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When it comes to Summer, aside from the warm weather and pretty flowers, my favorite part is cooking out with friends and family. Since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, however, I look at barbecues a bit differently. Instead of seeing a delicious spread of potato salad, coleslaw, and chips, I see unknown cooking surfaces, mystery seasonings, and cross-contamination risks.
May 11-17 is National Food Allergy Awareness Week. Nearly 6 million children live with Food Allergies— That’s one in 12.
Those of you who follow the Lauren's Hope blog may recall me writing earlier this fall about my six-year-old daughter, Julia, and how she was recently diagnosed with a chocoalate allergy (specifically, a cacao allergy). When I tell people Julia is allergic to chocolate, the most common response from adults is something completely reasonable and calm like this: "Chocolate? She's allergic to chocolate?! I would DIE." So, I've learned to phrase it differently, especially when Julia is within earshot. I say, "Julia is allergic to chocolate, and boy, removing it from her diet has made her feel so much better! And she's trying lots of great new flavors now!" or something similar, and that's helping my daughter stay positive about it while giving adults the cue that I'd appreciate them doing so too.
So a few weeks back, I had my six-year-old daughter, Julia, tested for food allergies. She's always had a bit of a weak stomach, and I'd noticed it was worse when she had chocolate, but then she'd drink chocolate almond milk every day (a switch we made after she showed herself to be a bit lactose intolerant) with no problem. So I just wasn't sure: Is this a dairy issue? But she eats cheese just fine. Is it a chocolate issue? But her granola bars have little chocolate chips and she's never had a problem. Is it some additive or processed ingredient? What about those completely-devoid-of-redeeming-value orange fishy crackers and Cheeze-Its that always make her vomit yet which she continues to eat when I'm not around to remind her not to? Is it the "cheeze"? I couldn't quite put my finger on it, so in we went for the blood work.
Let's skip over that part, because if you have a kid and have experienced a blood draw, you know that it really, truly is more painful for the parent than the child 90% of the time. So we did that.
For many children and teens, going back to school or heading to "Meet The Teacher" events is a bit intimidating and overwhelming. Kids feel nervous or anxious about a new school year, and for shy children in particular, those first few weeks of learning new names, places, and people can be truly challenging. For children with health care concerns such as Type 1 Diabetes, food allergies, asthma, or chronic illness, this can be harder, as even confident teens are often uncomfortable simply walking up to a new teacher and saying, "Hi. My name is Sally, and I have a peanut allergy." That's not the first conversation they want to have, even though it's such an important topic. They don't want to be defined by their diagnoses or thought of as, "The Diabetic Kid." Their health care status may not be information they want to share in front of other people right away, but they do need to communicate it to the teacher.
If there's one thing Kansas City is known for (aside from gorgeous medical alert jewelry, of course!), it's barbeque! With Memorial Day coming up next week, followed by three months of sunny BBQ and picnic weather, we've got grilling on our minds over here at Lauren's Hope. Planning a fun BBQ takes more than just knowing Dad's secret steak rub recipe or finding out Mom's secret potato salad ingredient. It takes planning.
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