It is pretty obvious raising a child with food allergies is no easy task. It takes lots of preparing and research to get the management down. But another area that is hard to control is when your child is at school/daycare or at a friend’s house. You have to make sure your child doesn’t drink the milk, or eat the allergen filled cookies. In this article written by a Registered Dietitian, it looks at the fact that parents with kids with food allergies must rely on the “villagers” in their community to help best manage the food allergy. As we know, many families dealing with food allergies find supportive communities online through Facebook and online support groups. What about the friends across the street or those in your child’s class? Even for families unknowledgeable about food allergies must make the effort to ensure a food allergic child is in an allergen safe environment at all times. This article guides “non-food allergy” families on how to best manage food allergies.
The article first emphasizes to take food allergies seriously. It is important for non-food allergy families to understand that these requests are not “food preferences” but a medical necessity. As most may know, food allergy reactions could be extremely serious. Every three minutes, someone goes into the ER for food-related reactions.
Another point made is to encourage sharing….of toys, not food! It’s best to educate and encourage children to not share food unless the caregiver of the food allergic child gives the ok. More and more, communities are being more responsible during classroom parties by providing tokens such as stickers or coloring books instead of cupcakes or cookies. Not only will this reduce the amount of high calorie/nutrient-void sweets the children will get, but it will encourage more intellectually enriching items to be given out as party gifts.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, is to educate the community. In a recent study, researchers suggest 33% of kids with food allergies have been bullied because of their allergy. Even though any form of bullying could leave deep emotional scars, the type of bulling seen in children with food allergies can take a more serious turn. The more educated the community is, the better support we can all be to ensure the environment will be a safe one for our food allergic “villagers”.
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