About

I’m Mum to a fully paid-up food allergic, EpiPen-toting tot. Current tally: egg, wheat, nuts, sesame, chickpeas, green peas and, yep, banana. Arrrggh.

It’s early days and we’ve just started tiptoeing around this new, weird world of food allergy. Amazingly, while there are some great resources out there, there seems to be very little practical advice for day-to-day living with a food allergic child.

This blog is an attempt to share my experiences and findings about everything from allergy-friendly recipes, products and places to go to the latest news and research. We live in London so it’ll be from a London perspective but I’ll try to chuck in any other info I find.

One thing I promise is no handwringing here – it’s totally disorienting, of course, but the aim is not to let food allergy rule our lives.

P.S. In my other life I’m a former newspaper journalist turned freelance writer working from home (with baby underfoot).

Alexa Baracaia

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33 thoughts on “About

  1. toddy

    Hi, I’m finding your blog fascinating, we have allergies in my family so I’ve always weaned my kids w caution, and find it tricky but interesting alongside blw. I also noticed when my 2nd & 3rd babies reacted to stuff I ate while bfing. My close friend has a 10yr old dd who has wheat, egg, dairy, nuts, salmon, mango, strawberry, apple skin and some more. My friend herself has started developing reactions too – nuts, banana, apple, pear, stone fruit, parsnip…
    We’re in northLondon too, interesting to read your local experiences. If you are free or interested in meeting up, we both run a playgroup on Friday mornings, nr New Southgate train station.

      1. toddy

        Hi, we run in term times, including half terms, on Fridays, 9.15-11.30am, at St Paul’s church hall N11 1PN. If u come next week I may well bring some of my “binky” cakes, egg/dairy/wheat free cupcakes. As yr son has soya issues I wld use rice or oat milk. 🙂 it is my eldest’s bday on the following weekend, and her best friend has multiple allergies, and they will all be there as next week is half term.

  2. sayinie

    Hi, just found your blog via the allergy support group page! My son has identical allergies to your little one. I will be coming to the support group on the 21st. Would be realy nice to meet you if you attend.

    Sayinie

  3. Hi,
    just stumbled across your blog, enjoying reading : )
    But oh no, not bananas and wheat as well – makes me feel grateful, although we do have dairy and a few others to contend with!
    It’s been 8 years for us now and has just become a way of life – a much healthier one I think.
    Wishing you well,
    Sian

  4. Mandy Vasir

    Hello I find your blog very interesting. I am from the States and will be visitng London Dec 15-dec17, 2012. I was wondering if you might be able to steer me to “safe” eating establishments for my Nut and dairy allergic kiddos. Thank you!

    1. Hi there – so sorry for the late reply. We still tread very carefully in terms of eating out (as our toddler is just two it’s very easy to take our own food to restaurants). But I have heard good things about some branches of Carluccio’s Italian chain, Pizza Express, Zizzi’s and Pizza Hut. It’s worth checking with each of these places first, though, before diving in. I’ll ask around for you though! Alexa

  5. Toddy

    If I may butt in, my friend.always recommends Cafe Rouge and Leon’s chains, and placed like. Harvester or similar have very good guidelines and listings. Most chains have lists below the counter of ingredients, if you ask to check them before you order.

  6. Marina

    Hiya, The rainforest cafe in Picadilly Circus (not asuming Mandy will be heading for tourist traps but it is central 🙂 has a menu that is clearly labelled with all the allergens it contains and we have had relaxing meals with our allergic child there. It is very pricy though… http://www.therainforestcafe.co.uk/menus/mainmenu.asp
    Have fun in London.
    Thanks for the blog Alexa – always good to know there’s others out there with similar experiences.

  7. mary williams

    Hi Alexa
    Doubt you remember me (I used to work at freuds on entertainment stuff) since then I too have had an allergy ridden baby Poppy, who at 15 months can’t have dairy or egg. Would be much harder I totally appreciate if we were cutting out wheat too and banana but its hard all the same. Love the blog, on dairy, I’ve found she can tolerate A2 milk, worth getting if its the milk proteins your little one can’t hack rather than lactose. God, isn’t parenting hard enough already?
    Mary (Williams) x

  8. Hi I am an adult with a nut allergy and wanted to let you know that with careful management I have travelled to many countries including those with a high prevalence of nuts such as India and Thailand successfully. As one other commenter put it does become just a way of life. I also ignore labels that say “may contain nuts” on things that obviously don’t such as sour cream but understand as a parent that you apply different levels of risk to children,
    .

  9. Hi I was wondering whether you would be interested learning about MedicAlert. We help more people living with severe allergies make their allergies known in case of an emergency. As well as other hidden medical conditions. This I think sits closely with your site and wondered in you were interested in finding out more?

    Thanks
    Iain

  10. Jenn

    Hi,
    I am a nut allergy sufferer myself and would like to have my children tested – currently they are treated as if they have nut allergies by me as I can’t try them with them and therefore have never been exposed. We’re now getting to school age and I dread the prospect of my son having a reaction to something without me there, and he is too young to always identify a reaction. You mention you are having tests done for your daughter – how do these work? Are they on NHS or private? Thanks inadvance.

