With food allergies in children on the rise these days it seems that being a parent just keeps getting more and more difficult. As if we don’t worry enough about what we feed our kids, having a child with allergies just adds fumes to the fire. In honor of Allergy Awareness month I consulted a very good lifelong friend and author of Food Allergies and Me, Juniper Skinner. She has been dealing with her sons food allergies for almost the past six years and I am constantly impressed with her patience, persistence, and her first hand knowledge on this crucial topic. In the following she tells us a little bit about her journey. Please stay posted as there will be more from her in the future.
“Some children begin their food allergy journey with their first swig of cow’s milk or nibble of pb&j. Our story began at birth. My oldest son, Jack, was born with little appetite, hiccups, and a knack for projectile vomiting. His first few weeks of life were one big sleep deprived blur of screaming baby and spit up in my hair (and on my clothes and on the floor and on the CAT). I, of course, ran to the pediatrician who dismissed my concerns about the spit up and blood streaked diarrhea by instructing me to give him adult Mylanta for GERD, which was “very common and I should relax about”. He said the rashes were just cradle cap, and that I should rub baby oil on them. I asked if I should use mineral oil due to the high content of fragrance in baby oil to which he replied – “I like BABY OIL”. That’s when the alarm bells started ringing. I went home and, in less than an hour of internet research, I determined that cutting cow’s milk protein from my diet was the thing to do. I began an elimination diet (removal of common food allergens) and within a week my baby became happy and healthy. And I became a huge ass hippie.
We have since learned that Jack is allergic to peanuts, eggs, cow’s milk, wheat, soy, and a few other foods. During his first two years of life there weren’t very many allergy friendly products available but boy has that changed! We now have access to cereals, bread, cookies, pastas, and other typical foods in a form that he can enjoy. This brings me tears of joy, for my boy, who once lived on breast milk and bananas. Jack’s allergies have made our entire family healthier as mainstream processed foods are literally off the table. We don’t all adhere to his diet, but as I’ve researched over the years and worked to improve his immune system, we’ve learned to eat organic, avoid preservatives and food dyes, and cleanse our lives of harmful and unneccessary chemicals.
The other side of food allergies is the need for awareness and safety. I had hovered over Jack (Epi-pen in hand) for years, and to some extent he knew that there were foods he could and couldn’t have. When he hit preschool age, it was time to get specific. I went in search of a children’s book but found myself in a very small pool of stories about animals with single allergies which weren’t necessarily the voices my child needed to be able to relate to and learn from. I took to my laptop in a flurry! My vision was to write about a child who is allergic to some top allergens and who demonstrates how that affects a child’s life. I wanted it to be simple but fun, informative but not fear-inducing, and most of all empowering! I wanted the story to be appropriate for a child who has allergies and for children who know others who have allergies and want to better understand what it all means.
Food Allergies and Me: A Children’s Book has been a true life saver. It brought awareness to my children and has been well received by the food allergy community. Having that sense of togetherness is so important when you’re so often segregated due to this type of restriction. With food allergies on the rise, our advocacy is growing and I see a lot of hope for change in the way we grow, process, and consume food. Food allergies leave us little choice in what we consume, but to those who don’t have allergies; your health begins with those choices, choose well, and live well!”