Nut Allergies and Family and Friends

This post is the fourth post in a series that SnoWhite and I are doing on living with Nut Allergies. This week we are talking about communicating with friends and family members. Please be sure to read SnoWhite’s thought on this issue. She has been dealing with nut allergies most of her life and her information has been very helpful to me.

The subject of communicating with friends and family about the seriousness of a nut allergy is a difficult one. When you have a nut allergy, or a child with a nut allergy, it is your job to protect yourself or your child. It is ultimately my job to protect my daughter from exposure to nuts or peanuts, and I know I have to take that seriously.

Anyone that has had a severe reaction to food, or has seen their child have a reaction, knows how scary it is. It is not something that you want to risk. It really is not worth risking your life, just to eat something, so many times the best option is to just not eat.

This is where the issue of family and friends is difficult. We have already had many times where family or friends try to convince us that food is safe. Sometimes we do end up feeling the item is safe, but many times we choose to not eat the item in question, and this is where family and friends sometimes struggle to understand.

I think the main issue is that so many people do not realize how serious some food allergies are. They think of a regular allergy, but we are not talking about a simple rash or reaction that a cream, or dose of benedryl, will cure. We are talking about a life threatening allergy. One that can potentially kill you.

So, what is the best way to communicate this to friends and family.

I just try to be honest and explain the issue. When someone says, “but I made sure not to put nuts in this”, I try to explain the issue of cross contamination. Most people do not think about the cross contamination problem. They do not realize that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich they made in their kitchen, just minutes before they made a dessert or salad, puts my daughter at risk.

I try to give them an example like, “What if peanut butter was on your finger, and you did not wash all the peanut butter off, then you went on to make that salad you are trying to serve us. ” Most people don’t think about or realize the hidden dangers that those with food allergies deal with. We need to help them understand issues like reading labels and cross contamination.

I have found that most of the time people understand, but I have also come to realize that there are going to be times that people are offended because I will not serve my daughter their food, and I am okay with that. My daughter’s life is more important than offending Aunt Sally or anyone else.

This is a difficult issue, so I would love to hear your thoughts. What are your tips for helping family and friends understand nut allergies?

I am not a Doctor. I am simply a mom sharing our journey with nut allergies.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Comments

  1. my thoughts exactly, Lynn.

    “but I made sure not to put nuts in this” — this is the hardest one for me because I know people genuinely try to cook for me and they do go out of their way not to use nuts. However, the cross contamination issue is truly a challenge; I watched my husband learn how to cook for me and it took him months to really get a hang of it. And, the hardest part — it’s normal for those of us with allergies to not eat something someone else has prepared, but it’s not normal for the people who went out of their way to try to make something we can eat. Open communication, I’ve found, is the best way to go. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  2. I feel your pain, My nephew is 8 yrs old and would not gain weight so we had him tested for allergies, well not is only allergic to nuts, but pork, beef, soy,milk and just about any fruit you can name, its so hard to find something for him to eat. His grandparents dont understand because up until now he ate alot of these things, but he is 8 yrs old and only weighs 40 lbs, and its because the food he was eating made him sick to his stomach to the point he wouldnt eat, and what he did he , he didnt absorb. We have such a hard time making him something to eat, its a hard life for a child to live.

    • Wow, gluten free, nut and peanut free is hard enough. I can’t imagine dealing with what you are. I think kids are hard because they often don’t fully understand themselves about the allergy. The fact that my daughter is 12 is helpful because she tends to understand more, but it is still hard with children.

    • First, ((hugs)) for your nephew. We had a similar situation with my daughter when she was younger. She had multiple food allergies including milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, strawberries, but she was always complaining that her stomach hurt. It progressed to the point that she was vomitting nearly every day when we finally found out that she needed to be gluten-free. It’s been 5 years and she feels so much better, but she still is a bit leary of food that she doesn’t KNOW that she KNOWS that she KNOWS is safe. It’s tough, but as he starts to feel better, I hope that his appetite will return.

  3. I always feel bad as well when someone goes out of their way but either they don’t really understand or they mostly do but made a tiny error. The best way I deal with it is to fully prepare the host before hand by letting them know that I will not be eating food other than what I bring, but not to worry I’m okay with it.

    Another aspect I’m interested in is how do you tell children. I am allergic to corn, carrots, nuts and soy (I also avoid raw fruits/ved because it makes my mouth itchy due to seasonal allergies) and have a 2 1/2 year old. Lately he’s been asking what peanut butter is and I’ve just told him it makes mommy sick so we don’t keep it in the house. We’ve also run into the situation before where others were eating something I couldn’t so I didn’t let him have it (think nut cake that looks like cake I’ve let him eat before) and I feel so bad. Does anyone have ideas/tips/resources on how to explain allergies to young children?

    • I think young kids are the hardest to deal with this. They just don’t understand. My 12 yo understands why she can’t have it, but my 8 yo doesn’t understand why we can no longer eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which are his favorite. He will probably understand as he gets older, but until then it is hard.

    • My daughter has had multiple food allergies for her whole life. I think you are doing well by just saying that it makes you sick so you don’t keep it in the house and can’t have it. Kids that age don’t need long explanations. Just stick with that… it has nuts in it so we can’t have it because it makes Mommy sick. We can have something else later, and then give him/her something later that is safe for you to be around. It’s definitely hard, but my daughter has learned delayed gratification if we don’t have something safe for her for the unexpected things that come up.

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