love that they did this rather than putting my daughter in the all-too-familiar position of seeing other kids have treats that she can not enjoy. I

I love my daughter and I'm used to jumping through hoops to make her world safe for her... But to see other people love her enough to do the same, well... That means more to me than they will ever know.

Tanya said...

I can SO relate to your post. I feel like I would just rather avoid situations than come off as the paranoid annoying mother. It is a constant struggle for me to push myself out of my comfort zone to ask others to accomodate my little girl. I feel that there is definetly a learning curve when it comes to explaining my daughter's allergies and trying to educate at the same time. My daughter brought home her Valentine's from preschool and of course there were at least 10 candies she couldn't eat. I told my 8 1/2 year old son that we could put them to the side for him, but he said "No -- our house is her safe area, I will just throw them in the trash. It isn't worth the risk Mom!". I can't even begin to tell you how proud I was!!

Elaine said...

My peanut (and soy) allergy loved one is my husband of a year and a half. It's been a big adjustment learning to read labels carefully, and worst of all, to give up peanut butter! It's hard to beat that craving, but I was determined not to bring anything into the house that he couldn't eat. After a lot of research I discovered a fake peanut butter made from sunflower seeds and have been satisfying my craving with that ever since! It was perfect for the many cookie recipes I brought with me too.

Sara Gooley said...

Ever since the dreaded RAST test came back positive for peanuts for my daughter, Madeline, at 18 months old, I knew our lives had changed dramatically! Walking the fine line between assertive/concerned mother and helicopter parent is amazingly difficult. We' ve truly been lucky to have family help daily with daycare while my husband & I work. Luckily we had a close eye on everything that went in her mouth there.
For preschool we choose a cooperative preschool that we could be directly involved in the policy & procedure making. Being so involved with these parents and becoming a member of the preschool board was key. Our daughter had a safe place for those few years. The teacher, and the parents that worked in the classroom, along with our family & close friends that have especially helped us since her PA diagnosis have been our "village." They have helped us prepare her for the real world of kindergarten, camps, or birthday parties. They have helped her and me gain the confidence needed to assert myself for her and for her to ask about the ingredients in any item, at just 5 years old. She is already a self - advocate. I couldn't be more proud of her and have more love for the people that help keep her safe everyday!

Kim said...

Since we found out our daughter had a life-threatening food allergy 4 years ago, we have drastically altered our eating habits, especially when it comes to dining out. In essence, we really don't dine out. It just never seemed worth the risk. In addition, vacations were challenging. We tried to stay at places that had full kitchens to allow us to cook all our meals.

So, when we planned our first trip to Disney, we were seriously worried about being so far from home and staying some place without a stove. Well, we found that Disney does a great job with food allergies. When you go to a sit-down restaurant, a chef comes to your table to discuss safe options. The best part is that your child does not feel excluded.

At one restaurant, the desserts on the menu were not safe, so the chef brought my daughter something special from the back and told her she got it because she was a special princess. She felt so wonderful and for the first time ever, we could relax at a restaurant. It was so great to see her excited about receiving something special because of her allergy rather than feeling left out.

Heidi said...

We too, have had some wonderful experiences from people who go out of their way to care. I had one mom from my son's preschool call and ask me for a peanut and egg-free recipe for cupcakes that she could make as her daughter's treat so Ben could be included (normally I send in his own cupcakes). She had no problem that they were from scratch... and this was all because her 4-yr old daughter wanted my son to be able to share in her treat :) Love hearing all the great stories about people that go the extra mile.

Mike said...

Oh, how I loved nuts. They're delicious, they're nutritious, they add flavor and texture to so many different kinds of foods. I used to eat nuts in cereals, in cakes, in pies, or just raw out of the shell. I dropped all that without a second thought when my daughter was diagnosed with her allergy. Her first (and only) anaphylactic reaction was so extreme, so terrifying, it changed our lives. We carry her Epis and Benadryl everywhere she goes. We educate other parents, teachers, anyone who'll be watching over her or responsible for her so they know how to keep her safe. We check ingredient labels, do research, make phone calls, whatever it takes. She's been nut free for almost ten years now - totally healthy, very happy, our beautiful girl.

Jackie said...

I am so excited to have found this blog. I have a 3 year old daughter with a severe PA. She loves to play with her friends and always loves birthday parties :). We have two amazing friends that both stopped buying birthday cakes and only make and serve food that my daughter can eat. I know how much extra effort it is to be sure that she can have the same as everyone else. I am always amazed by thier love for my daughter and how they act like it is no problem at all. We are blessed to have such great friends.
Jackie

Angie said...

Love and Allergies go hand and hand in our family. I have severe food allergies, not just to nuts. We have an 8 month old little boy, and we are praying that he does not get any of my allergies. But, until we find out for sure, we spend our days reading label after label. Making sure what we are feeding our son is completely safe. It has now become second nature. Our family is super supportive as they have had to deal with cooking meals and buying special treats for me. I wish all companies would come out with more peanut/nut free food choices. Until then, we will just be creative with what we chose and make for the ones with the food allergies. It's not so bad after all, putting the extra time into making things shows our true love for each other!

