Having a child with multiple food allergies presents challenges. And a lot of them depending on the food the child is allergic to. If it isn’t your child, you may well think of them as problems. It is my child, so I choose to think of them as challenges and adventures into unknown culinary waters.
Mr. T is gluten-sensitive, allergic to yellow dye and soy, and seems to have mostly outgrown his issues with dairy. He’s always been 95th percentile in height and weight and he knows gluten makes him sick and (it affects his speech, too) so now he can self-advocate. I never worried too much when he was little once we figured out the issues. Those are easy enough to avoid, though I got eye rolls, huffs, and comments like “nobody is really sensitive to gluten”.
Mr. F was born in the 90th percentile at 21 inches and 9+ pounds but he has grown slower than Mr. T did. Now, at 2, he’s in the 40th percentile, but still growing. He began having some major digestive issues and we ended up having to have lots of allergy tests run. He’s allergic to wheat, and gluten in other grains, egg whites, peanuts, grapefruit, coconut, oats, yeast, and cashews. Those are the ones he has severe reactions to, anyway. The list of things he should only have in small quantities on rare occasion includes about 15 other items, like corn, soy, etc.
Did you know yeast is in most commercial seasoning blends? I didn’t either. But we know when Mr. F has gotten something he’s allergic to. Mr. F has been stuck at 26 pounds for months. He even lost a little when his digestive stuff got really bad. After a month of knowing his food allergies and being able to avoid them, he’s 27 and a half pounds! This mama is celebrating. You can imagine with his list of allergens that going out is tricky. And it’s caused issues already. If you have a child with multiple food allergies, you already know what I’m going to say. If you don’t, but know someone who does, this letter is for you.
To Parents, Friends and Family who don’t have a child with food allergies, I want you to know . . .
When you roll your eyes and make snide remarks, that hurts. This life of avoiding things that make my child sick is not fun for me, either. I promise my goal is only to maintain and improve the health of my child. I’m not trying to keep you from enjoying a meal.
This isn’t easy for me. This isn’t easy for my family. If you can’t be encouraging, please be quiet. We didn’t ask for this, we are not doing this for attention, and there is not a shot for it.
The hours I spend reading labels while trying to entertain my kids at the grocery store are hours you can spend playing outside with your kids. The time I spend emailing restaurants to see what my child can eat where is time I miss out on playing with my kids or keeping my house as clean as I’d like. If you want to go to a restaurant I haven’t gotten to check with yet, please understand if we decline.
I am in the kitchen a lot. It’s tiring and creates a lot of dishes. If you come over for a visit, please don’t judge.
Please don’t be offended if we skip out on a community picnic or pot-luck. Sometimes it’s just easier to go home where we have an entire meal that is guaranteed not to make my child sick. Sometimes we will just pack it all up and come along, too. We don’t want to be loners, even though having multiple food allergies seems very lonely sometimes.
When we are out together, please don’t try to sneak things to my child or offer them food off your plate without asking me first. I am adamant about avoiding trigger foods for a reason. Please respect that.
We have an AuviQ. I would be more than happy to teach you how to use it. I don’t mind at all if you have questions. In fact, I’d love to answer any you have and encourage you to spend time with my kids who eat weird food because they have to. They are pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself.
I understand why you stop asking us to come, why birthday party invites are few, why we never have big community family meal invitations. Really I do. But we do notice. And when we have a good handle on all this, we’d love to celebrate this beautiful mess of a life we have with you. Gluten free cookies and all.