SO TODAY I have a small piece in The Times’ Weekend supplement, ‘Life With My Allergic Toddler’, about the pain in the arseness of trying to shop, cook and cater for a food allergy tot when everything you try to buy ‘may contain’ this that and the other. (Here’s the link. It’s a shorter piece than originally intended but I’ll post the full and unabridged soon…)
Meanwhile, this morning I headed out to the supermarket to buy ingredients for a Sid-friendly cheesecake (recipe also to come). And instantly proved my point.
Sainsbury’s Organic double cream? “Not suitable for nut allergy sufferers”. Silver Spoon icing sugar? “May contain traces of egg.” Sainsbury’s ‘Free From’ digestive biscuits? “May contain nuts”. Three separate shops later and I think we finally have what we need. Minus the cheery disposition I may or may not have had when we started…
7 thoughts on “‘Life with my allergic toddler’”
Thought provoking piece. As a father of two girls under 4, parenting can be stressful, worrying and difficult at times and our two do not suffer from allergies per se. My thoughts are with you and best of luck.
Really interested to see your piece in the Times. Our 9 year old son is allergic to wheat, rye, dairy, egg, nuts and sesame and has had a couple of scary anaphylactic reactions as well as lots of more minor ones. I completely understand the frustration of food shopping when his staple foods (oats, rice, lentils) say “may contain wheat or nuts”. It does feel a bit like playing Russian roulette! Until this year, we didn’t eat out and only had self catering holidays. Then we had a tip off about Mark Warner holidays. They cooked all of his food fresh for him and were absolutely fantastic. Needless to say we’re going back this year!
Incidentally, our younger son has no allergies at all, so hopefully your little girl will also be allergy free.
Amazing to hear about places that can cater for multiple allergies – they are few & far between so thanks for the top tip! Good to hear your littlest is allergy free, too – we’re hoping. And fingers crossed your son shakes off at least a few – thank you ever so much for reading and posting. Be great to hear any tips/thoughts you have along the way. Resources for allergy parents are scarce so advice from fellow families is invaluable… X
Good luck! I remember finding out that my eldest son had multiple allergies when he was about 5 months old (starting with egg!) and thinking that I’d never be able to let him out to friends houses/parties, etc. but it really does get easier. For a start I did not take any notice of the “may contain traces of nuts” signs; I feel they are there purely to cover manufacturers. I only read the actual ingredients and avoided nuts (plus various other things – his potato allergy is greater than his wheat allergy!) if they were listed. I have to say I wasn’t impressed with the consultants or dieticians we met during those early stages though. He is now 16 and over the years I have rarely ever told other mums about his allergies, he copes just fine, knows what he can have, and stops eating at once if he gets any sort of strange sensation in his mouth (which is very rare). We ditched the epipens years ago, although did renew the prescription for a recent trip to Australia to appease my mother’s worries. I’m proud of what a confident, well turned out young man he has turned out to be despite these allergies and how well he has managed! Congratulations on your new baby – I had another two boys after Matt and they don’t have any allergies.
I have a dairy/egg/nut allergic son and we find Waitrose a godsend. Unlike Tesco they seem to keep unhelpful ‘may contain’ labelling to a minimum, and as long as I explain what I need I don’t have any problems at the fresh counters – they know me too well now! All this in the wilds of rural Suffolk. We’re actually about to brave a trip to London this weekend (which is how I stumbled upon this blog) and I’m frantically trying to find anyone other than Wagamamas and McDonalds who can reliably cater to his needs and prevent my usual panic breakdown every time he eats food I haven’t personally prepared.
Hello there – thanks so much for your post. I have to confess we have yet to order in restaurants and cafes for Sidney but anecdotally I’ve been told that Zizzi and Carluccio’s are both good at catering for allergies. I’d love to hear your thoughts following your visit. Hope it all goes well!