There has been a lot of discussion over the past decade about the significant increase in food allergies amongst children in the United States. Working in schools during this time I can attest to the dramatic growth in diagnosis, change in school policy, and, not surprisingly, increasing anxiety for parents of children managing a food allergy. Parents have shared strong and varied opinions on topics related to allergies, such as whether nut free tables should exist in cafeterias, and many schools and school districts have moved to a blanket nut-free policy.
StrongTots was formed organically out of a desire to foster a community for anyone navigating the toddler years, and as we find ourselves with an energetic, boastful, toddler who has a number of serious food allergies we couldn't resist sharing what we've learned from our experience. After a number of severe allergic reactions and many smaller reactions, I can now say that I am one of "those" parents. You know what I am talking about...one of those parents:
What we have learned through our experience is just how difficult it is to find information that can help us plan and organize for our new lifestyle. A lot of what we have been doing over the past year has felt like trial and error, which isn't a nice feeling when you are talking about your child's well-being and overall health. We are eager to grow a new cohort around food allergies within the larger StrongTots community and consolidate resources in one place. Our hope is that parents and caregivers will not feel as overwhelmed and frustrated as we have.
We would like to start by sharing some resources that have helped us thus far:
1. FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) - a wonderful website full of educational information, tools for managing every day experiences, and print outs to guide food preparation. An impressive organization supporting the community FARE has been involved with everything "from the passing of legislation involving food labeling and access to epinephrine in schools, to the development of invaluable educational resources and awareness materials, to major research breakthroughs."
2. Living Without (Magazine) - This fabulous publication includes simple and delicious recipes adjusted for many different allergens. Purchasing a single copy will get you a wonderful cheat sheet for ingredient replacements and a subscription will bring wonderful recipes to your doorstep each month. The website also provides a variety of resources for free and offers support as you navigate a lifestyle with food allergies.
3. NxtNutrio APP - Available on both iPhone and Android, this powerful app allows you to scan the barcode of food items and view product ingredients. You can set up a profile and after each scan receive a green, yellow, or red symbol to purchase, caution, or alert you of harmful ingredients. The company website has a variety of resources, including a blog and list of recipes.
I do not know how I will respond to our son's situation in the future. For now, there is anxiety about exposure and reactions in many situations. I struggle with how this influences our son's overall development and what impact it has on our older son as he observes and asks questions. I hope you will find the resources helpful and that you will consider engaging in our ongoing dialogue on this topic. Some topics we plan to explore include:
Please take a moment to share topics you would like to learn about or comment on resources that have helped you navigated the world of food allergies.
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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Based on a work at http://www.strongtots.com