Category Archives: Education
Thanksgiving hits a sore spot with me. The thought of putting food traditions before family traditions is just sad. Isn’t the point of Thanksgiving to GIVE THANKS? I mean, it’s right there in the title of the holiday. Thankful for family, friends, and the ability to be together SAFELY. Shouldn’t we be able to put food traditions aside for those closest to us?
I thought this year would be different. I had been texting Squid’s teacher about their menu for the “Pilgrims and Indians” celebration they were having at the preschool. She and I were so excited that Squid would be included and that he would finally be able to safely sit at the same table with his friends while eating a meal. Then everything changed.
The program director decided to bring back the tradition of inviting parents to the celebration. That’s great but that meant the menu would be changing. It also meant Squid would be left at his own table, eating by himself once again for this day that is suppose to be a celebration with friends. I was heart broken! I was especially heart broken that I received this news the day before the event. After talking with the program director, she decided she would bring some safe items for him to eat so he could be included.
Hindsight: I should have just volunteered to bring him a lunch but we’ll get back to that later.
The day of the Pilgrims and Indians celebration, I’m still a little sad for Squid but I decided to put it behind me because I knew we could safely sit with a friend or two as long as we left some space and washed up after the meal. Seating arrangements quickly became the least of my worries.
Walk into the cafeteria and look at all the food on the table
- Breaded chicken: DANGER!
- Mac & Cheese, mac & cheese, mac & cheese: DANGER DANGER DANGER!
HOW MANY DISHES OF MAC & CHEESE DO WE NEED?! DANGER!! How are we going to keep all those cheesy hands away from my contact allergic child? DANGER!!
- Stay calm, stay calm, smile, look confident
- Do those veggies have butter in them?
- Look at all that icing on those cookies! DANGER!
- Look confident, smile, don’t freak out, Squid had his own food….
Wait this is not what we discussed. Where is the safe food for my child? Where’s the grilled chicken? She said she would order grilled chicken.
Upon realizing that thing were not going as we discussed, I asked the director if she ordered Squid any grilled chicken and she told me she already had him a plate made (the students hadn’t made it to their seats yet). His plate looked okay but when she told me she read the chicken twice and it didn’t contain Egg or Soy, I became concerned. He’s not allergic to Soy, he’s allergic to Milk. Fear rushed over me.
Hindsight: I should have scooped his plate off the table and taken it with me until I deemed it safe.
One look at the label and there it was in bold letters CONTAINS: SOY & MILK. Bless her heart, she tried but milk is everywhere. I returned to the cafeteria area to find my child sitting at his plate, digging into his meal. Every alarm went off inside of me and my adrenaline with on max. DANGER! I started screaming NO! NO! NO! WHAT DID YOU EAT? SPIT IT OUT! THE CHICKEN HAS MILK! WHAT DID YOU EAT? I squished his cheeks to open his mouth and to my relief found a pretzel inside. Thank you, God!!!
Mind of an allergy parent:
That was close. TOO CLOSE! Now what is he going to eat? That plate is contaminated. Get that plate out of here! There is only mac & cheese with a side of mac & cheese. What is he going to eat? Is it hot in here? I need to get out of here. I need to get my child out of here! Was that pretzel touching the chicken? Oh God, that was too close! That you God for your protection over my Squid! I need to get out of here.
And as you can see, after the situation was deemed “safe” I went into full-on panic attack over our close call. Yep, right there in front of everyone. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I’m doing all of this with a 20 pound baby on my hip.
Squid’s teacher kept an eye on him while the director pulled me into the back room. There was a whole lot of ugly crying, shaking, and the other lovely panic attack symptoms in the bathroom for the rest of the event. Squid’s teacher came to check on me, brought me a drink, prayed over me, and offered her general support in an unfamiliar situation. My poor husband had to leave work to come help me calm down. I was so embarrassed! I went back in to get Squid and just prayed the whole time that nobody would see my splotchy red skin and bloodshot eyes. I never want to do that again!
HOW TO KEEP IT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN:
1. Read every label, every time, YOURSELF!
This is something I know and I shouldn’t have to be reminded but here I am reminding myself that I need to read the label myself BEFORE a plate is served to my child. I went back to read the label again to see exactly which milk ingredient chicken could possible contain. It had whey protein. (If you’re not familiar with milk protein, casein and whey are the big two.) When I pointed it out to the director, she said “oh, I had no idea.”
Mind of an allergy parent:
Why would you tell me that you read the label TWICE if you don’t know which ingredients are milk?! The rest of the day’s events have just made me sad, anxious, or embarrassed but THAT just TICKS ME OFF!
