August 23, 2011

Food Allergies



Cameron's preschool is hosting a back-to-school potluck dinner this weekend for all the new families. A couple of weeks ago, I signed up to bring a dessert and side dish.

This morning, I got an email from the preschool that included a "friendly reminder" that some of the students at the preschool have food allergies, and to make sure that the dishes that we bring are gluten-free, dairy-free, chocolate-free, red-dye free, strawberry-free, sugar-free and peanut-free.

A bowl of fruit it is.

Parents of kids with serious allergies: I don't know how you do it.

In other news, someone found the fish food today. I have already prepared the fishes' owner for the possibility that there may be a lot of floating corpses in the tank tomorrow.




38 comments

Kristin said...

How can they expect every single accommodation to be made for every single dish?? That's insane! I would think that parents/kids with allergies are used to avoiding certain foods and know to be careful.

Anonymous said...

I am a mother of a peanut allergy and I always take food I know he can eat. But I did make his school go peanut free and I am sure there are a lotof parents that are quite out out that they can't send PB&Js to school!

Mum on the Run said...

Nut free is widespread and totally understandable. The rest is the other kind of nuts!
What happened to just clearly labelling your food with the idgredients and letting people take responsibility for themselves and their childre???!!
Aaaagghh!!
My son had a dairy allergy for the first two years of his life.
I too cannot fathom how difficult life would be with numerous lifelong food allergies to fear.
But, c'mon!!!

Are goldfish gluten free?
Sorry. Bad taste.
:-)

Ms Numbers said...

Yeah, I understand that, our kindy is peanut, dairy, dye free. Makes it difficult, and mostly they provide food, and we pay a donation. Then they make things like pancakes and so forth.

Bossy said...

I think they left kosher off the list. Seriously what a nightmare. I am with Mum on the Run. Label it hazardous and move on.

Kira

Sarah said...

Don't forget no alcohol, coffee, weed brownies or jello either.

Paige's Pages said...

My heck thats nuts! I agree with the below comments. Label the food and then let people make their own decisions for them and their children. I am highly allergic lots of foods, so I usually just bring along something for myself. I am a nanny and I do the same for any of my kids that have allergies too. I just avoid anything that looks suspicious, always carry benadryl and epi-pens, and know the quickest route to the nearest hospital wherever I go. Good luck! :)

Mom of 12 said...

Carrot sticks sound good.
Sandy

kherbert said...

As a peanut allergic person. Have completely allergy free zones is a BIG mistake. Kids need to learn to cope with their allergy, while young enough for the rules to be part of their personality. It lessens the feeling of being deprived and risk taking behavior later. They also need to learn to be very forceful in saying no, when people push food.

My family, and we have people with pretty much every allergy you listed, simply puts out a recipe card at pot lucks. In situations like your preschool we advocate this technique. We usually have 2 or 3 kids with the severe allergies, so that lessens the you are being mean to allergic kids argument. Sometimes people don't realize that certain ingredients have a high probability of cross contamination. Having ingredient lists lessens the possibility of a hidden allergen. (Example Plain M&M's have peanut oil - or at least they used to)

Jennifer said...

khebert - that is a really good point that I hadn't thought of before. Even small kids do have to learn the skills to keep them safe. I have no problem accommodating an allergy, like peanut, that even being in the room near can be dangerous. But the rest? I don't want to stir up the pot, so don't crucify me, but I did read an article recently questioning a lot of what are are labeled "allergies" in children. It can be as controversial as the Autism spectrum dietary changes. *please don't attack me*.

Anita Cramer Wells said...

Just keep those strawberries out of the fruit bowl!
I know, my son's first grade class was like that. Plus there were some Ramadan issues for the Valentine's party or something. Crazy!

Tina said...

That's crazy! I completely agree with kherbert that labeling and teaching kids to be aware of their allergies and the risks is a much better option. But, if you want a recipe that fits the bill, search for a Paleo recipe. Here is one that's tasty - just skip the whipped cream icing. http://www.elanaspantry.com/blueberries-and-cream-cupcakes/

FamilySpice said...

Our school district prefers us to bring in store-bought food items, because everything is labeled. Like oreos are safe and healthier than a homemade oatmeal-raisin cookie!

Jennifer said...

I have heard, and experienced that too - only store bought. It's kind of sad to me. I like to make stuff. Well sometimes, anyway ;) It's like Trick or Treating - used to be fun and safe, and no one thought twice about it. Now it is Stranger Danger!!! Individual Sealed Wrappers!!! Only During Daylight!!! I'm all for safety, I just wish we could be simpler and more trusting.

Amy said...

My 3-year-old dumped the fish food into our tank a few months ago. Speed and Sweet quickly bid farewell to their faithful comrade, Sour, who bloated up like a grape and was 'swimming with the fishes' the next day.

All8 said...

My DD has a low tolerance for red dye. (It's even in some hot dogs?! That's a story.) She knows it and avoids those foods that make her feel badly and her eczema to flare up; but even at 2 she knew what to avoid and when she needed Benadryl.