    1. Hello Jenn – thanks so much for your message.
      Our son sees a consultant allergist on the NHS, who tests him every six months to a year. His allergist will test our baby daughter at the next appointment because there is such a strong family history. These tests are skin prick tests, which can to some degree diagnose a potential allergy. There are also blood tests that can be done, but the most reliable method of ascertaining a food allergy is an oral challenge under hospital conditions.
      If you are worried I recommend making an appointment with your GP, explaining the direct family history of nut allergy and asking for a referral to a paediatric allergist. He or she can then conduct the necessary tests and advise you on how best to proceed…
      There is often a fairly long waiting time (I think in our borough it’s around three months) but it doesn’t sound like you are in a mad dash? We were in a bit of a blind panic as our son had already had two allergic reactions so our first consultation was private, just so we could be seen quickly. I think this cost – with tests – a few hundred pounds. Where do you live? I’m sure someone can recommend a good NHS or private allergist in your area…
      Hope this helps. Here’s a bit more info on the tests: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Allergies/Pages/Whichallergytest.aspx and the Anaphylaxis campaign is a great source of info and advice: http://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk
      Do let me know if you need any more info
      Alexa
      x

      1. Jenn

        Hi,
        I just wanted to say thank you for your quick and really helpful reply. I have booked an appointment with the GP and we will hopefully get an answer either way. We live in Shropshire so if anyone is aware of a good allergy specialist in this area I would be glad of any recommendations. It is so nice to read your blog and know there are people experiencing the same frustrations of general complacency and misunderstanding of an allergy as potentially serious as this, be it nut or other. I would be interested in doing more to bring more awareness to allergies with potentially serious implications, if there is anything I can do that you know of I would be more than happy to do what i can. Thanks again.

  11. Hello Alexa,
    My 2 year old daughter was diagnosed with a nut allergy a few months back. Initially i dealt with this quite badly and was very nervous, lately i’ve become more relaxed but then i read a story about the poor boy in Wigan and i seem to be a wreck again. I noticed you had previously mentioned a support group for famililies with children with allergies and i wondered where i could find more information about this and if you knew of any up coming events? I live in East London so anything in N16 would be ideal. I seem to have so many questions that people just can’t answer, it would be so helpful to meet other parents and children in the same situation.

    Best,
    Suzie

    1. Hi Suzie

      Really good to hear from you – so sorry to hear about your daughter; it is a huge shock at first but I promise in many ways it gets easier. I definitely found guidance from others a huge help in figuring out the best way to manage. Great to hear you’re so close by, and actually there are a few things coming up. I’ll try to email you on the address that’s popped up with your message, but if that doesn’t work then you can get me on alexabaracaia@hotmail.com
      Would love to speak soon

      Alexa
      x

  12. Pingback: My Child Has Food Allergies?! -Starting Places | feedthemsafely♥

  13. sarah

    Ive just stumbled upon your blog. Interesting read. I’ve 2 daughters- eldest 4yrs has a dairy allergy, youngest 2yrs has allergies to dairy, egg, sesame and banana (yes we too get that parrot question “and banana?”). Without doubt allergies are the biggest pain in my life. Way beyond the terrible two’s, potty training and threeanger life that I’ve experienced with the 2 girls. I am currently online in the middle of the night unable to settle my overworked brain on what the chuff am i going to feed my kids on a 9hr flight to Orlando? Now you’re going to ask why did I (&hubby, lets share this responsibility) book this holiday if the flight could not provide food to suit- answer – How was I to know that the EU regulations on listing food allergens is fine on the ground but not in the air?(ok I was aware it wouldnt be all allergen menys at 35000ft but….able to list a multiple allergen would be helpful no? After all i could choose vegan, halal, kosher et al. Allergies are not religious or lifestyle choice- it is a health neccesity. End of! So why has the lady at virgin airlines suggested to me i order my safe pick up of food from Boots or WHSmiths airside of Gatwick….she knows nothing about allergies…nor the stock at either of these stores….Chia seeds, moo free choccie bars. Boom. 9hrs on a flight. Allergies can do one.

    1. Hello Sarah. SO sorry for the ridiculous delay in getting back to you. Afraid I’ve been really slack in blogging this past year but I’m back on it, or that’s the plan. How did the flight go?? And the holiday? I hope all went smoothly. We also find flying hugely frustrating but we do go laden like donkeys with all the food for my son. It’s a ridiculous amount of snacks (and in my head I always figure in the possibility of long delays/being stranded for days etc etc). I do hope your flight went well in the end? x

  14. Sophie

    Hi,
    My now 3 year old son used to have Banana allergy but thankfully outgrew it at the beginning of this year (2&1/2 yrs).
    But to date, he has allergies to: Milk, Egg, Sesame, Peanut, Tree Nut and potentially also Chickpea and other Seeds. So quite similar to yours.
    So, I was very interested to come across your blog. I seem to spend half my life on-line researching recipes, food products and recommendations for safe places to eat/stay etc.
    & I’m very pleased to find someone of a similar mindset in all things relating to allergies and in finding positive ways to live with them. Love your list of “Idiotic things” said! Made me laugh out loud!
    Which when you are dealing with the daily impact of multiple food allergies and toddlers, you need. A lot!
    Are you still blogging? I just noticed there is not much since October 2015. I hope so as I am pleased to have found you!

    1. Hello Sophie – thanks so much for your lovely message. Sorry for the delay! Sounds indeed like your son and mine are very similar in terms of allergies. I have been really slack in blogging this past year but, yes, I plan to get my ass in gear and start again soon. Are you on Twitter? There’s quite a community of ‘allergy parents’ on there and it’s been a real lifeline for me in terms of sharing recipes/products etc… Thanks again so much for posting, I will def be up and running again ASAP x

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