2. Always bring a safe backup meal
Again, I shouldn’t have to be reminded of this but there I was without a backup plan. We take a backup meal EVERYWHERE! We’ve been doing it since he was diagnosed.
Silly mom, you know better. I’m so mad that I failed on my fail safe. I think this irritates me the most.
3. Keep informed of changes
I wish I had more control over this one but I didn’t. We were out of town an Squid’s allergy appointment when the changes were made. The teacher said the director was suppose to talk to me about it but it looks like the topic just fell through the cracks with everything else going on around this busy season. I was disappointed that I found out the night before the event that (unsafe) menu changes had been made but that’s beyond my control.
4. Action plan
I’ve read numerous upon numerous blogs about anxiety. I have bible verses memorized about dealing with anxiety. I’ve read how to ground yourself during a panic attack. Nothing worked this time. The panic attack overtook me and I felt like I was drowning. I guess it’s a natural reaction to a close call but I wish I could have kept it together a little better. Hey, at least my allergy plan was in place and worked well, right?
I’m still embarrassed.
Lately I’ve been getting a lot of “you never come see us anymore.” Not that visits were frequent before children but our closest relatives live at least an hour away.
I never knew how much stuff a baby needed when traveling. It’s quite a chore, especially if you’re staying the night! Now let’s add food allergies into that mix. YOWZAS!
Here are some of the extra steps I have to take when traveling.
1. I start by thinking (and obsessing) over every little detail. Who will be there? Will they respect my rules regarding Squid’s allergies? Will there be food? If there is food, will it be safe? If it’s not safe, will people wash their hands before touching Squid? What will we eat? How long are we staying? How much food will we need? Should I take extra cleaning wipes for other people’s hands/our eating area? HOW AM I GOING TO KEEP MY CHILD SAFE??? The list goes on and on and on!
2. Take all those questions from #1 and begin packing. It takes me AT LEAST two days to pack and make sure everything is perfect because we do not have the “stop at the nearest fast food option.” It’s what I bring or nothing because after several reactions and way too many close calls, I really have a hard time trusting food that wasn’t cooked by me or with me present.
3. The day has come. We’ve made the trip and arrived safely. The hard part is over right? HA! Not a chance. Remember all of those questions from #1? They’re still buzzing in my head but this time they’re being played out in real life. I can’t relax at all during my visit due to worry about what Squid may accidentally be exposed to and how many hives he will get THIS time.
Vacation is not a vacation for me! My idea of a vacation these days is leaving Squid with Daddy and having some Mommy time of some sort. Family events where I can relax are very rare, especially if they involve food. Needless to say, Thanksgiving is my new version of a complete nervous wreck nightmare!
4. Making it back home without hives or a hospital visit is nothing short of a miracle! Praise God!
Please be understanding. Please be patient. Food allergies are rough.
There are some things that I’ve learned since my son’s diagnosis with food allergies (particularly dairy). I have a feeling I’m going to need to continually add to this post.
1. Nobody Understands
Seriously. I’ve noticed that even within our family, unless they are involved in Squid’s day-to-day life, they just don’t get it (with a few exceptions). “What do you mean I cant bring my own food into your house? Your kid will be fine, right?” Sorry, not taking that chance. If you don’t understand, at least be respectful of the allergy parent’s decisions.
2. Gluten-free Spam
I can not tell you how many people (outside of my social circle) have sent me suggestions for products or recipes that are gluten-free. That’s all fine and dandy but it still contains DAIRY! We don’t have a wheat issue so I’m not too concerned about wheat/gluten but thanks for thinking of us.
3. What do you eat?!
Every time Squid adds a new allergen to his ever growing list, people say “Oh that poor baby. What do you eat?!” Umm…. lots of things. Sub out the dairy and there ya go, same as everyone else. We were already avoiding egg and shellfish so it was no big deal to cut them out completely when he was officially diagnosed. I don’t feel like he’s “that poor baby.” We learn to adapt for our child and it’s no big deal for us. Just a new part of our life.
4. Cutting out dairy doesn’t mean cutting out “the good stuff”
I absolutely love that there is a substitution for most dairy items! Milk, ice cream, butter, yogurt, whipped cream, cream cheese! I know I’m missing some but YUM! I also love that if there isn’t a substitute to be found, one can be created. The only thing I feel like we actually gave up was cheese. Still looking for a good sub because Daiya just doesn’t cut it for me and most of the others have casein protein.
