My child has a food allergy…now what?

The road to diagnosing a food allergy can be a long and scary one. Getting the official diagnosis can provide a lot of answers, but also be daunting as it sparks new questions as well. So where do you start? What should you consider? If you're just beginning down the path of understanding how to help a child with a food allergy, and you are looking for your next steps, here are some tips to consider as you get started:

Have an emergency plan

The most important step you can take is to have an emergency plan in case there is an accidental exposure. Having a plan takes care of a lot of the unknowns. You are able to list out exactly what you need to do and it prepares your child for what they might go through as well. The Food and Allergy Research and Education organization has an example of what an emergency plan might look like.

Teach your child about their allergy

If your child is old enough to read food labels, teach them how to read the label to find things they need to watch for. Have them practice explaining their allergy to you so they can explain it to others. Something to keep in mind is that kids can't always express themselves the way adults do, so check out this list of phrases a child might use when having an allergic reaction.

Talk to people in your child's life

Talk to the adults who spend a lot of time around your child, such as daycare providers, preschool and school teachers, coaches/ extracurricular leaders. Describe the symptoms of their allergic reaction and give them a copy of your emergency plan so that they know what to look for, and what to do in case of exposure.

Find support

Utah Food Allergy Network is a local organization dedicated to advocating for support and change regarding food allergy awareness in the state of Utah. They host a Facebook support group where members can share concerns, talk about issues they're facing, and receive overall support.

Having a food allergy usually means that the whole family is changing their diet. It can be hard to find safe swaps that everyone likes. Kids With Food Allergies has a page full of recipes that allows you to search for recipes by filtering out one or more common food allergens. They also offer ideas for food substitutions, and you can also submit your own recipes to share with others!

For more information

FDA - Food Allergies: What You Need to Know

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

FARE Network

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Monday, 16 May 2022

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