Thank you for your interest in Peanut and Tree Nut Allergy Information. For those of you dealing with an allergy, I understand what you and your family are going through, because a food allergy doesn’t just effect the allergic one. It is an all encompassing lifestyle challenge. Nor does it only effect members of the nuclear family, just ask the grandma who wants to bake cookies.
I added this page to my site to help those of you new to the diagnosis and for those of you who want or need more information on the allergy. I felt lost and overwhelmed at my daughter’s diagnosis and it is my hope that this information can help you navigate this new life.
When my daughter was diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy at 17 months old, I was shocked. She had never even eaten peanuts! I was a stickler for following the American Pediatric Association guidelines for what to feed your baby and their suggested schedule. I breast fed exclusively for the first six months and continued to supplement with breast milk till she was 14 months. She never even had formula. It was her wonderful pediatrician that first suggested she even get tested. Lydia was having some GI distress and eczema but I would have never expected food allergies to be the culprit. In fact, I am a life member of the eczema club but have never been tested for a food allergy. It was never even suggested for me so I had no idea of the link of food allergies and eczema. My eczema was always explained away as contact dermatitis. Lydia’s doctor took blood and called back with the results. She showed moderate allergy to peanuts and tree nuts but not almonds, (which is good if she ever wants to eat Honey Nut Cheerios). Apparently, her initial reactions were from trace amounts of peanuts from the Stauffer’s Animal Crackers I was feeding her everyday at snack time. What a shame too, because those are the best animal crackers!
She will, from time to time, exhibit hives from trace amounts of peanuts. Our scariest reaction to date has been at a funeral reception for a family member and not from peanuts but from tree nuts. Many kind hearted church members and friends brought over food to a relative’s home but nothing was labeled. Lydia is the only one in the family so far diagnosed with a food allergy so no one else was really taking any precautions. Unbeknownst to me, the raw broccoli that I served her (which she loves) had come in direct contact with some chopped pecans, I later discovered. About an hour or two after she ate, she began to get hives and her eye started itching and swelling shut. I quickly gave her Benadryl which stopped it from progressing any further but the whelps from the hives were around for several days. We were out of town and out of our element which added to the scary factor. Plus, this was the first reaction that we had seen that severe.
When we got her diagnosis our whole world changed. A food allergy can change a lifestyle unlike many other health issues. There were places we could no longer eat together as a family and foods that we would no longer be able to share. I knew that the way that I cooked was about to change forever and the ramifications of making a mistake or of my ignorance could be serious.
Things have changed for us but we are still able to do many normal things, we eat at restaurants and still eat many of our favorite foods. Many times I need to change a recipe or omit an ingredient in a meal. Although it takes a little extra time, we check the nutrition facts of most restaurants before eating at a new one. It is also important to periodically recheck labels and nutrition facts for both packaged foods and restaurants
Now, we always alert our servers and kitchen staff at restaurants that Lydia has a peanut and tree nut allergy. Don’t feel badly that many people will have never heard of a tree nut (cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, etc.) or give you looks like you are a crazy person. This is because only 1% of the population has a peanut allergy. According to the FDA, 2% of adults and 5% of infants and children have been diagnosed with one of the eight recognized major allergens.
We do a lot of research, we read labels, ask a lot of questions and always have Benadryl and an Epi-pen on hand.
I have gotten support from friends whose children also have peanut allergies and it has been very helpful. Although each allergy is as unique as the individual, it is nice to have friends to discuss products, issues, and strategies.