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Thoughts from a Food Allergic Child’s Mom in the Peanut State.

I spoke with my sister in Charlotte, NC and was surprised to hear that her school system has been strict with food allergies and labeling with what gets brought to school for almost six years. They serve Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches and if you bring in any snacks, it has to have the store label on it. No big deal but it can save a life.

In GA, however, it is an entirely different story. My daughter has an egg and peanut allergy and I was voicing my concerns to my sister over our schools in GA still serving peanut butter and allowing any snack foods (homemade or store bought) to be brought in to classroom parties and for the daily class snack.

And then it hit me. Tonight I saw a peanut commercial for the peanut industry in Georgia. I connected the political and economical connections between the state and the peanut industry and my heart sank. We will never have the same understanding in our schools as long as the peanut industry and lobbyists have a say in this state.

How heartbreaking is it to realize that I have an uphill battle? It’s more than having a peanut free table in the cafeteria. I mean, you still serve peanut butter on the menu so how will you protect a food allergic child from being exposed when kids can wipe it on a chair or table? Who checks to see that their hands are clean? And what about all the classroom parties and daily snacks where parents bring in anything?

I have more regulations with my daughter’s daycare at Primrose School (thankfully) and now I am considering keeping her there for private kindergarten. It is a battle that I hope most parents do not face. It has implications that go far beyond “just keep your kid away from the peanut butter.”

Traveling with food allergies pt. 2

We are off to Canada next weekend to see my Grandma. My parents are already there and have been on the nut-free food hunt for us. They found bread and Quaker has six new granola bars that are nut-free and made in a nut-free plant in Canada. It seems that Canada is ahead of the game in many aspects of being aware of food allergies and accommodating people.

I am still afraid of flying with her allergy and the snacks on the plane. We are flying Northwest Airlines and they don’t serve peanuts, but the snacks they do serve might have nut in them, so who knows. They will make an announcement at the gate if you ask when you check in as well.

I am still afraid of going to restaurants on our trip. I don’t like confrontation and it is my fear that I will bring up my daughter’s peanut allergy and they will say everything is fine and then there will be cross contamination and she’ll have a reaction. I have restaurant cards that I printed out and hopefully people will be understanding.

I am a new fan of Sunbutter. It does taste just like peanut butter and my older daughter loves it. My allergic one doesn’t like it but that is okay since I don’t want her to get used to it and then accidentally have pb somewhere else when she gets older. She might associate it with her initial reaction which was from pb.

I contacted Disney for our trip in September. They are great. They have an entire division for special diets. They recommend that you make reservations in advance. Then about 2-3 days before, call the restaurant and remind them about your food allergy. Then when you get to the restaurant, talk to the manager and chef and they will prepare a special safe meal for your child. I have read great things about them. Here is one families’ experience with it. I will blog about it after we go.

I bought two books – the Peanut Allergy Handbook which is a small book that you can put with your epi-pen and benedryl. It has pages to put medic-alert info and details on yoru child as well as helpful advice to deal with the allergy and if there is a reaction, what to do. It is also good to give caregivers. I also bought the Peanut Allergy Answer book. I will start reading it this weekend. They are both available on Amazon.

As always, be vigilant and educate everyone! We are in this together. It really does take a village.