/ Food & Drink, Health

What it’s like to live with a nut and dairy allergy

Nuts crossed out on chalk board

Any parent knows how tricky it is to come up with a varied and nutritious packed lunch for a six-year old. When that child has a severe allergy to eggs, nuts and dairy products, as my own daughter does, it’s even harder.

Luckily in this country we are generally well-served with products such as non-dairy cheese, margarine, ice-cream and chocolate (including Easter eggs and advent calendars) – as long as you search them out, and don’t mind paying a premium. You can even buy dairy-free mayonnaise.

We’re also lucky in the UK that we have a high standard of labelling food allergens in products. But you’d be surprised at how many products do contain warnings of cross contamination – I’ve found that even some brands of baked beans can contain traces of nuts.

An added complication is that recipes constantly change. So just because it was OK last time, it doesn’t mean it still is. Our monthly trip to the supermarket takes twice as long as everyone else as we have to stop and read every label.

One area of confusion is the wide array of warnings on packaging. As well as ‘may contain traces of…’, there’s varying warnings that indicate when nuts or dairy products are handled elsewhere in the factory, or were previously handled on the production line. There are even messages saying that although the recipe and factory are nut-free, the product may still contain them.

I often find we’re not sure about a certain product so we end up not taking the risk.

Food allergies and eating out

Having a family meal out is another test for us. Luckily most child-friendly chains, such as Pizza Express, will make pizzas etc using soya cheese supplied by ourselves. And these kinds of chains are generally very good at supplying breakdowns of ingredients. Fish and chips are usually off-limits for us unless we can be sure groundnut oil hasn’t been used – unfortunately my local chippy does fry in it.

Later this year, we’re taking our children on their first ever holiday abroad, to the Italian Lakes. The hope is that we can take soya-based butter and cheese with us on the plane, so that my daughter can enjoy the local specialities.

Most of these situations we can control, but going to children’s parties is often a worry for us. If we’re not confident that the organiser can supply appropriate food, then we’ll send some food along for my daughter. It’s hard though when she can’t eat the usual party biscuits, cakes and crisps with her friends. She’s a sensible girl and she handles it well, but it can still be upsetting as a parent.

Do you or anyone you know have a food allergy? Do you have any experiences or advice you can share with me and my six-year-old daughter?

Comments
Member

My other half is allergic to dairy and also a diet-controlled diabetic. I am dairy intolerant.

Products do need to state they are either 100% milk/peanut free or produced in a factory where these products are handled.

I wholly identify you with shopping and having to check the package every time you buy a product as the ingredients can change, but the packaging can look the same. Waitrose is guilty of this practice and do not realise how ill a person can get. We rarely shop there nowadays as they have added dairy to so many things that did not use to have it. Thai curry, meat pies, are a couple of old favourites from there.

We used to take dairy-free products on holiday with us but these days they are more readily available. I don’t know about Italy though. If you take soya spread, it travels quite well surrounded by ice packs in an insulated bag in hold luggage. You may have to declare you are taking food into the country.

You might find it useful to type a statement in Italian something like:
“My daughter is allergic to dairy/cow’s milk and cannot eat milk, cheese, cream, yoghurt, butter, etc. as it will make her very ill. Please show this to the chef.”

I use Google translator and translate it back into English to make sure it still makes sense. The word “dairy” doesn’t seem to translate that well. I also do it in bold large letters and have several copies.

I am sure you will have a great holiday.

Member

It is surprising how many people think you can’t eat eggs when you say you are allergic to dairy.

I just can’t resist an apologetic “what part of a cow does an egg come from ?!?!?.

Member
nigel soames says:
24 March 2014

I suggest you all read Rod Liddle’s article in last week’s Spectator. Dyslexia, ADHD and so called “food allergies” are uniquely anglo-American nonsense exploited by British and American children to get control over their parents and teachers. I am sorry but waiters in Italy will be completely baffled by you waffling on about “dairy allergy” because it doesn’t exist in normal countries where children eat the same food as everyone else. I have seen 11 year old English girls whose parents still cut their meat for them because they had convinced them that they were still unable to do it. It’s the same thing, it’s about control and remaining the centre of attention way beyond the infant years.

