Teach Them Young

As I’ve discussed before, we figured out at a very early age that Logan had a dairy allergy – maybe 18 months.  This was self-diagnosed due to symptoms, of course, but was actually proven with a blood test just before his third birthday.

Then came the shockers.

The soy and peanut allergy.

Now that Logan is about three and a half, he doesn’t remembers life with regular cheese and yogurt.  He probably remembers Reese’s peanut butter cups, but we use substitutes and it really isn’t that bad.

But when you’re in the midst of diagnosis, it really can feel like the world is falling down around you.  And if that sounds dramatic, yes, it is.  Because there are far, far worse things than living without peanut butter.  However, that first time you go grocery shopping, you’re like, “What the fuck am I supposed to feed my kid?”  (Excuse my language, but don’t tell me you didn’t think that!)

But then, you settle in.  You find substitute foods, and recipes, and restaurants.  And you breathe a sigh of relief.

But there are challenges.  Such as educating your child on their food allergies.

We made the decision to educate Logan right away.  He is three and while we hope that this is something he grows out of some day, he may not – and if he doesn’t, well, I want him to know and understand the foods he can and cannot eat, and why.  Which foods will keep him healthy, and which foods will make him sick.

Granted, right now he doesn’t know food groups, so differentiating cheese from an apple, except by sight, is difficult.  He can visually state that an apple is an apple.  He can state that cheese is cheese.  But can he state that cheese is dairy, and dairy is something he is allergic to?

Not yet.  But eventually.

So, for example, we made the English muffin pizzas.  His pizza had Daiya mozzarella style shreds, while Brad and mine had cheddar and mozzarella cheese.  The pizzas look similar.  We discussed that his cheese tastes similar, but it won’t make him sick.  Later on, he told me that my pizza would make him sick, whereas his pizza would not make him sick.

We went for ice cream.  I had frozen yogurt.  Brad had ice cream.  He had a blue raspberry slushie.  Without being prompted, he said, “Mmmm, this is good.  Dad’s ice cream makes me sick.”

Right now, it is easy.  We’re teaching him concretely that certain foods are “good” for him, and certain foods are “bad” for him, which is something I hate to do because I hate labeling foods as “good” and “bad” – but in certain situations, I guess there really is “good” and “bad”.

Eventually, he will probably rebel and choose to eat foods that he is allergic to – and thankfully he is not anaphylactic to any foods.  At that time, I’ll probably need advice for how to handle that!

-KO

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One thought on “Teach Them Young

  1. We are in the same boat with Reese. He’s 2 1/2. He knows not to eat the cheese or ice cream. Tonight at the grocery store, he wasn’t even distracted by the bright packages of the cheese balls, because he knows he can’t have them. Although he does always pick up the Butterfingers as we are waiting in the checkout line. I hope we can teach him well, because I do not want him to have to deal with the pain of getting something he can’t have!

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