I have a love/hate relationship with the last three months of the year. I love it because the weather tends to be pretty much perfect, the holidays are upon us, and it’s just the most wonderful time of the year. I also hate it because my family usually has to decline the fun events, or my husband and I have to go into super-hyper vigilant mode, which makes it difficult to enjoy ourselves. Our little boy has a severe dairy allergy. His response to dairy is an anaphylactic reaction, which can be life threatening and it can happen with even the tiniest little speck of a milk product.
With all the parties and celebrations that happen this time of year, dairy food items are all around us. Everything from Halloween candy & goodies, to the traditional Thanksgiving Day feast, to the Christmas cookie exchange, it’s a dairy allergy nightmare. Have you ever looked in the big, blue eyes of a sweet little 4 year old boy and told him he can’t have any cake while everybody else does? It’s the worst. I know that moms with kids of other food allergies can relate.
Us food allergy moms are on constant RED ALERT to make sure that our kiddos stay safe.
I quickly learned last year that I cannot send him to preschool on days that there’s a party of some sort, unless I am able to be there with him. It was during the Thanksgiving feast celebration that tragedy almost struck when a well-meaning, helpful parent plopped a spoonful of dairy-allergy-unfriendly mashed potatoes on my son’s plate. Thankfully, I was literally standing right behind him and immediately snatched up the plate before he took a bite.
Our own family Thanksgiving Day feast has been adapted to being fully dairy free. I’ve developed some really delicious DF adaptations of everybody’s favorites. I make my own cream of mushroom soup made with canned coconut milk to go into my green bean casserole. I whip potatoes with chicken broth instead of milk. Earth Balance is my favorite vegan butter alternative and I use it to roast & baste the bird to golden perfection. For Holiday treat baking, it’s Earth Balance & non-dairy milks for the win!
My husband and I have made it a priority to educate our son on his allergy, what it means, and ways he can keep himself safe when we’re not around. Even at barely 4 years of age, he has become quite the little advocate for himself. He frequently tells people of his allergy and asks if things are dairy free. He even goes so far as to emphasize how sick dairy will make him. He knows because he’s been down that road before. He also knows where his EpiPen is and we make a game out of practicing using it just in case.
While there are a lot of celebrations where we know we just cannot go, we also don’t want our son to miss out on life. So we decide very carefully as a family if we can go or not. If it’s a yes, we take all the precautions necessary to keep him safe. If it’s a no, we often talk about why and do something really awesome together instead. We want our son to feel as normal as possible and that just because he can’t have a cookie, doesn’t mean he can’t have fun.
Fellow food allergy moms, I would love to hear from you! How do you navigate this time of year to keep your kiddos safe? We are all in this together!