When Andre and I were a little over five months pregnant with our son, Jonathan, I took a trip to Chicago to visit a girlfriend. The trip was fabulous, the flight home, not so much. The plane was hot, as the air conditioning was not working. So to keep myself cool I had plenty of ice water and eventually dozed off.
About an hour into the flight I was awakened abruptly by the smell of peanuts. As soon as the woman sitting next me opened the bag, I began to feel nauseous. I couldn’t breathe and felt like I was going to faint.
I left my seat and went to the back of the plane where the flight attendants took good care of me. They kept me calm while putting cold compresses on my neck and back. Now I am not allergic to peanuts, or any other food for that matter, but it was at that moment that I decided my baby would never have peanut butter.
As it turns out my mommy instincts were correct. When Jonathan was about 15 months we had him tested for food allergies because he was always breaking out, was scratching himself constantly, sometimes breaking his skin, and suffering from horrible ezcema. The diagnosis: Our baby, now 29 months, is deathly allergic to peanuts (we have EpiPens in our cars, my purse, nana’s house, in the living room, in the bedroom .?.?.) but also has allergies to milk, wheat, soy, barley, tree nuts, shell fish and egg whites. His allergist says he will grow out of most of these allergies by the time he’s 3, except of course for the peanut.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, out of the more than 50 million Americans with some kind of allergy, approximately 3 million suffer specifically from either peanut or tree nut allergies.
When we tell people what our son is allergic to, we often get the question, “Well, what do you feed him?” There are plenty of alternatives out there for kids who suffer from allergies. Jonathan can in fact eat soy and wheat and drink regular milk with minimal to moderate reaction. Foods with egg flare up his eczema, along with milk and other dairy products, but we can treat that and keep him comfortable. We keep processed foods to a minimum. He eats fresh fruits and vegetables, meats such as chicken and ground turkey (he’s not fond of ground beef or steak). He enjoys fruit snacks and pizza is also a favorite. And we also treat him, on occasion to “nuggets and fry-fries” at McDonald’s (which uses a canola oil blend).
Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 13-19 and if you’re looking for information, recipes or even support groups for peanut or any other type of food allergy, check out The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis website at http://foodallergy.org.
Also, if you have recipe ideas and tips on how to keep your child safe or if you can remember the moment when you thought your child may have a food allergy, please share them here.