Anonymous said...

simply by living her life, my daughter (who happens to be peanut allergic) has taught me how to live mine. by watching and loving her, i have learned how to live; corageous and real.

Jenny said...

Please don't post your stories as Anonymous--I won't be able to identify you if you win!

Thanks! I'm sure it's an oversight. :)

Donna said...

I'd love to be included in the book giveaway. I'm so happy to have found your blog. As the mom of a little girl who just recently was diagnosed with PA, I've found a lot of great information here so far. We still have a long way to go with learning to manage her PA, but it helps to hear how others manage school and other activities while keeping their little ones safe. It seems that we have a tough road ahead, but our little girl is so very loved that we will do anything and everything to keep our sweet girl safe. Thank you for creating this blog!!!!

Jenny said...

Thanks for all the stories, everyone! They are really heartwarming. You have until tomorrow, so keep them coming!

Donna, I feel the same way as you and always have: I will do anything to keep our precious girl safe and healthy. When you love your kids so much, you don't ever mind going the extra mile.

Christi Cook said...

My son (age 4) is allergic to tree nuts and my daughter's (age 7) favorite toy was a stuffed animal filled with crushed walnut shell. She gave up her favorite toy, so that it wouldn't bother him. Then she decided to buy fabric and make little pillows instead with him, so that they would have twin pillows to remind them that is how much they love each other.

Anonymous said...

For the love of my peanut & tree nut allergic daughter, in the last week alone, I have created an educational article to be published in our church newsletter this coming month in order to share with other families what's "At the Heart of the Matter" in regard to peanut & tree nut allergies. The article helps shed some light on the life-threatening nature of food allergies that we parents of a food allergic child want them to know as they week after week bring foods my daughter cannot eat. Second, I created a mini-poster for their kitchen to remind volunteers of doing a "food check" before they put food out on the table. The poster lists the foods that possibly contains nuts and a brief of cross contact issues. Finally, I spoke with the new cafeteria head about whether she checks the food she orders from her vendors... which she had never considered. So, I sent her a copy of the mini-poster and thanked her for caring about my daughter. I love my daughter! I do not want or expect the world to change for her, but I sure would like some help in keeping her safe!

Karen said...

The first Christmas after my 14 month old had her first reaction to peanuts was extremely difficult. Family members still were not very accepting of her allergy, brushing it off as not being very serious. Some even insisted that the traditional Christmas salad still have almonds in it even though we were told to avoid other nuts as well. It's been over 2 years since then and all of our family is extremely supportive of our now 3 year old. It's amazing to see how they go out of their way to make sure she's safe when she's over at their houses, at holidays and anytime! Their love and support mean so much to us and I can always count on them to think about reading labels and calling companies, etc. It takes time and a lot of learning to know what it means to be "nut/peanut free" and they have really come a long way!

Kristin said...

I once snuck chopped walnuts into everything my boys ate, thinking it was an extra boost of nutrition. Then my youngest had a very scary reaction and we discovered his allergy to tree nuts. Now, I am the mom who won't let my 4 year-old sit next to yours at the table because I don't know what you'll be eating. I carry wipes with me everywhere, in an attempt to clean tables and chairs before he sits down. I give you the evil eye when you pop some food in your mouth while we're together. I am that mom because I need to be that mom.

E. Jones said...

My son was diagnosed at 20 months with a peanut allergy and my husband and I were completely devastated. It's very easy to feel sorry for yourself initially and say why me? Now, almost 2 years later, we have learned to say why not me? I have to believe that there is a reason that our children (now little brother with egg allergy) and family were chosen to face these challenges together. As a result of their allergies our kids will grow up with greater awareness, compassion and the ability to face/deal with adversity. What a blessing to have my boys in my life - allergies or not.

Stacey said...

My 4 year old son has food allergies to wheat, eggs, soy and tree nuts. We found out 2 years ago. He has been a blessing in disguise. Because of him, I went back to school,I attended The Institute for Intergrative Nutrition in NYC and became a holistic health coach! I have learned so much about our food system. I thank him every day for opening my eyes, we are so much healthier and happier knowing what we do. There is a silver lining behing every cloud!

lizbit024 said...

this is my love story: first I'll introduce my family's background. I have two kids my oldest is four and is allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, cinnamon, and (thankfully) and grew an egg allergy. My son who is four has a milk allergy. It has been a battle getting my family to host "safe parties" we are all on board now! My love story is about my daughter and her cousin who is four years older than her. We were at to his birthday party last year when he introduced my daughter and annouced "she has a bunch of food allergies, don't feed her anything or she'll die". Although it was a pretty dramactic intro I was very moved by this seven year olds awareness and concern. Every family gathering he asks me if she's still allergic and says " I'll watch out for her." Anyway I love him for doing that and I hope you enjoyed our love story.

gifts to pakistan said...

Valentine's Day and Food Allergies.we should not bake the things which can create allergy on valentine day.