When your child is diagnosed with a food allergy, it can be overwhelming. Children often do not understand why they cannot enjoy certain foods and sometimes lack the words to be able to explain what is wrong – but there are things you can do to make the process easier. Here are the three secrets to helping your child with food allergies and how to avoid them.
1. Explain Food Allergies
Start by explaining food allergies. Explaining that a food is unsafe or could make someone sick is a good start, but the subject can be very confusing for children. Instead, talk to your child about what food allergies are. The Be A PAL: Protect A Life format can be helpful. It is geared towards children and explains allergies in a way that kids can easily understand. PAL explores the ways that different people may need to eat because of food allergies and offers tips to help you explain food allergies better.
2. Plan Ahead
When your child has food allergies, you always need to plan ahead. Take time to look at food labels, even on foods that may not appear to contain the offending food. For example, many pre-basted turkeys contain common allergens like dairy, soy or wheat. You will also need to look at your food prep. When you use the same utensils to handle different foods, you could expose your child to trace amounts of the food to which they are allergic. This is called cross-contamination and could cause a reaction if your child is very sensitive.
If your child is going to be eating food prepared by another person, you will want to make sure that he or she understands the importance of careful planning. To avoid the issue altogether, you could bring special food for your child to eliminate risk.
3. Involve your Child in the Allergy Treatment Plan
Food allergies can sometimes be avoided through immunotherapy or allergy shots, but until that treatment is effective, your child will need to have an allergy treatment plan in place. Involving your child in the process will help him or her manage the food allergy better. One way to do this is to let your little one help in grocery shopping and food selection. You can teach your child about food ingredient lists and help him or her select the right foods.
If your child has food allergies or you suspect he or she may be developing sensitivities to certain foods, contact the Arkansas Allergy and Asthma Clinic today at 501-227-5210. We offer food allergy tests and allergy shots in Little Rock and Conway, Arkansas.