As the parent of a child with multiple, severe, food allergies you have to rely heavily on trust. You have to trust that the ingredient label on the food you are serving your child is accurate, that the equipment that the food was made on was free from cross-contamination and that the regulations that the FDA has in place for labeling allergens in foods are safe and fair. If your child eats at restaurants you have to trust that the chef is highly trained in food allergies, that the kitchen is aware of cross-contamination and that the wait staff has brought you the appropriate meal. If your child eats lunch at school you have to trust that the table they are sitting at is clean, that they are not sharing food with other kids and that every person in the building is aware of your child’s allergies. This is something I struggle with. I don’t trust other people to feed my kid. When it comes to JT’s allergies I don’t think there is anyone else in the world who is as aware as I am, as careful as I am or as knowledgable as I am. I also don’t fault other parents for being more trusting than I am. I just can’t bring myself to get to that place. I bring food for JT wherever we go with the exception of my Parents house, my in-laws house and my sister’s house. And even at their houses, I double-check ingredients, I ask questions, I dig boxes out of the trash and if in doubt about anything I make the decision that he doesn’t eat it. I even double-check things Chris brings home from the grocery store!
I always think it is so kind when people want to make food for JT. Just this past weekend a few of my girlfriends and I were planning to get together and some of them wanted to be able to bring something that JT could eat. And I said “No Thank you, I won’t let him eat it anyway.” And then I thought “Wow, I must sound like such a brat.” These wonderful people are offering to make sure my son is included and here I am telling them NO! But the truth is, to me, it’s just not worth the risk. What if they didn’t understand all the ways that egg can hide in a list of ingredients? What if they got distracted and used the spoon that was used earlier to stir milk into their coffee? I feel like I’m not just protecting my kid, I’m protecting them. No one else understands the responsibility of feeding a child with food allergies except for their parents. And I can’t imagine how they would feel if something they made for him caused a serious reaction. Actually I can, because I’m not perfect and even though I’m the only one I really trust to feed JT, I have made mistakes. And it sucks. It feels really, really shitty to sit in a doctor’s office with your kid who’s rashy and itchy and puking and miserable just praying that he’ll get better fast and knowing that it could have been prevented. So to all of the family and friends who might offer to make food for a child with food allergies only for their parents to turn you down, please understand how much they appreciate it. If you still want to help out offer to prepare a craft, make up a food-free goodie bag or bring a fun board game instead.