Member
Karen says:
24 March 2014

Nigel, anaphalaxis is a serious condition. When exposed to an allergen blood pressure can drop, throat can swell up and their heart can stop. They can die. According to the Anaphylaxis Campaign, there are up to 10 recognised deaths from anaphalaxis each year.

Member
claudia says:
24 March 2014

I cut food for my 10 year-old as he has serious gross and fine motor skills difficulties. He has high functioning autism. I am allergic to some antibiotics, so allergies do exist. As for Italians not having allergies, my parents are Italians and my mum had more allergies than me. What you saying is simply ignorance.

Member
Linda says:
24 March 2014

May I suggest that you educate yourself. Whilst I agree that there MAY be some people out there who play on allergies, how can an infant know to use such techniques? I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant as a toddler, and was fortunate enough to grow out of it, my husband is allergic to penicillin, a dose could kill him. My father had to carry an epi pen as he was allergic to wasp stings, again a single sting could kill him, and yes, whilst the majority of these aren’t necessarily food related, I would like to know how fish roe makes my tongue and throat swell? Do I make that up? Perhaps a quick glance at this article relating to Italians with hayfever (an allergy if I’m not mistaken) might open your mind a little. http://newsteria.com/spring-10-million-italians-began-nightmare-pollen-allergies/

Member
dairyfreebabyandme says:
24 March 2014

Nigel you are incredibly wrong on so many points, but just for your information, some of the best dairy and gluten free products currently available come from Italy!! I love Mozzarisella dairy free cheese for example and most of the best gluten free pasta is Italian.

Also, I am an adult living with various food allergies and intolerances that developed over the years. Just think yourself lucky that you don’t have any, because I am now unable to eat many foods that I used to really enjoy!!

In fact allergies have been around for a lot longer than people realise. Since I developed some of these intolerances, I have discovered that many of my family members, grandparents, uncles, aunts etc. also have had issues with various foods of which I knew nothing, until I started talking about mine.

So please do not start talking about things of which you clearly no nothing!

Member

The article mentioned by Nigel Soames is here: http://www.spectator.co.uk/columnists/rod-liddle/9157681/dyslexia-isnt-real-but-dont-worry-neither-is-adhd/

Perhaps The Spectator should vet what Rod Liddle writes a little more carefully. It beggars belief that he does not know that some allergies can be very serious, even fatal, and that even food intolerances can be very unpleasant to sufferers.

Member

Rod Liddle appears to have no qualifications to talk about many things, but, tellingly, studied Social Psychology at LSE according to Wikipedia. This probably gives him an insight into how to stir up emotions by propounding controversial theories – seemingly his speciality. So perhaps this is all the article seeks to do. I cannot imagine an intelligent person seeks to claim long-held and substantiated medical and psychological propositions can immediately be proved wrong by two researchers from Durham and one American.
My eldest son reacts badly to bananas, my wife to melon, and another offspring to cucumber – not fruits I would have thought of as other than benign.
I am allergic to this sort of irresponsible journalism, whether meant as a spoof or whether iti is just incompetent, because there are people who will believe it – and suffer the consequences.

Member
Sophia says:
26 March 2014

Re the comment by Nigel Soames, having a potentially life-threatening allergy is not the same thing as not being able to cut up your own meat. What an ignorant and ridiculous thing to say. Anaphylaxis is a very real and frightening medical condition and views like your make sufferers feel ridiculed and isolated. My son is going out this evening with his class for a meal. He is allergic to dairy and nuts. He will have to sit and have a coke while everyone else eats because the restaurant don’t want the extra responsibility. He never moans about this but he would be very hurt to read your offensive views.