I also think that people say allergy when they mean low tolerance. They can eat it and not feel good but, it's not life threatening. I feel so bad for those with allergies that can cause anaphylactic shock. I can't imagine how scary that would be as a parent.

All8 said...

Oh, and I guess you should have signed up to bring water. You would have been the star of the party.....to the parents.

Kmama said...

My child has a lot (LOT!) of food allergies, and therefore, we always bring our own treats. I bring a box of those wrapped Rice Krispy treats and leave them at school for the year. Whenever there's something my son can't have, he gets a rice krispy treat instead. It works out well. I never expect people to bend over backwards for us.

Andrea said...

There are way too many allergies to keep track of. All food should be labeled with all ingredients. Parents should teach their kids what they can and can't eat. I should say that my kids don't have allergies to food, but my sister do. They suck it up, read the ingredients, avoid what they can't eat.

Susan from WhatWeirdos! said...

Having a child with some common, and some rare, allergies, I think it's ridiculous to have Every dish accommodate Every allergy. One size does not fit all. It would be far better to have sign-ups that itemize: sign up to bring a dairy-free & egg-free dessert, sign-up to bring a gluten-free dessert, etc.

I too like the idea of labelling, but not of requiring that it be store-bought. That just means that children with allergies know for sure they can't participate in the fun. My daughter (4) can't eat store-bought cake, cookies, cupcakes, etc because she's allergic to eggs. I'm happy to send something that matches the food item to be handed out, but I need advance warning.

It was so hard for her a few weeks ago when her Primary President forgot about her allergies and handed out cupcakes she'd made that morning to everyone, only to suddenly remember and snatch it out of her hands with nothing to replace it. We went home and made our own. Two weeks later cookies were handed out, but the brother who brought them also had salt-water taffies. The Primary presidency was very impressed, and surprised, by his foresight for allergies. He was so proud of himself (and rightly so). He's our home teacher.

Leah said...

I agree with Susan and her points. They can't expect you to make everything fit everyone's allergies. That is just ridiculous and very time consuming. My children do not have allergies, but a lot of their friends do and I am very aware of them, and I always ask when they sleepovers about allergies.
That being said, I have been asked to take a snack to my daughter's class for a 2 weeks of school party and the first thign I asked about was allergies. The teacher replied back that there was one child who had allergies and if she could not eat what I was bringing (homemade doughnuts) she would ask her to bring her own snack.
I think the kids should be aware of their own allergies and be able to take responsibility for them themselves and not except society to cater to them. (Sorry if that causes any blood to boil)

Jennifer said...

I am so heartened by these responses. You can probably tell from my above post that my mom crowd can be overly sensitive and rather demanding about the world accommodating their children's unique situations (and whims, even). I've had everything from a mom asking for a bowl of cheerios for a child while at lunch at my house "because he just won't eat this" (Believe me it wasn't like I was serving escargot, it was healthy and kid friendly, and this was no toddler.) and mom's who send in the list of things they do not permit their children to eat, and apparently we should not be either.

Point being, I was terrified of responses that would condemn me to parenting hell. I knew there had to be more realistic and easy going moms out there than it seems in my circle. I'm on my third kindergartner, and it seems to get crazier every year.

Julie said...

What, no egg, soy, shellfish or tomato allergies? Sorry, but that's just crazy. Why don't they just allow you to make a dish and label if it has any of those allergens in it? If they are going to require that you omit all of those allergens then maybe they could provide you with actual recipes of safe foods to sign up for. My daughter's old preschool was nut-free and strawberry-free and they provided us with a list of bakeries that were "safe" to get birthday cupcakes from, or we could just make them at home.

Russ and Em said...

My daughter has a peanut allergy and we have helped her learn that the world isn't going to bend to her allergy so she needs to be aware and ask questions whenever she eats to find what is peanut free. While I'm always grateful when people do accommodate I think it is more important that she learn how to handle it for the many many times in her life when the situation wont accommodate her.

Anonymous said...

I have a child in my nursery class that has low intolerance and allergies to many foods including gluten, wheat, eggs and milk among a few. This child's mother is quite understanding of our ignorance in what we can serve this kid and gave us a list of things that were acceptable and most items were things that were easy such as veggies and most fruits...
This child's mother and sister suffer the same condition and it's well known that during sacrament meeting they bring their own piece of bread for them.
Last year I also had my daughter who's class had a kid with peanut allergies in which the kid went home for lunch everyday except fridays because it was a half day and I had to remember not to pack a PB honey sandwich on fridays.
So far that has been my own experience in accomodation of allergies, but I do understand the serverity of most allergies and am willing to accomodate accordingly if given advanced notice and a way to do so.

Maren said...

As a mom of a preschooler with lots of food allergies, I agree that it's ridiculous for everything served to have no potential allergens. Labeling is a great idea.

That said, I must say I consider it extremely thoughtful and am always grateful when someone brings something my daughter can have. I'm used to feeding her before we go anywhere or bringing my own food for her, but usually there is nothing she can eat at those functions. Seriously NOTHING.

Sarah King said...

My kids and I have a gluten allergy and every where we go if there is going to be food, I bring our own or we don't eat! Trying to accommodate every single thing at a potluck is ridiculous!!

