How To Help Your Child Cope with a Food Allergy

Depending on your child's age, there is a lot you can do to help your child cope with his food allergy. Empowering him to take charge is important. Here are steps that can help you do that.

  1. Educate your child. Teach him about his allergy. Make sure he is knowledgeable about ingredients, his reactions, and good foods for him to eat. Teach your child about cross contamination and hidden ingredients. You will not always be there to help him navigate so teach him to do it himself.

  1. Make your child read food labels. Take your child to the store and have him read the food labels.  Encourage him to choose new foods to try.

  1. Get your child in the kitchen. Teach your child how to cook for himself. It is important for him to know recipes he can use everyday and also learn how to cook new recipes. Show him how a once-forbidden dish can be eaten with only a few tweaks of a recipe in your own kitchen.

  1. Plan ahead. It can be useful for him to pack foods to have choices on hand on trips or at school. Get him involved by having your child prepare the foods with you.

  1. Don't plan ahead. Sometimes planning ahead is not an option. When you teach your child to spot foods he can eat in restaurants and convenience stores, this can really help him be more independent.

  1. Make your child speak up for himself. When in a restaurant, have him tell the waiter about his allergy. You can back him up and make some clarifications, but having him talk about it in this context will help your child help himself when you can't be with him.

  1. Inform your child's principal and teachers. They can help you take the necessary measures to keep your child safe at school. Don't think that just packing your child a lunch will keep him safe. Class parties and other activities often involve food. Talking to the teacher will keep you informed and will help you plan ahead for your child.

  1. Talk to other parents. Letting your child go to his friends' houses can be scary. Inform the parents about what they can do to help your child. Tell them about good places to take your child to eat and easy foods to have on hand. Empower your child to speak up and say what he can and can not eat.

  1. Join a support group. Meeting other children with the same allergies can help your child to feel less isolated.

Getting your child into the real world to face his allergy head-on is key. Teach him not be afraid. The more knowledgeable he is, the easier it gets. Also, he will have the tools to cope with his allergy well into adulthood.

 

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