What is your background (age, race, married etc.)? I am a quarter British, half English Canadian and a quarter French Quebecer! I am 37, married to an Egyptian (Cairo) 37-year-old bilingual man.
Do you have allergies? Does your spouse? I have a metal allergy. I am allergic to nickel and I recently found out that I am also allergic to aluminum if ingested or seeped through my body (via eyes as with make-up).
Does anyone in your family or his have allergies? No
How did you find out your child had allergies? By following the food guide’s list of things to give your baby stage by stage. I gave her a boiled egg (yolk only) at 10 months. She played with it and instantly had red hands and then started getting hives. She then rubbed her eyes, her entire face was red and you could see hives emerging. She was screaming hysterically within seconds of contact to the yolk.
What was your first thought? That she was allergic to eggs!
How has this changed your life? It has made us much more over-protective since then. We make sure she has a snack or her own lunch or food everywhere we go. We need to be prepared for the possibility of her not being able to eat the food when we are out. We check labels and re-check labels constantly. I must advise everyone of her allergy; schools, friends, family, restaurants, etc. I often get in little fights with my husband over making sure he or I checked a label! She has always had her own lunch at school. Before she could talk, we were scared to leave her in big day cares. I worked part time from home so I could be with her as much as possible. We do not have eggs or peanuts in the house; we often treat our second child as if she too has allergies, although she does not.
How does your child cope at school? Much better now that she is 6. It was hard at first because she attended pre-k at 3yrs old, which included lunch. She was the only one that had to bring her lunch. She was old enough to understand why and was very careful about it but we also made her feel special and let her have whatever she wanted as a lunch or we would try and copy (allergy free) the lunch menu of pre-k. Now she is in elementary school and many kids bring their lunches, so it’s not as big of a deal.
Does anyone treat your child differently? We sometimes try to make her feel special – like at a birthday party where she can’t have the cake, I will bring her favorite treat. We then act secretive and lucky to have this special treat. It is so common knowledge in our families (mine & my hubby’s) that it is no different than other kids, they (for the most part) always have her in mind when they cook or bake.
What would you like all parents to know- whether they have allergic kids or not? If they don’t have allergic kids, they need to be aware of it and the severity. If it can be avoided and it’s not a big deal, why not just avoid it? Amy is so appreciative and brings me to tears when she is so happy someone thought of her and made an egg-free cake or cookies. I remind these people how happy they made her and how easy it is to do. I give people my replacement ideas for eggs and hope some catch on.
Do you think your child will be all right? Yes, we are lucky that Amy is a very responsible child. She will ask us if we checked the ingredients, she will ask to see us read the ingredients. She has refused treats or food because she was unsure of the source. She will be more than fine! Especially once she can read herself and be more in charge of it all.
Has your child outgrown any of their allergies? Not as of yet. She is getting re-tested in August.
How concerned is your family? Do they understand the gravity of the situation? My side of the family gets it because they all have a peanut allergic child each. So we are all in it together. Obviously Amy’s egg allergy adds more complications but they get it and make the effort. I still do need to check ingredients before I serve anything to my daughter – even my own mom sometimes forgets to check pasta ingredients, which are often made in a facility, which processes eggs.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Once you know all the tricks and replacement strategies, it is second nature and easy to make allergy free meals and treats. They often become favorites with non-allergic people and kids! I can’t say we were not happy when we found out our second daughter had no food allergies, but only for her own safety. An accident is what I fear, someone convincing her or us that there are no eggs and there is – or her getting a raw egg thrown at her or something crazy like that is what scares me. But as for food she eats, there are so many great health food stores and allergy free foods and snacks and recipes that it is very doable. Also, having an allergic child does get easier as they grow older. The hard part of them being so young and not understanding why they could not have something is what was hard. Also not knowing what is wrong with your child for months before the allergy test.
Thanks and keep doing what you are doing – Awareness will save lives!
Author: Tarah Jakubiak
After working for 20 years in the corporate world, Tarah Jakubiak founded Allergic Traveler. Jakubiak, president of Allergic Traveler has traveled the world since the age of two. She has been to 25 countries and 34 states. Jakubiak has been to all inclusives, gone on cruises, gone camping; backpacking through Europe, gone to the big cities, and little hidden gems. She has multiple food allergies but it does not stop her from seeing the world. Jakubiak is allergic to eggs, nuts, mushroom, soy, garlic, corn, sesame, potatoes, celery, shellfish, chicken, pork, peanuts, and many fruits. She is originally from Montreal, Quebec and now lives in Greensboro, NC with her husband.