Hey guys! I’m going to talk a little in today’s post about life with a child who has food allergies. I’m speaking as a dietitian, but also as a mom who’s little one has a diagnosed allergy to milk and is preparing to be re-tested because of some other recent reactions to food. We carry an epi-pen wherever we go- side pocket of the diaper bag.
After our guy was diagnosed, I decided to pursue a Certificate of Training in food allergies and intolerances from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I wanted to soak up as much knowledge about the subject as I could. I wanted to be able to put my nutrition credentials to work, not only on my son’s behalf, but also on behalf of other families who are struggling to understand how to manage life with food allergies.
Understatement time: food allergies are a real bummer. (I know…right?) For some, they can be extremely frightening and for others just an annoyance, but regardless they require painstaking attention and vigilance. Label reading becomes a way of life. Cooking sans-allergen becomes a challenge. Restaurants are a source of stress. Food becomes a major focus as we send our kids to school, social events, or birthday parties.
One thing I was unprepared for what the impact that our son’s food allergies would have on our extended family. My husband’s family is Czech, so dishes like Chicken Paprikash, containing sour cream (A.K.A. milk), are dear to them. His dad is from Chicago and we would spend long nights slaving over cheesy Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas from scratch. My family, being from the south, loves creamy casserole dishes at holiday meals. My grandmama’s pound cake is delicious but also loaded with milk and butter. It has taken us all some time (and some mourning) to realize that it may be a while before our son will enjoy these traditions with us, if he ever is able to at all. Thankfully our family members have all been amazing at finding foods we can all enjoy together.
For me, the challenge has been learning to kindly and respectfully voice our needs to other people. We attend a lot of dinners at friends’ houses, and we live in Charleston, home to some of the best restaurants in the Southeast. I often feel bad asking and re-asking about ingredients, or bringing our own food for little man to eat. I don’t want to make a scene.
But here’s the thing, families: by asserting our needs, we are doing what’s best for our loved ones. My little one isn’t broken just because he can’t eat cheese. He’s an amazing kid, who brings so much joy to us. I want him to live in THAT identity and not feel as if he has done something wrong or is a burden. Yes, allergies are a part of our daily life, and yes, I have to ask a lot of questions at a restaurant. But he is worth it. And by modeling a respectful assertiveness, I’m teaching him how to protect himself in the coming years. Tomorrow I will be sharing with you some tips that I have learned and/or that I am implementing to help in the management of my child’s allergies. So check back soon for Part 2!
My name is Emily Funcik, and I am a registered and licensed dietitian in Charleston, SC. I am also a stay-at-home mama, a wife, a foodie, and a dancer. I have a passion for healthy living, entertaining, and a deep-rooted loved of all things delicious.
|Emily Funcik Nutrition||
Emily Funcik Nutrition