Re: I am so overwhelmed! (food allergies)
Just breath. It will get a lot easier. It is overwhelming in the beginning, but it will get a lot easier. And you have already been broken in with the eggs. Thats the way we looked at- dd has had problem with dairy since birth and at 2 diagnosed with a peanut allergy- which also meant no tree nuts because of cross contamination (she is not allergic to tree nuts but treat them as if she is). Also allergic to cantaloupe, which we suspected but only had her tested for it this year, and coconut- now thats a fun one to avoid, its in most health and beauty products and fruit snacks (except Wal-Mart's brand). Anyway we had plenty of time to learn to work around the milk before the others were added.
There are actually lots of things you can buy that you don't have to worry about. I make stuff from scratch because i like to, but I also buy a lot of Wal-mart brand because they are insane about their labeling. I think they over label, but while frustrating (because I can choose another brand and it not have a warning) it makes me feel much more confident in Wal-Mart products and their labeling practices. Companies don't have to label processed on equip or in facility. Those that do, do so voluntarily. And you can always call their 800 numbers to ask about processing- I have done this several times and have even had people send me certificates of guarantee (I didn't ask, they volunteered). What kind of snacks and stuff do your kids like? I might be able to help you find alternatives- been doing it for 3 years for the nuts, 4 for the milk. Wow-butter (fake peanut butter is actually pretty good- it is made with soy, but it is made in a peanut/tree nut free facility. I have heard Sunbutter is pretty good too- made with sunflower seeds.
Schools are getting more accustom to dealing with food allergies. You will need to talk to the teachers ahead of time. Did your allergist give you an action plan for school? Some of the schools have them that you can fill out or you can print one online. It should have a pic of your LO, what the allergies are, what a reaction looks like and the procedure to follow in case of a reaction. I took my trainer epi with me to orientation for dd, but the teacher was already familiar with use- I did ask her to demonstrate for my sense of security. DD's rule- which the teacher knows- is if it doesn't have a label or didn't come from us she isn't to eat it. Our preschool parents choose snacks from a pre-approved snack list to bring for the whole class. This was something the school does automatically to minimize junk food. I was given the list and marked off things that were no-nos and then they sent the list out after. So there aren't any snacks that the parents will provide that dd can't have- as long as they are not homemade. DD's teacher has a pack of graham crackers in case someone veers of the snack list. Like today someone brought store bought cupcakes that may contain traces of tree nuts. So dd would be having her graham crackers except another parent brought in rice crispie treats. So glad she did. Parents are not actually suppose to bring in treats like cupcakes so I haven't given the school any to keep, but we will next year. I can freeze some and the school can keep them on hand in case of surprises like we had today. DD's school in not nut free, but her classroom is for her (well supposed to be, nothing will ever be unless teachers are checking every bit of food that comes in to the school). The school dd is going to next year is a public charter and we chose it specifically because they currently have kids with multiple severe food allergies. While the school in not peanut or tree nut free- they have several rooms that are and they're policy is insane compared to any of the other local schools. They are accustom to dealing with some pretty extreme food allergies.
Check with your allergist too- our has a RN whose only job is community outreach. She travels to patients schools, work, play groups, whatever to educate on safety. Its something they offer free of charge to their patients- yours might do something like this. They (my docs office) also host support groups so i'd check with yours.
SAHM to LR 7/26/07
and IHM 10/6/10
, wife to a self proclaimed genius, ex-navy guy. Going places and doing things that I always dreamed of, but never imagined I would.