Managing Peanut Allergy
Speak Up About Food: With food allergies, you have to ask questions and get over shyness when someone else – from Grandma, to auntie, to a waiter, to a teacher or a colleague – wants to serve food to you or your child with this allergy.
We teach kids to respect adults and authority, but with an allergic child, it’s important to teach them not to eat foods that others offer – unless mom or dad has pre-approved or (when they’re older) unless their sure of the ingredients. For adults, get over embarrassment, be certain to ask about ingredients, and learn to do this is an efficient, confident manner.
At School: For a parent of a child with peanut allergies, sending them off to school can be a time of anxiousness.
It’s important to communicate clearly and calmly with your child’s teacher and the principal, and to create an anaphylaxis emergency plan (also called a food allergy action plan) to protect your child. Also ensure that the teacher (and other staff e.g. a coach) is receiving at least annual training on using an epinephrine auto-injector and that he or she knows where your child’s “pen” is kept.
Become familiar with the anaphylaxis policy or law in your province or state and use it to develop a plan tailored to your child.
Be sure your allergic child knows not to share food with peers and not to take food from anyone, including the teacher, unless you’ve said it’s OK.
At a restaurant: Dining out with a peanut allergy may seem daunting at first, but it is possible to do so safely and enjoyably. First, find a restaurant you trust. Call ahead to ask the manager or chef about menu items and how they handle pans and utensils in the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen. If he or she is unable to answer your questions, don’t eat there.
When you arrive at the restaurant, tell your server directly of your serious peanut allergy and discuss menu items that will be safe to eat. If you don’t feel he or she is able to answer your questions properly, ask to speak to the chef or the manager. Be mindful of particularly risky foods: sauces, desserts, salad dressing and items that may be cooked in peanut oil. Some restaurants will become off-limits: for example, an Asian restaurant that’s known for using peanuts and peanut oil in their dishes. And remember: when in doubt, don’t eat it.
Next Page: Be Prepared