How You Can Help Support Kids And Families With Food Allergies
Being able to eat and drink freely is a privilege that often goes unnoticed. From snacks at a friend’s house without scanning the ingredients, to indulging at family potlucks without a second thought; these everyday actions might seem frivolous, but for the families of children living with food allergies, these seemingly innocent activities can turn into a matter of life and death within minutes.
With May 10-16 being National Food Allergy Awareness Week, we wanted to take a moment to bring recognition to this very real threat within our communities. Researchers estimate that approximately 15 million Americans are currently living with a food allergy, including one in every 13 children. That equates to about two children in every classroom.
Even if your family isn’t personally affected by food allergies, there is a high probability that you will or have already come in contact with an affected child. So as you plan your next birthday party or summer social, please consider keeping these simple but impactful tips in mind to help ensure that every guest on the list can enjoy the soiree safely- and without feeling left out.
Although an allergy parent will typically make it a point to make you aware of their child’s condition right off the bat, it’s still a good practice to never assume that a child doesn’t have any allergies. It only takes a moment to do some simple enquiring before serving any foods or beverages that may contain common allergens. When it comes to allergic reaction prevention, the best offense is a good defense.
Offer Allergy-Friendly Options
A great way to eliminate the risk of allergic reactions altogether is to curate an allergy-friendly menu for your function. Avoiding common allergens and cross-contamination in your cooking doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice on fun and flavor. Plus, with so many allergy-friendly recipes available online, it’s never been easier to find a dish that will delight the entire crew.
Hand Out Toys Not Treats
If your party favors typically consist of cookies, candies, or other edible treats, consider adding some small toys to the mix as well. This will help make children with food allergies feel involved instead of left out of the fun. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or extravagant. Balloons, plastic kazoos, and oversized bouncy balls still go a long way with kids!
Look For Signs
While the signs of an allergic reaction can range from mild to severe, keep an eye out for symptoms such as vomiting, hives, shortness of breath, repetitive cough, shock, trouble swallowing, swelling of the tongue, weak pulse, pale or blue skin, dizziness, and anaphylaxis. Most food allergy symptoms will surface within 2 hours of ingestion with more severe reactions starting within just minutes. In very rare cases, the reaction may be delayed for up to 6 hours.
Have A Plan
I know its scary to prepare for the unthinkable, but having a plan in place with help ease everyone’s anxiety and keep children with allergies safe. If the child has an EpiPen, keep it nearby and be prepared to call for help if needed. Remember, there is no such thing as “other people’s children.” Its everyone’s job to help keep our kids safe.