Knowing Your Needs Will Help You Figure Out Your Resources
Are you the proud parent of a child with food allergies? I hope you take comfort in knowing your child has joined the ranks of 1 out of 13 kids managing food allergies, and the numbers are ever increasing.
Between the advise you receive from pediatricians, allergists, nutritionists, those who know, those who have NO clue, and all of your on-line resources, navigating through this personal journey can be overwhelming. Newborns, pre-school, elementary ages through high school… every stage is worrisome for different reasons.
From a mom who is navigating her own food allergy journey, I want to share a few small pieces of advise I offer to others traveling the same path.
KNOW YOUR NEEDS… then FIGURE OUT YOUR RESOURCES.
TOP 5 NEEDS OF ALLERGY FAMILIES
1. Networking and Support
Are you looking for something where you can learn from others and have more intimate discussions such as weekly/monthly meeting groups? Or do you prefer on-line forums and chat rooms?
Many local support groups have fantastic networks in place which offer activities and fun, especially during holiday events, such as Easter. UFAN, Utah Food Allergy Network, has a strong community network. Here in the Treasure Valley, we have TV-FAN. It is a newer group and they are looking for new families to make their support group even stronger. If you prefer to get the info from the comfort of your home, you can find many groups on Facebook catering to those with specific allergies who prefer scanning the discussion boards on their own time schedule.
2. Being Familiar with Local/National Allergy~Friendly Businesses
Start asking around, and I can guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised. Many local chain grocery stores carry a multitude of foods for those with specific dietary needs.
Rudis Gluten-Free Bakery is one the most known gluten-free companies around. Did you also know that many products in their Organic line are egg-free, nut-free and dairy-free?
Locally you can probably find a local COOP, Smoothie Shop or Pizza place which carries many of the alternative foods you need. Sun Flour Mills is one of my favorite local Boise companies catering to gluten-free needs. These products can easily be converted to being egg-free and dairy-free too.
Don’t be afraid to see ask to see ingredient lists at your local businesses. That’s how we found out that Little Caesars’ dough and sauces here locally in Boise are milk, egg and nut-free. Flatbread Neapolitan Pizzeria has NOT only gluten-free pizzas, but their regular pizza doughs and sauces are also egg, nut and dairy free.
3. Knowing what On-Line Medical/Product Options are available
Are you someone who doesn’t mind doing the research on your own, but just need a little headstart on where to begin? Check out medical resource groups such as: American Academy of Asthma and Immunology; American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics; and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Looking for on-line Product Resources? There are a TON! Check out Best Allergy Sites, American Medical ID, Allerbling, Lauren’s Hope, Allermates, Epi-Essentials and Rescue Shot Case just to name a few!
4. Recipe Options, Product Alternatives, Blogs & Websites
Cookbooks and Product resources on-line are limitless. AllRecipes, About Food Allergies.com and Google are fabulous resources. Want to eat out but don’t know where? Check out AllergyEats. Just type in ‘gluten free ‘ whatever and you will be amazed at what turns up, on both of these sites. Once you get the hang of gluten, dairy and egg alternatives, you will be able to transform ANY RECIPE!
Looking for bloggers or websites to follow? Type in ‘gluten free bloggers’, and lists will come up. The hardest part for you is going to be figuring out who you want to follow. I can’t even give suggestions here for fear of leaving out one of my favorites!
5. Creating Allergy~Friendly Toolkit for Visiting Family and Friends
Prepare Your Friends and Family so they CAN’T FAIL. Get your allergy~friendly supplies in order. Create an allergy~friendly cabinet or pantry shelf. Probably one of the easiest ways to put your caretakers and your children at ease with you gone. Load up this designated area with your allergy~friendly snacks! Mark them with color coded stickers. Get some great cookbooks and experiment with friends and family. And, don’t forget to buy some allergy books your kids will enjoy reading and sharing with their loved ones, over and over again!
So, there you have it. Five basic areas we all manage. Take the time to figure out what is your greatest NEED at this moment, and start discovering what RESOURCES are available to you! You just may be surprised how easy it will be to get your allergy arsenal in order!
Daniella Knell, is the owner of Smart Allergy~Friendly Education. Having 2 children with 6 of the top 8 allergens has driven my passion for raising allergy awareness within my own community, and anywhere else I can impact. As an allergy awareness educator and consultant, I actively present in local schools and hospitals, and offer one-on-one consulting. My personal mission is ‘to alleviate food allergy fears one classroom at a time’, while helping others, children and adults, realize all of the resources available to help them navigate the twists and turns of their food allergy journey. Follow me at: www.smartallergy.blogspot.com, Facebook, Linked In or Twitter