All of a sudden, I had a child diagnosed with a mild milk allergy and a severe peanut allergy. It was a lot to take in. The allergist gave me articles and resources to help me understand what all of this meant.
After the diagnosis, the allergist wrote a prescription for Penny. Now we need to carry, at all times, Benadryl and 2 EpiPens. Before we left the Dr.’s office, she taught me, with a trainer device, how to use an EpiPen and explained when to use it. We got the medication at the pharmacy and headed home.
As soon as I got home, I remember putting Penny down for a nap and walking straight to the kitchen. I decided we were not going to risk anything, so I went through all of our food and gave away or discarded anything that contained dairy, peanuts and tree nuts. I felt lost. There were a lot of things we were not going to be able to eat now.
After the kitchen “raid” it was time for me to head to the supermarket to find allergy-friendly products. It took me around three hours to do grocery shopping, a “task” that usually takes one hour to complete. I read every single label of every single product that I bought that day. Not only was I looking for the words milk, peanuts & tree nuts, I was also looking for those ingredients (with different names) that mean the same thing as containing milk, peanuts & tree nuts. Also, I had to make sure that the product didn’t have the words: processed in a facility that processes [insert allergen]. The end result, an allergy-free pantry & kitchen.
That afternoon, after Paulo came home from school, we sat down with him and explained Penny’s diagnosis. He took it as well as a 5-year-old would take it and told us that he was willing to give up the allergens in order to keep Penny safe. Up to this day, you can still see surprise in his face every time he, unknowingly, asks for something that contains the allergen and we explain to him that it’s a product we can’t have at home. However, as we have discovered delicious, allergy-friendly products, eating has become easier. We certainly are eating more fruits and veggies, and I would say that we have healthier eating habits thanks to food allergies (not everything has to be negative).
It has taken a lot of learning and patience to understand what we can and cannot eat. I still read the labels of the products that we eat on a regular basis because, sometimes, ingredients change. And when I have any doubt about any product ingredient, I just contact the manufacturer. Feel free to do the same!
The important thing here is to keep my child safe!
Food Allergy Research & Education (F.A.R.E.) has information on “Tips to Avoid your Allergen”. This list was extremely helpful for us. To find it, visit: