When I was pregnant for the first time (2005-6), I read the alarming data that if one parent has allergies, a child's inherited risk is between 30-50%, but if both parents have allergies, that number increases to 80%! I've got anaphylactic allergies to certain tree nuts and all fish and my husband is allergic to stone fruit, though he doesn't have anaphylaxis. My allergies have played a defining role in my life. They impacted where I played as a kid, where I went to camp, even who my parents socialized with to some extent (allergy deniers - yes, they existed back then - fell by the wayside). I watched my parents assume the position of grizzly bear while talking to waiters in restaurants. I learned to read labels and to ask questions before taking a bite. I learned how to use the epi pen by myself and to take enough Benadryl to avoid a secondary reaction. In many ways, having life threatening allergies has made me stronger. Tougher. More educated. But it's not something I wanted to pass down to my children.
My youngest (4) has not yet tried the foods that I'm allergic to, but mostly that's because I can't be near them and I can't serve them to her. She has a mild allergy to berries (hives) and cow dairy (a rash) but in the grand scheme of things given my reality, that's very manageable. I guess I've been too nervous to find a way to expose her to nuts and fish, so I really don't know if she has an allergy to those, but in time, my husband will do so. Fingers crossed. My kids have all seen what happens to me when I accidentally have an allergic reaction and while it's not often, frankly it's enough drama for our family of 5.
My heart goes out to parents who manage food allergies for their children. I was the focus of that fear as a kid and when I became a parent, I understood the other side in a whole new light. Today, there are supportive communities and helpful, widely available information that enables families to get stronger, tougher and inspired together.
According to FARE, (Food Allergy Research and Education), though any food is capable of causing an allergic reaction, there are eight foods that cause the majority of reactions. These foods are:
* Tree nuts
These 8 foods (often called the Top 8) are the cause of 90% of all food allergic reactions. I love this article from Eating With Food Allergies which has handy information on each of the allergens and great strategies for how to avoid them.
I've created a series of Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunches to showcase how families can get creative with lunch packing even while managing the top 8 most common allergens. Click the links below (I'll add more every day this week) to find options that are healthy, delicious and colorful but most importantly, safe. They're simple and straightforward. They've got tips and recipes to make things easier. Feel free to comment on any of these on our Instagram feed and let me know if you've recreated one (or part of one) by using the hashtag #lalalunchboxtop8. And of course, drop me a line if you have any questions.
Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunch #1
Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunch #2
Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunch #3
Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunch #4
Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunch #5
Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunch #6
Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunch #7
Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunch #8
Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunch #9
Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunch #10
Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunch #11
Top 8 Allergy Safe Lunch #12
You might like:
Here's what it feels like (for me, at least) to have an anaphylactic allergic reaction.
Here's why involving kids in meal planning is best
Recently we launched new dietary specific bundles in the LaLa Lunchbox app (which you can download for free via iTunes!) with allergic folks in mind!