Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Do You Help Your Food Allergic Child Resist Temptation?

Food allergies are tought to deal with. Especially, when you are trying to protect your child. Munchkin is allergic to peanuts. She's young enough that she mostly just accepts it if I say she can't eat something. But I know it will get tougher on her, and me, as she gets older.

Besides the obvious difficulties (she has to avoid certain foods and she will never eat Moosetracks Ice Cream) are the emotional difficulties. Eventually, she will feel different because of her food allergy. Eventually, she will feel restricted by her food allergy. Think about it. It's your first date and your so nervous you can barely eat...but, you have to make sure you go to a restaurant that doesn't cook with peanut oil and then order something that has no possiblity of being contaminated with peanuts. That's a lot of pressure when you're trying to keep up a conversation with the amazing creature who turns your brain into mush!

And then, many people around your child will try to convince them to eat the food they are allergic, too! It's crazy, I know. But for some reason, people don't believe that food allergies are serious and they try to get you to eat what you shouldn't. And they poke fun of you for your diet. This happens to me a lot. It's not mean-spirited, but it would be tough on a young child and harder on a teen.

If you're wondering how to help your child deal with food allergies, here is a great comment I found posted at BabyShrink. It was written by Margaret Evans of Dynamic Choices.

Addressing food allergies and sensitivities is worth every minute you spend figuring out how to do it! I am a nurse, a life coach and a mom of 4 grown children who faced these challenges. Their health, their happiness and their behaviour were transformed when I removed the offending foods from their diet.

They did follow the diet through their school age and adolescent years and continue to make healthy choices in adulthood. How do you do it:

1. You make an unwavering commitment to it as a mother and resist the temptation to give in.
2. You connect to what you value and what is important to you and this is what you focus on when the going gets tough. You do the same with your child.
3. You help your young child to role play the various experiences she might come up against so she has a repertoire of answers for other people’s questions and comments
3. You create delicious and healthy alternatives so your kids don’t feel deprived. There are loads of resources out there to do that. Giving them carrots sticks won’t work!
4. You enlist their participation in cooking and in creating alternatives for birthday parties etc.
5. You offer empathy for their circumstance and give space for their feelings but you don’t allow them to turn it into a long sob story. Everyone has challenges so help them find the resilience to manage theirs. This builds life skills that stretch far beyond the issue of food.
6. Find support. It might be your friend, your mother, or someone else in your kid’s class facing similar experiences. This topic is now very common in the world so find someone to talk to.

I have loads of experience and wisdom on this topic and am delighted to share it. Please check out my website at http://www.dynamicchoices.ca for some downloadable ideas. Print off the signs and symptoms sheet and see how many things on the list you tick off! I coach people one on one and in groups to identify the offending foods and to remove it in a way that is successful in the midst of their busy life.

How might your life and the life and potential of your child be different if you removed that offending food in a positive way?
I challenge you to be creative and find the way to do it - your child’s health and happiness will be profoundly impacted.

Margaret Evans R.N., B.S.N., C.P.C.C.