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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 9:44 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:09 am
Posts: 1054
Now that the summer season is within our reach, I wanted to get a sense of how others handle these situations. I'm talking more about picnics and potlucks where you'll be around extended family and friends who might not know about or understand your child's allergy (people that you and your child may only see once a year, if that). I know to bring my child's food for him...my concerns lie more in the other food that will be present -- will it contain nuts, or tree nuts (insert your child's allergen here) and the people that will want to touch, hug and kiss my son after eating his allergen. The thought of having open dishes of food laying around that may or may not include his allergen causes anxiety. Do people avoid these get-togethers altogether? Do you ask organizers to ask people to refrain from bringing dishes that include your child's allergen (if you're not dealing with multiple allergens)? Any thoughts would be helpful...I don't want to keep him from a potentially fun day but I obviously don't want to expose him to an unsafe situation either.


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 10:28 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
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Location: Ottawa
Our daughter is very good about not eating any of the foods (we remind her each time).
I'm more concerned about those with buttery hands from corn on the cob touching her. Luckily most of our relatives "get it".
Still, I carry many wet wipes. :)
We also try to suggest as many foods as possible that don't cantain her allergens but still, we don't let her eat them due to potential cross contamination.

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 1:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 3:03 pm
Posts: 105
Location: Coquitlam
I would ask the organizers to please let the others know about the allergens and to please avoid bringing them. Most people are very understanding and willing to comply.
I agree with you in regards to not feeding him the food unless it is from one of my immediate family members who totally get it. (some don't)

I think a big part of life is sharing and spending time with family and friends and I would hate to take that away from them just because of their allergens. Of course I always have benadryl an epi-pen and a cell phone with us just in case.

My motto:

Don't let the allergens stop any of you from living a full life. Always be cautious, but don't forget to live life to the fullest.

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Sil


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 1:50 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
It does depend on the allergens. If I asked everyone to not bring my kids' allergens to a party, there wouldn't be anything to eat. At least not anything that anyone would recognize or know how to make at first glance. I can make lots of safe foods with substitutes, but I am not interested in becoming a caterer for free. Even to ask people to not bring anything with milk and eggs in it is asking a lot. I mean, let's be honest -- that is pretty restrictive! (I know - I've done it for years...)

To be honest, with our list, we have restricted our activities somewhat in the past, because it was just such a hassle to do all the safe food and keep the kids safe, etc. At one point, our whole lives revolved around finding and making safe food that sometimes we just got burnt out. Adding a party into the mix was just too much work. Now that the kids are a bit older (5 & 7), it's getting easier. Plus we are finding more safe foods as time goes by. And my kids are finally sleeping through the night -- after 7 years of waking up between the two of them....

A few years ago, we made the mistake of going to a potluck without much in the way of backup food (because we were so tired), and tried giving my oldest (then about 4) a bit of pasta salad after checking that it was safe. He saw something that looked unsafe to him, freaked out, wouldn't calm down, and we ended up leaving. I felt so bad - for us, for him, for our lives... We didn't do many parties for awhile after that.

With a lot of planning it can be done, and sometimes it's worth it. For us, sometimes it just wasn't worth it.

Sorry to sound like such a downer, but there are only so many things you can do in life, and sometimes parties just weren't on my list of important things.

K.

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Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 2:05 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
Very recently (after this forum started up) I became more comfortable with asking for special accomodations in some cases (i.e. when close family and friends are involved).
Like you, I don't eat the food that others have prepared---I don't even eat anything that my mom prepares once it is out on the table. (she takes some of the dish out for me in advance---once it hits the buffet, cross-contamination can easily occur.)

I also wouldn't be comfortable in asking people to avoid bringing dishes with the range of severe allergens we have in our immediate family. But last summer, I sent an email to our extended family asking everyone if they could avoid bringing nut-containing food. One of my sisters has serious contact reactions, and nuts are the allergen that I worry most about. I wasn't certain how it would go over---I thought people would be sympathetic but wondered about whether some would be privately annoyed. I didn't hear back from everyone, but a number of people did write back with their support. (one of my great uncles--who as it turns out has a nut allergy--joked that if nuts weren't allowed there would be few attending the family picnic) And no one brought nuts.
I was surprised to hear that more people are allergic to nuts than just my immediate family and one of my cousins. One of my father's cousins who is a teacher thanked me for sending the email---she thought that people should not be bringing nuts to family events. (and her brother had food allergies when he was a kid; her father also has allergies--including to nuts)

Unfortunately, I don't think I will be attending this year. Packing all my own food for lunch *and* dinner + travelling from TO for the event will be too much.