Member
alan arnold says:
26 March 2014

My daughter had an anaphylactic reaction at 5 mths old, can you tell me how she could be classed as manipulative at this age. As a teenager she would love now to be able to eat anything she liked and visit restaurants like the rest of her peers but is not able to because of LIFE THREATENING allergies. To publish an article that is so inaccurate is irresponsible of the spectator and it does not help to repeat or share such articles .

Member
Mark Massey says:
1 April 2014

I and my family have many years of experience dealing with allergies.They are not imagined and people from all nations suffer from them.If you would like some practical advice to help live ,travel with them etc then please e-mail.Best wishes the Belle.

Member
Megan says:
5 November 2015

You could not be any more ignorant. I currently live in Italy, and a few months ago ITALIAN doctor’s diagnosed my son with milk and egg allergies based off of blood in his stool and a prick test. EVERY restaurant we go to they over accommodate my sons allergies, and in the service industry are very familiar with them. Please think before you become a internet troll, giving your “opinion” on something that you have not experienced.

Member
dairyfreebabyandme says:
24 March 2014

Regards taking foods on board planes, solids are OK. Liquids are more iffy. There are guidelines about what you can/not take https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions/overview

Also, The Anaphylaxis Campaign and Allergy UK have advice on their website about travelling with food allergies. I think Allergy UK’s has a link to translation cards, that you can buy in advance and take with you.

BTW Have you heard of Mozzarisella? It’s a dairy free Mozzarella dupe. I really like it on pizza. It comes from Italy. You might be surprised about what else you find there, whist you are on holiday.

Hope you have a great trip!

🙂

Member

About 25 years ago I developed an allergy to certain moulds and had to stop eating blue cheeses. The biggest problem was that even expensive muesli can contain nuts with traces of mould, leaving me gasping for breath and with a swollen throat. My GP gave me a drug and syringe for use in emergency. Over a period of five years the problem gradually disappeared. Now I can eat as much muesli as I like and might find out if I can cope with Stilton.

I wonder if anyone else has found that allergies or intolerances have changed with time.

Member

Of course this can go either way – my daughter’s allergies have actually got worse rather than better over the past few years.

Member

Thanks all for your tips – I will certainly be using the translation cards and will also keep an eye out for MozzaRisella both here and in Italy.

I’d like to bring the debate away from whether food allergies are “real” or not (although in my experience I can assure you they are very real), and back to the issues around labelling and eating out etc.

Does anybody else have any shopping or travelling tips for people with multiple allergies?

Member
Paul says:
27 March 2014

My daughter has a severe allergy to eggs, nuts and dairy products, AND wheat (which makes things nigh on impossible).

Some of the places we’ve been of note
-Finland, (ahead of the UK in free-from foods- way more choice in alternatives which we don’t have in this country yet).
-Russia, took translations cards, they just waved us away in restaurants and didn’t want the hassle!
-USA pretty good, somewhere between UK and Finland experiences.

We do though tend to self-cater mostly in the UK.

Member
Rosy says:
25 March 2014

I have a fairly severe intolerance to all the onion family (leeks, spring onions, chives etc). It is almost impossible to find food without onion, onion seeds, or onion powder these days. Even pre-packed sandwiches use it as well as many, many types of crisps. Virtually all ready-meals contain some form of onion. When we go out to eat I’m usually restricted to fish and chips! It isn’t life threatening but I’m not alone, there are quite a few people in the same situation.

Member
Marysia says:
28 March 2014

I too cannot eat anything from the onion family, but fortunately can eat garlic. I get migraines from eating onions and have seen this as a recognised trigger in some migraine literature. It can be difficult in restaurants because the staff think you’re just being fussy and lie to say the dish has no onions. Many a restaurant visit has been spoiled by this lack of understanding. I am very lucky that I have a very understanding family. Some restaurants are very good and chefs will make a different sauce to the one on the menu. I agree that choice can be very limited. It’s often better to play safe and stick with plain steaks or fish and chips. I don’t touch ready meals because, as you quite rightly point out, all contain some form of onion. I make my own curries and use apple instead of onion to give the sauce the bulk and sweetness of onion. I learnt this from a wonderful curry house in Glasgow many years ago who would make my curries to order if I rang up earlier in the day. They took me seriously! Take heart, you are not alone.

