Monday, November 14, 2011

Learning About Food Allergies

Later on this winter, my son will turn three. We've started having conversations with him about why we don't eat certain foods, why we don't partake in bread or cake when visiting company. It's hard to know how early is too early and how much he'll comprehend at this age.

When telling him about his food allergies, we always try to give him a reason why, keep the sentences short and easy to remember. Our conversations go something like this:

"Eggs give you the runs and a rash all over."
"Chocolate makes you angry."
"Bread or cake gives us a tummy ache."
"Nuts make you act a little nuts and gives your skin spots!"

I'm always worried I'm going to overwhelm him with the number of foods we're avoiding, but amazingly, he is storing this information away for when it is needed.

Just the other day he surprised me. I was attempting to rework an old Christmas cookie favorite - Peppernuts - when he told me he couldn't have them because he couldn't have nuts! No matter how I tried to explain that they contained no nuts - that it was just the name - he remained steadfast that he couldn't have them.

That definitely warmed my heart and eased some of my fears about his eating the wrong thing when I'm not around. Kids are smarter than we sometimes give them credit for.

I may just have to rename that cookie recipe.


beclyn said...

We are new to the food allergy living. I was diagnosed peanut, soy, corn, and tomato when I was 8 years old, but my parents decided not to change things, so I am just now starting to figure out how I can live without those things (I love corn on the cob and salsa!). My 4 year old was just diagnosed egg white and wheat and he does WONDERFULLY remembering and being careful. My 1 year old (2 next month) can't have pears or pineapple, but he just doesn't understand yet. And my 6 month old can't have corn (there is only ONE formula made that doesn't have corn in it!!) And we just got done testing my 6 year old... It is overwhelming, but we talk about it a lot. My 4 year old is learning how to read and is very interested in reading "gluten free" on things. I definitely look forward to my younger two being able to understand!!

Jo's Health Corner/ said...

Your son sounds so cute! I don't think you have to worry that he will eat things that he is allergic to if he keeps this up.

Martha said...

I was inspired to comment because your son's reaction to his allergy was so like my son's reaction to his nut allergy when he was younger - so innocent and sincere... but then I read the first comment (from beclyn) and now I'm full of so many MORE questions! How on earth did her parents "not change things"?? How did that end? My husband is deathly allergic to all fish and dairy and HIS parents were very nonchalant about the entire allergy thing too. Ah, hippies! My son is allergic to all nuts (and all trees and pollens) and we are fairly pro-active about the allergy thing. I've written about his allergies on my blog and specifically here:

what a wonderful blog! Thanks for sharing your experiences with allergies and with growing organic, local foods. Your blog is a good example of how we should all be living. I've always wondered how the genetic modification of foods is effecting our children.

Pam said...

Hi Shannon,

When you do the second ferment on water kefir you don't add the grains back in. There are still plenty of living organisms that get to work on the sugars in the fruit or juice. Let me know what you think when you give it a try.

If you have any other questions, feel free to e-mail me.

Have a great day!

Shanon Hilton said...

Hi Beclyn, My thoughts mirror Martha's about your parents and your allergies! I'm so glad you're addressing them now.

It is neat to watch kids pick up on things, like the "gluten-free"labelling. Good for you for talking so much about it in your family!

Shanon Hilton said...

Thanks Jo. :) --S

Shanon Hilton said...

Hi Martha, Thank you so much for commenting and sharing - I read your son's story. He does sound like a real trooper!

If you're interested in GMOs and the food allergy connection, check out Robyn O'Brien's, The Unhealthy Truth. Your blog says you like to read, so might enjoy this one. It's one mother's story to uncover why her children, and children everywhere, are experiencing an increase in allergies.

Shanon Hilton said...

Thank you so much Pam!

JC2 said...

I appreciate your insights on living with food allergies. I was especially interested in your comment about chocolate and anger as it seems to trigger near panic attacks and extremely obsessive thinking when I indulge and I've never heard of anyone else experiencing similar behavioral responses.

Shanon Hilton said...

Hi JC2, I haven't heard of anyone responding that way to chocolate either! But, both my son and I do react to it and my reactions are very similar to yours. I just can't eat chocolate anymore because of what it does to my mental state. Sometimes I wonder if my reactions aren't 'all in my head', so thanks for sharing your experience too. --S

The 21st Century Housewife© said...

Bless him! What a great attitude to take - I think you will need to rename that recipe. It sounds like you are giving your little one some fantastic coping strategies to deal with his allergies, as well as the questions people invariably ask about them!

Alea Milham said...

What a sweetheart! I think it makes sense to always give a reason for your your rules, whether they are food rules or another safety rule. Children want to know why and once they do they will often comply. Thank you for sharing this with the Gallery.