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 5:29 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 928
Location: Oakville, Ontario
My husband, daughter, son & I really enjoy getting together often with family and friends (including picnics). We've gotten better and better at preparing for these gatherings, but there have been a few times where it's been more difficult than others. In spite of the fact that we always bring our son's food, we still ask in advance if everyone could please avoid bringing foods containing nuts, peanuts, visible sesame seeds or sunflower seeds (because the seeds could fall off the food). We have truly been amazed at how willing people have been to honour our request. If people ask for specific safe foods (most people DO ask us), we are very grateful and will suggest very specific foods - exact name brands, etc. This has allowed our family to safely attend many events, but we are still very vigilant. There are always some unsafe foods around since we are dealing with multiple allergies. We also bring lots of safe backup foods that our son enjoys, and can be shared with others. We bring along a stash of food in the trunk that we can bring out if needed. We are very careful with cross contamination if there is any sort of sharing going on. We have 11 young nieces and nephews, and most of our friends have young kids, so we are constantly teaching all the young ones about food allergies. They are very willing to learn!

Having said this, there have been a handful of events that we have avoided due to concern for our son's safety around food. One event we attended over the winter was particularly stressful. My husband's large extended family had a gathering at one of their homes, and despite our advance preparation, there were many unsafe foods (my husband is Japanese, and Japanese food happens to contain MANY of our son's allergens). Well, the house was JAMMED with people, and despite our keeping a very close eye on our son, he still ended up sticking his whole hand in the crab dip! Nothing happened to our son, but I would prefer to avoid these types of events until our son is much more mature, and won't end up falling into the smoked salmon!

Anyway, YES, we do attend many of these events, (but not all) and YES, it's much more work to attend. We never do anything "on a whim" (as we once did)... there is a lot more advance prep needed, including talking to many people - I really think that's so important, so it's best to find a way to approach people in such a way that they are willing to bend over backwards to be careful in terms of specific food allergens (otherwise, we would not attend). It does get easier as you get more practice.

Enjoy!

_________________
15 yr old daughter: no health issues
12 yr old son: allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame, sunflower, mustard, poppy seeds, green peas, some fruits, instructed to avoid all other legumes (except soy & green beans), pollen, cats, horses


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 11:24 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
There are numerous food allergy pins, shirts etc. out there

http://www.vegetarianbaby.com/store/pins.shtml

Here is one, I believe anaphylaxis canada has some as well. We made our own buttons (for when the child is too young to tell everyone herself). We bought a homemade buttons pack at walmart and bought some bright happy face stickers (quite eye catching) and wrote in marker "PLEASE DON"T FEED ME I HAVE A FOOD ALLERGY" The girls wore them to my brothers wedding last summer where they knew absolutely no one except my parents. The buttons definitely sparked some questions, and we were able to easily ask people to wash their hands (or their childrens hands) before touching our kids.

We do avoid most situations now (youngest is only 3 and milk is everywhere). With peanuts/nuts I do not think it is unreasonable for others to omit them from the food. I mean if you are with people who you know, they should be willing to help keep your child safe (unless you are my MIL...long story).

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DD age 9 1/2 -peanuts, nuts,
DD age 7 1/2 - milk, eggs, chicken, peanuts, treenuts, cats, dogs,
DS age 2 1/2
Husband- asthma, eggs, treenuts, fish, shellfish environmental
Self - penicillan, eurithromiacin, mild laytex allergy.


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PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2006 12:28 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:09 am
Posts: 1054
Thanks for all of the ideas and perspectives. I appreciate hearing all angles (I didn't think your post was a "downer", Karen :wink: ). It just reinforces what I know to be true -- if it's really important to us that we attend -- we'll do so with precautions in place (I'll definitely request that the organizers ask others to refrain from bringing nuts - thanks for your opinions on this - sometimes I'm just not sure if this is an unreasonable request). If it's not so important to us -- we'll find something else to do. :)


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PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2006 1:31 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:09 am
Posts: 1054
ethansmom wrote:
I'll definitely request that the organizers ask others to refrain from bringing nuts - thanks for your opinions on this - sometimes I'm just not sure if this is an unreasonable request

I just wanted to clarify this before I get chastized :wink:
I'm trying to keep our needs as an allergic family and my expectations and the rights of others in balance. Because I'm talking about food-centred events that we can always choose not to attend -- I would like, but don't expect that others accomodate us. The events that I'm referring to include strangers, people outside our circle of close family and friends (who understand my son's allergy and who I expect (and do) want to keep him safe).


