Grandchildren and Food Allergies
It’s almost time for Thanksgiving and many of us will celebrate with our children and grandchildren. When family members have food allergies we need to be extra careful about the ingredients we use and the food we have in our homes that is accessible to little ones.
Three of my grands are toddlers and one of their favorite places to explore is my pantry. Anything on the lower shelves is subject to disappearing when the grands are over. Just the other day I found a small jar of crushed red pepper and one of dry mustard in my bedroom floor. I don’t think the dog is guilty.
Just because a child has food allergies doesn’t mean we should ban them from the kitchen. In fact, children love to help nana cook. With some planning and safety precautions all grandchildren can be included in the joy of cooking.
Some Allergies Are Worse Than Others
As grandparents we know that when we are having small children over we need to child proof our homes, but some grandparents have to allergy proof their kitchens and pantries. For a child with severe food allergies it can be a matter of life and death.
Grandmother Kathy Breneman whose granddaughter has peanut allergies shared that once her granddaughter had a cookie at a church picnic and her throat started closing up.
Another NanaHood friend, Sarah Traywick Garrison, has a grandson who is very allergic to eggs and he once lived them . Sarah said, “We could scrabble eggs in the kitchen, and upstairs in his crib, his eyes and throat would swell!
Foods that are made with products that children are allergic to are a big problem. Sarah says, “You can’t imagine the things with egg in them – BBQ potato chips and root beer, for instance.”
One NanaHood friend wrote that her granddaughter had Celiac disease. I didn’t know what it was but it is a problem some people have with foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a type of protein. It’s found in the grains wheat, barley, rye, and triticale (a wheat-rye cross). When you have this disease and you eat food with gluten in it, the gluten triggers an immune response that is not normal.
Ellen Smolen says, “My 4 year old granddaughter has Celiac, so label reading is a must when she is around. She is also allergic to dairy. It can be nerve wracking for me because she can’t have anything with maltodextrin either.”
Tips for Nana
Family get togethers should be fun and stress free but when children have food allergies there may be hidden dangers in our homes. Here are some tips for grandmothers who may be cooking for little ones with food allergies.
1. Clean out your refrigerator. It probably needs it anyway and if you do it before Turkey Day you will be sure you don’t have anything in there you shouldn’t.
2. Check your pantry for items children can reach. Remove any that are harmful or that they are allergic to.
3. Plan your menu and go over it with your grandchild’s parents. They deal with food allergies on a daily basis and can help make sure what you are cooking won’t trigger any reactions.
4. Research your grandchild’s allergy. The more familiar you are with it, the less likely any accidents will happen. Knowledge is power.
5. Make sure all family members and guests who will be attending your Thanksgiving dinner are aware of your grandchildren’s food allergies. You don’t want a friendly neighbor feeding your grandchild a Snickers bar if they are allergic to peanuts. In fact, you don’t even want it in the house. Some children are so allergic that just being in the room with nuts is dangers.