Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Egg Allergy in Young Kids

I could write a book on food allergies, but I won't. I will just stick to small articles and blogs. Both of my kids, several relatives, and many clients suffer from food allergies. This is a topic I wasn't too familiar with 6 years ago, but "wow" has 6 years changed what I know. I have given the long details in a previous blog how both of my children began having food allergies as small infants. I breastfed and refrained from eating what they were allergic to. There was limited choices of formula, only elemental (Elecare (R) and Neocate (R)); they were expensive, and I knew that breastfeeding was the best choice. So, if I had to eliminate these foods from my diet, you can imagine how much investigating I had to do initially. Now, I have so many recipes and know what can and can't be cooked.

Living with egg allergies means no flu shots or yellow fever vaccine (if severe allergy, no MMR shot), certain desserts are eliminated, and no country breaskfasts being served. My daughter's egg allergy used to be so bad that we couldn't even cook them in our home because her eyes would swell up just from the aroma. Now, she is still allergic but not as bad. Living with egg allergies also means that my kids aren't going to eat cake at another child's birthday party. I plan ahead and make a "special" cake. I use cake mixes that are egg, dairy, & nut free and sometimes also use the ones that are gluten free. Actually, the vanilla flavor ones are not too bad, whereas the chocolate ones require acquiring a taste for it; I spit out the chocolate cake the first time I bit into it 5 years ago at her 1st birthday party. Now, I can swallow it but am not gung-ho about it. So, I just usually buy the vanilla flavor that tastes similar to muffin mix. If your child only suffers from egg allergies and not others, you can most likely buy a regular cake mix and just use a substitute. Eggs are the binder, liquid, and leavening agent of the recipe, so the substitute needs to have those qualities. One suitable substitute is flax seed oil. Another is using 1 tbs of vinegar with 1 1/2 tsp of baking soda (or 2 tsp baking powder, but make sure it is egg-free) in place of one egg. Some of the nutrients found in eggs can also be found in meat, fish, poultry, legumes, grains, vegetables, and hemp products. I give both of my children various vitamins, probiotics, and cod liver oil everyday so they can get the nutrients they are missing out on because of food allergies. They also drink a hemp beverage which also contains calcium.

Living with egg allergies is manageable once you know what you can and can't eat. I teach both of my children to never take food from someone else and ask "Did my mommy say I can have that?". I drilled the staff at my daughter's preschool about only letting her eat from her lunch. It meant at holiday parties she didn't eat what everyone else ate, but "oh well", I just brought her "special" snacks. My son is too young to understand, but I am working on teaching him too. Any babysitter or relative that takes care of my kids knows not to vere from what I asked them to feed my children. Sometimes the person didn't listen which meant a dose of benadryl or a shot of epinephrine. But we have survived. Once you get a grip on what the child can have, you realize there are actually a lot of good foods and recipes out there. But it also means less trips to fast-food joints or restaurants; you never know if foods with eggs were cooked on the grill or oil vat, which means cross-contamination. One good source on food allergies is http://www.foodallergy.org/

My daughter is supposed to go to the allergist this week and get retested. She gets re-tested once a year, and has already grown out of nut and soy allergies. Cross your fingers for us that she grows out of the remainder of the food allergies including eggs!

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