Member
Nigel Soames says:
25 March 2014

Actually I do know what I am talking about. My grandfather, a farmer in the West of Scotland, died at the age of 32 from asthma. I developed severe asthma while living in the Midlands (got rid of it by learning to breathe properly, so no longer take medication). My wife has urticaria. But these are allergies, the body’s response to a particular allergen. What you are talking about is food INTOLERANCES, which is a broad term describing a raft of reactions to various foods. In my cause, water melon makes my lips itch and swell, and jerusalem artichoke, well, let’s not go there…

To the parent of an autistic child, I was talking about a perfectly healthy girl who played hockey and computer games and was getting A grades at school. It was a behavioural problem – when her parents served up a meal she would look at her plate and say “I don’t want this”, at which point her parents would say “do you want to swap?”, she would then inspect their plates and then take one of their (identical) meals!

Of course Liddle’s article is provocative, but it makes a vital point. ADHD, dyslexia and “food allergies” are not single medical conditions necessitating a diagnosis and course of treatment. They are catch-all terms that cover over a whole range of personal and dietary problems, real or imagined. The drugging of young children with Ritalin is obscene, frankly, but people congratulate each other on having found the “diagnosis” and the “treatment”.

As far as food intolerance is concerned, it is clear that today’s children are paying the price for the two previous generations growing up eating crap. In the UK, the (real) food industry was destroyed by WWII and rationing, after which everything came out of a tin or packet. Can’t anyone see that there is something seriously wrong if today’s children are unable to eat the foods (nuts, dairy) that the human race has been eating for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years?

“Diagnosing” food intolerance as a single “condition” is sweeping the issue under the carpet rather than getting to the bottom of the issue.

As for ADHD, as Liddle says, offensively and crudely (but accurately – Jamie Oliver can back this up): “Give the kids a proper diet rather than drugs, [Saul] argues, try not to feed them an almost continuous supply of brown, deep-fried, fat-soaked, filth. And look after them properly — read them Auden and Eliot and get them working on Fermat’s last theorem. A refusal to pay attention is not a disease, not a medical condition — it’s a character flaw, and one which could be stamped out given the necessary willpower from the parents.”

Deep down, we all know that this is true. We just don’t want to admit it, because it means that we have failed to give our children a proper social, alimentary and educational context in which to grow up.

Member
alan arnold says:
26 March 2014

I am not sure why you are talking about dyslexia and ADHD within this context . Yes food intolerance and allergies are slightly different problems but the original article you quoted did not make this distinction and neither did you. Mark wrote a valid piece about how coping with a child with food allergies was hard and you replied to that by stating that food allergies do not exist and the child was manipulative quoting an article that is inaccurate and dangerous because someone may read this and decide on the strength of this article to give an allergic child something that may kill ,in the last few days a 12 year old died after eating a curry with nuts in them. I hope you are not suggesting he was manipulative.

Member
Jo B says:
26 March 2014

Mark, I am adult with severe peanut allergy and a frequent traveller. As far as the nut allergy side of things goes, Italy is relatively straightforward in most cases, but still watch out for groundnut oil as it is used in some areas. I can’t comment on the dairy.
I highly recommend buying some translation cards from a company such as Yellow Cross. You can order online and will get cards for use explaining the allergy in restaurants, and also a card for use in emergencies to explain the condition (hopefully this will not be required, but useful to have just in case). I have had very few problems using these all over the world, including in places like Hungary and Japan where I know absolutely nothing of the language.
Nigel, I don’t think you fully understand the condition being discussed here. This is not a food intolerance or, as you seem to suggest, fussy eating, it is a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis that results from an adverse reaction to proteins and other chemicals in certain foods. Take a look at the Anaphylaxis Campaign website (www.anaphylaxis.org.uk). It is a serious physiological condition that is well differentiated from food intolerance. Trust me, I wish it was not the case that I could die from eating a small trace of peanut – having to carry injection pens around wherever I go and ‘be the awkward one’ every time I travel or eat out are really things I could live without!

