Caution, Relatives Ahead

in Features, Food Allergy, Newly Diagnosed
Published: July 2, 2010

Visiting the Relatives

Here are some tips from the experts to make family get-togethers easier:

  • Teach relatives the different names that your child’s allergen can have, but don’t expect them to become expert label readers. That remains your job.
  • Bring food for your child to eat if there is too much risk of cross-contamination in the kitchen.
  • Pin an allergy awareness button on a young child (especially if he is non-verbal) to serve as a constant visual reminder.
  • Do not assume that allergy education is a one-shot job for relatives. Call prior to the gathering to discuss the menu, then start get-togethers with a brief reminder about your child’s allergy.
  • Assess risk according to your child’s age, allergy awareness and maturity. Young children put lots of things into their mouths and need all allergens put out of reach; older kids should simply follow their “away from home” rules about eating (e.g. eating only their own food or food approved by their parents and that it’s correct to turn down questionable food from other adults, even insistent relatives).
  • Make your relatives aware that your child never eats without his epinephrine auto-injector (and perhaps inhalers) on hand. This drives home the seriousness of food allergy.
  • Asking for, rather than demanding, a relative’s help works amazingly well.
  • Family relationships can be complicated; if a problem pops up with food, stay focused on that and avoid dragging other issues into the situation.
  • Remember that no one wants to harm your child; stay positive, take a deep breath before you address potential problems. And remember to have fun.

First published in Allergic Living magazine. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.

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