Friday, August 31, 2012

Peanuts: The Party Crasher - Part 2


This is the second in a two-part series by Brandi Yee - wife, blogger at Yee Wittle Things and Mom of two, one of which has a severe peanut allergy.

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Continued from Part One

Be Informed

Stay up to date on recalls and allergy-related news. I receive email updates from Anaphylaxis Canada to stay on top of peanut allergy recalls. Inform family members and friends. It's not only extremely important that parents are aware and prepared for any allergy-related emergencies, but it's also extremely important that family members and friends are aware as well and know how to look out for allergens in their homes when having you and your children over. It's important for them to read labels when serving or preparing foods and to make sure that counters, tables and hands are sanitized and washed after using anything that contains the allergen. We have awesome family, and they've all been fabulous at making sure their homes are safe environments for when we come over. You want your child to feel safe not only in your own home, but in close family and friend's homes as well as much as possible.

ALWAYS Ask

It doesn't matter if you sound like a broken record, ALWAYS ask what is in something before consuming. I'm sure I've drove family and friends nuts at times, by constantly asking what is in the food they've cooked or baked, but they are more than happy to tell me the ingredients to put my mind at ease and there's been a couple times that ingredients that were thought to be innocent, contained traces of what we didn't want - peanuts. Don't be afraid to ask questions or politely decline food if hesitant. Do what's best for you and your family and make decisions based on what you feel is safe or not safe.

Party Planning

This was actually one of the more stressful moments for me after my daughter was first diagnosed. She was going to go to a party and I was a bundle of nerves. I made sure to constantly remind others of her peanut allergy and be aware of ingredients and what was being served. Once again, ALWAYS ask questions. Parties aren't hard for me to plan, because I know what's going in everything. Actually, everything is pretty much homemade, such as the cake, for this reason. What I love about making everything myself, is that I know exactly what is in it, and that winds up being a healthier choice for the whole family. There's great party foods that are peanut-free and it's a great feeling to know you've made a cake that is safe for everyone to eat, especially your child. If a cake is being served at another party that you're not sure about, you can always send something separate for your child to enjoy, so he or she isn't left out. I've had to send cupcakes before when there's been "may contain traces..." warnings on ingredients used in cakes at parties she's been invited to. As long as everyone is aware of who they're inviting, most people don't mind accommodating, and if it's an issue, they just know not to invite that child (which seems sad I know, but true). I haven't encountered that as of yet, and am very lucky that most people are more than willing to make things safe and enjoyable for everyone. As long as everyone is aware, parties can still be just as fun and safe.

Educate

It's important to start educating your child early on about his/her allergies. My daughter is still too young to fully grasp why she can't have peanuts, other than that she knows they can make her really, really sick. But I certainly could not rely on her to say "no" if she was offered something containing them or ask questions about what she's about to eat. So for now, we do our best to educate her by showing her how we ask, how we read  labels, avoid peanuts and there's even books that you can read to your kids about their allergies that are very useful! As she gets older, she'll learn how to use her Epipen, ask all those questions and be aware. There's many useful resources for teaching yourself and your children about allergies and anaphylaxis.

I could ramble on and on about ways to cope or strategies to help ease the stress of dealing with severe allergies, but in truth, each family is different. I know families with similar allergies that deal with it in the same way as us, but I also know families who deal with it in completely different ways that work for them. The common denominator is keeping your child safe. It's all about finding your comfort zone and structuring your family in such a way that everyone is aware of what's going on and how to deal with it. The best thing I learned early on, was to take things day by day. Don't rack your mind about the future or what "could happen" and be in fear. Do the best you can, take precautions and focus on each day as it comes.
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Many thanks to Brandi for sharing her story and experience. Have a question? Leave a comment!

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1 comment:

Theresa said...

This is such a wonderful and informative post! I can imagine how stressful it must be, especially when parties and such roll around. Glad you have such an informed and supportive family to help ease the fears a little!