Hello There Blogosphere,
My name is Steven Yannicelli (Dr. Y) and the word “blogosphere” is relatively new to my vocabulary. But, thanks to a little nudging by my friends and colleagues, here I am writing my very first blog.
Why? Well, after many years as a registered dietitian specializing in pediatrics, a research scientist, and now director of science and education for a nutrition company, I’ve amassed some knowledge on food allergies and related digestive conditions in babies and kids. These allergies seem to be taking the world by storm – the number of kids affected just keeps growing and growing. And there seems to be an awful lot of parents out there in the blogosphere looking for info. So, here I am.
November is a great time to start a food allergy blog. We’ve just survived Halloween – my favorite holiday, but a major challenge for families with children with allergies and other digestive conditions. And we’re closing in on Thanksgiving – the great American celebration of gluttony.
Growing up in the Bronx, Thanksgiving was a blast. We ate, we watched the Giants, we ate some more, my mother yelled at my father to turn the TV down, we ate even more…you get the picture. The bird at the center of the table was a beast and there was so much gravy, we could have used it to slip-n-slide down Castle Hill.
Since my wife and I want our kids’ arteries to last them a while, we try to have a little more healthful Thanksgiving now. Still, it’s a wonderful day of feast and football. But how do you make Thanksgiving fun for the entire family when you have a child with a food allergy?
First, let’s talk about the school activities:
1) If your child’s school is having a special Thanksgiving meal, get on the planning committee to make sure that there are at least a few “safe” food for your child on the menu. Replace the foods your child can’t eat, with a “safe” dish you can bring to school that day. It’s always best to be positive and look at what your child “can eat” rather than what he or she “can’t eat”.
2) Encourage your child’s teachers and administrators to put more focus on giving thanks and less on pigging out. (Not a bad lesson for any kid.) Help them plan a volunteer activity, collect canned goods and blankets for a charity, etc.
3) Thanksgiving art projects are great, but make sure they don’t involve dangerous products (i.e. egg-based paint or wheat-based modeling clay).
Now, for the family celebrations:
1) Move the focus of Thanksgiving Day from meal-time to family-time. Embrace your inner-Kennedy and play some football in the back yard. Take a walk together or play some board games. If you’re Super-Mom or Super-Dad, you could even create your own Thanksgiving board game.
2) Check out your local book store for some food allergy cookbooks. Many of them have great recipes for the Turkey Day table that are safe for everybody to eat.
3) If you’re traveling to Grandma’s or Aunt Sally’s, offer to help them make a “safe” dish and bring whatever else your child needs along for the trip.
So, these are a few of my tips. What about yours? What are you doing to make Thanksgiving fun for everyone? And how about those food allergy cook books – any favorites? I’d love to hear from you.
Come back again where we will be talking about managing a special diet during the other holidays!! Until then
– Dr. Y