5. Dairy is EVERYWHERE!
Do some manufacturers look at their product and say, “Hmm, what is this missing? Oh, I know, DAIRY!” Thank God for multiple brands!
6. Heightened awareness
I see food completely different now. when any kid walks in with a food item in his hand, my allergy mom radar starts going off. I feel like a crazy person but it is all for the safety of my little Squid.
7. Freaking people out is fun
I’m sorry but sometimes you just need some comic relief. When I’m feeling a little crazy and people ask about Squid’s dairy allergy, I start naming off all the crazy random things I’ve found that contain dairy. Toothpaste, chalk, balloons, deli meat, non-dairy creamer, tic-tacs, the list goes on and the look on their face is priceless. Mama’s gotta laugh at life.
8. Oh! I’m lactose intolerant too!
I know you’re trying to relate but no. Just no.
9. Ah, first time moms
When we go out to eat, I wipe down our entire table and all the chairs because Squid has a contact allergic to dairy. I see the other people looking at my young family and probably thinking “look at that first time, overprotective mom, bet she wont do that with number 2, 3, etc.” Actually, someone did say that to me once when they saw me pull his pacifier out of a ziplock bag. You better believe if future children have food allergies, I’ll be protecting them too! Doesn’t bother me one bit to keep him safe.
10. I wouldn’t change a thing
We’re foodies so we thought Squid’s diagnosis of dairy allergy was the end of the world at first. Then we realized it was just the end of the world as we knew it. Once we learned how to sub, we realized that cutting out dairy opened up a whole new world of food! Amazing food! My baby is an appropriate weight, my husband lost 50 lbs and I’m wearing jeans I wore in high school (20 lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight). We feel healthier than we have in years and all by just cutting out dairy and not dining out. The added fact that my child could die from a sip is extremely scary and I continually pray that he’ll grow out of it soon but I do not foresee us adding it back into our diet when he is able.
I have a friend that just discovered a dairy allergy in her son and another that is suspecting an intolerance in her newborn so I decided to put together a book of resources for beginners.
Avoiding Milk: A beginners guide
I’m at that age where most of my friends are starting to think about having babies. Most are on their first, some are on their second, one is on her third, but they all have the same question. “When did you know Squid had food allergies?”
Looking back, I feel like I should have known all along. He was never full, always cranky, spit up hours after eating, and always had eczema on his face. The pediatrician diagnosed him with reflux at just a month old (symptoms started around 2 weeks old but the medication never really helped). At 4 months, she advised us to start oatmeal to help with his symptoms. Looking back we see that he never truly had reflux, it was the dairy allergy all along. One day I mixed the oatmeal with formula so I could save my frozen breast milk for bottles. He acted like it didn’t taste good and his face was red around his mouth. Later followed by an unpleasant diaper. When we brought it up at his next appointment, the pediatrician suspected a milk sensitivity so we began avoiding dairy in his solid foods. I wish someone would have told me that I should be avoiding it as well while breastfeeding a suspected milk sensitive baby…live and learn.
At his 6 month appointment, Squid only weighed 13 lbs. At a previous sick appointment at 5 months, he weighed 13 lbs 3 oz. My baby lost weight! What did I do wrong? Nothing, I did nothing wrong. We started supplementing Puramino formula every other feeding to help him gain his weight back. Within a couple of days my once crabby, vomiting, twiggy looking baby began to be the happiest baby I’d ever met after formula feedings but reverted back to his vomiting crab state after breastfeeding. Naturally, I had had enough with the vomit so I decided to quit breastfeeding and stick with the formula. Squid gained 3 lbs that month!
A few months of expensive formula can really wear on your pocket book! Since the pediatrician suspected just a sensitivity, she thought he’d grow out of it quickly and advised us to try milk-based formula again at 8 months. I felt weird about it but I’m not a doctor so I followed the advice. Always trust your mom gut! I was nervous so I prepared 1 oz of milk-based formula and diluted it in his usual 5oz of Puramino. I began feeding him and right away he didn’t seem right. We gave him benadryl as a precaution and it’s a good thing we did!
SIDE NOTE: if you suspect a food allergy, don’t try new foods outside of office hours!
It was a Friday evening and we were completely uneducated on dairy allergies. Until this night, I didn’t even know it was a thing. Dairy sensitivity, yes but an allergy? How can my baby possibly have a dairy allergy? He took a nap on me after his bottle and benadryl so I could monitor him. An hour later he woke up with hives starting around his mouth and on the back of his neck. He played with his toys and crawled around as if nothing was bothering him. We called the pediatrician and a local urgent care clinic and waited impatiently to hear back from both. They finally called back with the same verdict. Emergency room.
