Over the last decade, food allergies in children have increased at a rapid rate. Whether a child has a mild intolerance or a life-threatening allergy, living with food allergies can be a challenge. The most common allergens among kids are peanut, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, and gluten, which can be difficult to avoid. We’ve gathered a few tips to help talk to your kids about dealing with their food allergies.
1. Educate, but Don’t Terrify
While it’s incredibly important for your child to understand the importance and severity of their allergy, they don’t need to live in fear. Avoid terms such as “deadly” or “life-threatening” for younger kids. Explain to them that they will get “very sick”, or if they have had a reaction before, remind them of the symptoms.
2. Focus on what they can eat
It may be difficult for your child at birthday parties or a friend’s house when they can’t eat the delicious-looking chocolate cake due to an egg allergy. However, instead of focusing on what foods to exclude, focus on treats they are able to enjoy.
3. Educate Others
When your child starts a new school, goes to a new friend’s house, or gets a new babysitter, be sure to educate the adult in charge about your little ones’ allergies. Explain the severity of the allergy, give them a brief summary of foods to avoid and foods to enjoy, and explain the treatment process in the event that a reaction occurs.
4. Make it a Team Effort
It’s easier to cut a food out of your diet if you’re not alone! If your child is allergic to peanuts, you may consider avoiding peanuts altogether as a family. If your child is allergic to gluten, make an effort to substitute other grains in your diet. This may seem like a big sacrifice, but you may just end up healthier!
5. Teach Kids to Spot the Sneaky Ones
Have your kids check labels with you at the grocery store to ensure there are no sneaky allergens hiding in seemingly harmless foods. Teach them the alternate names of allergens, and other ingredients that may contain allergens.
Living with food allergies as a kid can be difficult, but it’s not impossible! If you think your child has a food allergy, get them tested by a physician. Do you have any tips for making life with food allergies easier? Let us know!