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PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2006 5:15 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6476
Location: Ottawa
One thing that I requested at our last family reunion was that our car not be blocked when the cars were parked.
Everyone was super and they made sure that our car was on site (many peope parked at a distance and were transported to the cottage), closest to the road and turned to face the road. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. :)
I needed to remind a few people who wondered why we weren't all eating the food. I brought food for our little family and dh and I ate what our daughter ate to avoid us being "contaminated". It's hard to cut her food etc when your own hands are covered with butter or some other allergen.
I washed a lot of dishes and cooked our food after the rest had been prepared. I brought a pre-cooked roast and heated it in the microwave. I precut broccolli and carrots very fine. I heated some frozen broth,tossed in the veggies and some couscous. That, a bag of salad with sliced tomatos and our supper was ready in minutes.
Breakfast was pancakes (I made a mix and only had to add oil and soya milk/water), bacon and juice.

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2006 6:51 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:09 am
Posts: 1054
Good point about not having your car blocked Susan -- your dinner and breakfast sounds delicious! You've given me some good food ideas for camping.


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PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2006 11:23 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 928
Location: Oakville, Ontario
Ethansmom, I just wanted to say that I completely agree with you - I feel the same way... I've felt uncomfortable asking people to accommodate our families needs (and I still feel uncomfortable about asking, but I know, because of our son's age, we have to discuss and make arrangements for those allergens we feel put our 4 yr old son at higher risk), so, I don't want it to sound like we EXPECT others to just accommodate us - how selfish does that sound! This is why I've been amazed at the willing cooperation our family has experienced with handling our son's food allergies at social functions.

If you really feel a particular situation is putting your child at risk, I think it's best to decline, or leave early.

Now that I'm thinking more about this, I realised that our family does decline to take part in some activities. For example, we have declined to attend my HUGE family reunion in Manitoba this summer due to concerns over our son's safety, and we never travel (we've had 2 bad allergic experiences with travel in the past), so I guess, now that I think of it, we do decline some social functions. For our family, we can manage most social events which span an afternoon or evening... an overnight is not easy for us at this point. We have become accustomed to this way of life, so I "forget" the special arrangements we make in our day-to-day life.

_________________
15 yr old daughter: no health issues
12 yr old son: allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame, sunflower, mustard, poppy seeds, green peas, some fruits, instructed to avoid all other legumes (except soy & green beans), pollen, cats, horses


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PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2006 1:23 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6476
Location: Ottawa
Quote:
I realised that our family does decline to take part in some activities. For example, we have declined to attend my HUGE family reunion in Manitoba this summer due to concerns over our son's safety, and we never travel (we've had 2 bad allergic experiences with travel in the past), so I guess, now that I think of it, we do decline some social functions.

We will be attending a marriage in Calgary next year. My husbands brother is getting married so we don't feel we should decline. The question is do we fly out or drive? Which is cheaper, which is less stress. Driving would be cheaper and we could bring more 'essentials' but if we have to find several accomodationsaong the way that could be stressful. Also, do they change the bedspreads or juat the sheets at hotels? All of that roomservice bothers me. What has been in the room? Just my paranoia. :roll:
If we fly, we can't bring as much but the over all time away will be less and I'm sure fr the 5 year old it will be more pleasant.

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2006 4:54 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 928
Location: Oakville, Ontario
Susan, It sounds like many families taking part in this chat group DO travel, and have found safe options for travel. I can certainly understand your desire to attend your brother-in-laws wedding, and I'm sure you can find a safe way to attend! We all have our comfort level and factors influencing the decisions we make, so please don't let our decision to put travel on hold (for the time being) influence your decision. My husband and I felt that if our son was one year older (5 yrs old instead of 4), we might have felt comfortable traveling, but facing 2 whole weeks with a multitude of food related events was too much for us to grapple with. Trying to keep a very active 4 year old away from ALL the food at these events was going to be exhausting for us, so after much thought, we have declined to attend. I hope you can tap into some great ideas in the travel section.

_________________
15 yr old daughter: no health issues
12 yr old son: allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame, sunflower, mustard, poppy seeds, green peas, some fruits, instructed to avoid all other legumes (except soy & green beans), pollen, cats, horses


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PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2006 7:07 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6476
Location: Ottawa
Yeah, sometimes it seems like it was easier when they were younger. They couldn't get into as much.
We will find a way. Personally I am leaning to air travel. A 5 yearold in the back seat for 3-4 days of long distance travel each direction is not my idea of a vacation. My husband is leaning towards driving as a way to see some of the country.

_________________
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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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