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  • 4/3/2012

More than a Nuisance: Managing Your Child's Food Allergies

part 2

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Tips for Caregivers

Whether it’s Grandma or a sitter, everyone who will care for your child must be educated about the seriousness of your child’s food allergy. Set up a time before your sitter starts working to review your allergy management plan in person.

“Be very clear about what the allergy is and what foods contain those allergens,”‌ said Kelly Bailey, a registered dietician in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Educate the caregiver on which symptoms to look for, such as changes in breathing, hives and vomiting, she noted.

In case of an accidental ingestion, the caregiver needs to know how to administer the EpiPen or any other doctor-prescribed emergency treatments. Caretakers should be instructed to call 911 in the case of an emergency, and also have all pertinent doctors' phone numbers at their disposal on one clearly marked, simple-to-read index card.


Communicating with Schools and Beyond

As your child gets older, the allergy management skills learned at home must be extended to school and social activities with peers. Many states and school districts now have guidelines on food allergy management in schools. Parents must still take the lead to inform the school personnel about their child’s allergy prevention, notifying the school administration, the school nurse and the child’s teacher.

“You have to teach your child to not share or accept food another child gives them. They can only eat what Mom and Dad provide for them,”‌ Bailey said.

Food celebrations are common in classrooms, with parents sending cupcakes to celebrate birthdays or holidays. With more children having food allergies, prevention becomes an issue for the entire class. More day-care centers and schools are now banning certain food items.

Bailey recommends teachers send a letter home to parents informing them of the allergies children have and requesting that they send safe snacks such as pudding or fruit.

If a child is involved in sports, the same rules of prevention and preparedness apply. “They can bring their own snacks and medicine, and the coach must be fully aware,”‌ said registered dietician Mary Ellen Caldwell of Dallas, Texas.

While the allergy management strategies learned at home will give your child the skills he needs to feel safe wherever he is, there may be moments when your child feels different. “Encourage your child to share their feelings if they feel bad or frustrated,”‌ Pistiner said.


Eating Out

Although it requires some advance planning, finding a restaurant that can accommodate your food-allergic child, and providing a pleasant dining experience for all, is becoming easier. Restaurants are increasingly responding to growing concerns about food allergies and are training their staff and including allergy information on menus.

Parents should call in advance of their visit and speak to a manager with their concerns. It’s also best to visit a restaurant at non-peak hours so you can get more attention. And make sure to bring an EpiPen as well as all other prescribed emergency medications.

As for what to order? “Keeping it simple is best,”‌ recommended Pistiner. "Avoid sauces, fried foods and combination dishes." He added: “If there is any doubt that a safe meal can be served, then politely leaving is the best and only thing to do."

Other Links:

What Are the Health Benefits of Broccoli?

What are Health Benefits of Eating Beets?

The Mysterious Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Five Reasons to eat Cauliflowers

The Importance of Eating Celery

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