Stephanie Suski is a dietitian at HealthLink BC. Here she shares her experience with food allergy from the other side of the fence…as a mother. Thanks for contributing as a guest blogger Stephanie!
It’s everywhere: lurking in lunch boxes, occupying dip bowls on party tables and busting out of grocery store deli cases. That deliciously creamy garlic spread that goes with just about anything, hummus. I hate it. It’s the food that reminds me of my son’s life threatening allergy.
He was 14-months when he had his first taste of hummus and—three minutes later—his first anaphylactic reaction to sesame.
If there’s a honeymoon phase of food allergy, we’re in it. For the past few years my son has been in the same daycare facility where all meals and snacks are prepared on site and obedient preschoolers with freshly washed hands eat only what’s provided to them on sanitized tables. Yes, “la la land” has kept our four year old son safe. But school looms and if you look at any list of school lunch or snack ideas, hummus with veggies invariably tops the list. Hummus, it seems, is the new peanut butter.
In the year I have left before my son is off to kindergarten, I need to make peace with this “demon spread.” For me, calling a truce with a food allergen means knowing how to manage the risk of exposure in different environments and situations. Despite my professional training in food and nutrition, the challenge still feels overwhelming. My plan is to draw on the same resources and supports that have helped me keep my sanity so far. Family, friends and colleagues who listen without question or judgement are my lifeline. Veteran food allergy families are my heroes. By connecting with these families through Anaphylaxis Canada, I’ve learned brilliant strategies for living with food allergy through every age and stage. As a ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ kind of a person, I’ve relied heavily on the sample policies and anaphylaxis emergency plans available through Allergy Safe Communities.
Sitting on the other side of the table as a mom with a kid with food allergies, rather than as the dietitian, is much more unnerving than I could have imagined. But, I’m learning to stop obsessing over the what-ifs and instead focusing on the how-to’s.
What strategies have you used to keep your food allergic child safe at school?