He DID NOT have any issues with breathing, otherwise we would have taken him straight to the emergency room!
When we arrived at the emergency room, the benadryl had finally started doing its job and his rash was mostly gone. The doctor basically gave us a pat on the back, said “good job giving him benadryl” and sent us home.
The egg allergy on the other hand, we didn’t discover until getting him allergy tested. I don’t really like eggs and after discovering his dairy allergy, we avoided the other top 8 allergens that we had not introduced yet.
Read more about food allergies at http://www.foodallergy.org
No dairy?! Hidden dairy?! What in the world does Squid eat?! That poor deprived boy can’t enjoy any of the “good things” in life!
These days there are endless options to be dairy free! Almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, soy milk, hemp milk (yes, that’s a thing), 7 grain milk and most of these options can be made into yogurt, ice cream, cream cheese, cheese, butter, and pudding. Very tasty options! He will NEVER be deprived of ice cream and cake!
As far as the hidden dairy goes, it all comes down to reading labels. While some pre-packaged items contain milk proteins (casein and whey), not all do. Finding safe foods for him became easy once we learned how to read labels. Some people have told me “that’s just too much work!” Well, I’ll do whatever it takes to protect my child.
Avoid foods that contain milk or any of these ingredients:
- Butter, butter fat, butter oil, butter acid, butter ester(s)
- Casein hydrolysate
- Caseinates (in all forms)
- Cottage cheese
- Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate
- Milk (in all forms, including condensed, derivative, dry, evaporated, goat’s milk and milk from other animals, lowfat, malted, milkfat, nonfat, powder, protein, skimmed, solids, whole)
- Milk protein hydrolysate
- Rennet casein
- Sour cream, sour cream solids
- Sour milk solids
- Whey (in all forms)
- Whey protein hydrolysate
Milk is sometimes found in the following:
- Artificial butter flavor
- Baked goods
- Caramel candies
- Lactic acid starter culture and other bacterial cultures
- Luncheon meat, hot dogs, sausages
- Nondairy products
Some Unexpected Sources of Milk*
- Deli meat slicers are frequently used for both meat and cheese products.
- Some brands of canned tuna fish contain casein, a milk protein.
- Many non-dairy products contain casein (a milk derivative), listed on the ingredient labels.
- Some specialty products made with milk substitutes (i.e., soy-, nut- or rice-based dairy products) are manufactured on equipment shared with milk.
- Some meats may contain casein as a binder. Check all labels carefully.
- Shellfish is sometimes dipped in milk to reduce the fishy odor. Ask questions about the risk of milk contact when purchasing shellfish.
- Many restaurants put butter on steaks after they have been grilled to add extra flavor. The butter is not visible after it melts.
- Some medications contain milk protein.
Ok, dairy allergy…. I understand Squid can’t have milk, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese, or cheese BUT why won’t you let him eat pancakes if I only add water, boxed cake, hotdogs, or other items that are not marketed as “dairy”?
While most people only see dairy as milk and milk related items, they don’t realize that milk is made up of proteins. Cow’s milk contains at least 20 protein components that may provoke an antibody response. The milk proteins, casein and whey are to blame. Caseins give milk its “milky” appearance and the whey makes up the remainder of the milk substance. Most commercial sources of whey are contaminated with casein proteins, and vice versa, so it can be hard to find truly “milk-free” foods.
Squid has a dairy allergy, does that mean he’s lactose intolerant?
The simple answer to that is NO, they are completely different!
Milk allergy should not be confused with lactose intolerance. A food allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a specific food protein. When the food protein is ingested, in can trigger an allergic reaction that may include a range of symptoms from mild symptoms (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) to severe symptoms (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc.). A food allergy can be potentially fatal.
Unlike food allergies, food intolerances do not involve the immune system. People who are lactose intolerant are missing the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. As a result, lactose-intolerant patients are unable to digest these foods, and may experience symptoms such as nausea, cramps, gas, bloating and diarrhea. While lactose intolerance can cause great discomfort, it is not life-threatening.
Food Allergy Awareness Week:
Many have asked “will Squid grow out of his milk allergy?” Here is the answer to that.
“Milk is one of the most common food allergens in children. Studies in several countries around the world show a prevalence of milk allergy in children in the first year of life of around 2% to 5%. Many children lose their hypersensitivity to milk by age 3, but some children remain allergic for a lifetime.”
Basically, only time will tell.