Diana said...

love kherbert comment. SPOT ON!

Why are we becoming a society where everything is catered too? In the real world there is no catering like this. Put a recipe card out and if parents don't want their kids to have whatever...then don't feed it to them.

Surprised you didn't buy ORGANIC fruit. Tsk Tsk!!! : P

Emmy said...

Seriously- so grateful we don't have to deal with allergies.

Anonymous said...

my friend's little boy had lots of allergies. At birthday parties she would take him to the food table & say "you can have this & this, the others will give you itchies ok" She was doing this from when he was about 2 & he was really good about just having the things mum said were ok, he knew how bad he would feel if he had something she hadn't said was safe. My sister & her kids have allergies & we always make sure there are some things they can eat at get togethers but everything doesn't have to be ok for them, we just let them know what things they can eat. It really helps them as they get older to be used to checking out what things are & not assuming that everything has been catered for them if thats what they are used to.

Chrissy said...

I'm Gluten-free and there's no way I would trust a pot-luck. Not gonna happen. I'd still bring my own food or just eat the stuff I was certain was safe (fruit bowl, water...).

TracyKM said...

Eggs and soy weren't on the list? Hard boiled eggs for the side dish?
I get fustrated by our total no-nut policy. Peanuts are legumes, not nuts, and are the main concern. Real nut allergies are not nearly so common, but still banned. Yet many more kids are anaphalixic to eggs, shellfish, or soy and yet those are acceptable.
I read a blog where the writer's child's kindergarten class (here in Ontario, kids start kindergarten as young as 3 so pre-school is almost non-existant now) had strict rules for daily snacks. Basically all they could bring for snack time was fruit or veggies.

Michelle said...

Jennifer makes a good point that some allergies may just be sensitivities. However, there are blood tests and skin tests that can definitively say whether the indivdiual is allergic (so there's a good chance that the parent is telling the truth if they say their child is allergic).

As many other people have said, it should be up to the individual to check first, prepare something safe just in case, and appropriately educate the people around them.

On the other hand, we, as the community around these kids, need to do what we can to protect them. We wouldn't dream of saying, "Yes, we know a speeding car could kill you, but we're not putting up school zone signs or crossing guards--figure out a way to cross the busy highway." So why is it okay to say, "Yes, we know that being exposed to ______ could kill you (or just make you REALLY uncomfortable), but we don't care--it's your problem."?

This issue absolutely falls into the category of personal responsibility--but it also falls into the category of community sensitivity.

kario said...

As the parent of two girls who are allergic to gluten, I can sympathize with the challenges of feeding them in a potluck-style situation. That being said, I think it is ridiculous to expect that every single item ought to be something they CAN eat. I wouldn't go to a potluck and expect to eat every item (most of them are scary-looking). If it could somehow be assured that at least a sampling of the items could be safe (some gluten-free, some dairy free, etc.), that ought to be enough.

RIP to the fish.

Megan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan said...

At our school, we had a two tables in the lunch room that kids with peanut allergies to go sit.
And in my classes, there was either no one with allergies, or they were told to bring their own treat. I'm not sure.

Beth said...

My daughters are peanut, tree nut, egg and mustard allergic. Yes, it is tough but dang, I would never want anyone to have to prepare food for my kids to eat! We just bring our own food to stuff like this and let everyone enjoy "normal" recipes, or eat before or after. I'm so used to it now and most of my friends are. They are older and getting used to having to "opt out" when I haven't made a special trip to get them something safe. They have to learn that not eating at the event (and getting something at home before or after) is a viable and sometimes the safest option to choose.

kherbert said...

Not a doctor - just had this for 40+ years with great doctors that respected my intelligence and expected me to learn.

Low tolerances/mild allergy still needs to be watched - it can develop into a full blown deadly allergy.

If I had a choice of eating peanuts and getting instant treatment (deadly allergy) or eating shrimp (mild allergy) and getting instant treatment. I would eat the peanuts. With the peanuts and standard treatment for that degree of allergy - I'm going to be high as a kite for 36 hours. With the shrimp and standard treatment for that degree of allergy - I'm going to be miserable for at least 6 months. It will set off a "chain reaction" including my atopic dermatitis.

Kids who test postive and later are proven to not be allergic. There are 2 thoughts. 1 - It was a false positive. 2. That they were allergic when their immune systems were immature. If they had had repeated exposures to the allergin, their body would have been programmed to attack it building up the antibodies. Because they were protected from repeated exposures their immune system fixed the glitch.

I have a young cousin (Technically my 1st cousin 2 times removed because he is my 1st cousin's grandson). He was having skin problems like mine. Knowing our history his mother insisted on allergy testing. He initially tested positive for a slew of things including the expected peanuts.

He has been tested a couple of times since then. (They do the blood draw type test on him, I believe). Slowly the things he is testing positive are falling away. Those items have been reintroduced to his diet with no ill effects. The peanut allergy will probably stick. The adults in his life are aware that if he complains of physical discomfort from the foods (itching, tingling mouth, calling food that is not spicy - hot) we are to tell his parents ASAP and monitor him.