Member
Clare says:
26 March 2014

I am cabin crew flying long haul with anaphylaxis to nuts and sesame.its a real
Challenge I always try and talk to the chef or if the waiter understands just him in restaurants I try
And stick to food that is most unlikely to cause a reaction.avoiding buffets salad bars
And places that English isn’t spoken too well. I did have an app with translations
But it has disappeared from App Store and there isn’t another one as good.on flights
I take my own food.always worth asking on a flight if there are any international crew of
Where you are going to translate your allergies for you too

Member
natalie says:
26 March 2014

My son has lots of allergies wheat, dairy, soya, fish, nuts, eggs, grass, pollen, dust, dust mites, fethers, animals & cleaning products. He has 4 different antihistamines & epi pens plus meds for he skin & asthma. This is a very hard to control & shopping is a nightmare. Hes 9 but but has shown no sign of growing out of his allergies yet!

Member
dee says:
26 March 2014

My advice to you would be to not let your daughter see that you are anxious around food. Obviously its important to make sure that she is aware of all the hidden dangers. My 14 year old daughter has a severe allergy to all nuts and also allergy to ,peas,pulces,sesame seeds,leather,chrome,dust mites,animal fur. She also suffers from asthma and eczema. My daughter went into anaphylaxis shock when she was 8 years old and it terrified me as at the time I didn’t know she had any allergies and had previously had food with nuts in it. My daughter has now got a fear of food and will go through ingredients over and over again to check them. I feel responsible for this as I was very anxious around food after she went into anaphylaxis shock even though she always has epi-pens on her at all times and also piriton. It concerns me that she dosnt have a varied diet as she tends to stick to what she knows is her safe foods and is wary for trying anything new. She is getting professional help with this though but I won’t lie it still worries me. I wish your we girl good luck and hope she has a happy healthy future ahead of her.

Member

I think that’s good advice about not showing our anxieties. We try hard but it’s such a fine balance to make a six year old aware of the danger without giving her that fear of food that you mention. The same goes for the epi-pen – she knows it’s ‘medicine for an emergency’ and that she needs to carry it everywhere but she’s not really old enough to know exactly what it is.

Thanks to everyone else for your great advice too.

Member
dee says:
26 March 2014

When my daughter was in primary school I had her wear a we bumbag with her epi-pen inside it so it was on her at all times. I had to do this because when she went into anaphylaxis shock literally within seconds her tounge,face,lips, started swelling and because she has really bad asthma her airways were closing and it was just the quick thinking of the receptionist of doctors that was on the phone to 999 they sent a paramedic on motor cycle to inject her and he said she was a very lucky we girl because by the time the ambulance arrived it could have been a whole different senario I think this is why I have become so overly protective and anxious and now my we girls suffering the consequences of the way I’ve behaved around food she’s picked up all my fears and signals but were both on the mend now its all down to good education on allergies and knowing what to look out for also looking out for latin names in cosmetics and things you would never have considered before. I would recomend you get her a medic alert bracelet as well as these can be a great way of giving you a little peace of mind should she go on a trip with the school or family,friends.

Member
Sarah says:
26 March 2014

I have just been diagnosed with OAS following a blood test – eating particular raw fruit and veg (cherries, apples, pears, red peppers) will result in anaphylaxis. The blood test also showed an allergy to cows milk – I wondered why my mouth felt so itchy after eating a bowl of cereal!

I wish this was in my head, but unfortunately it is all to real for me. I avoid eating out, and have to wear gloves if I’m chopping tomatoes, pears and yellow onions.

I have been prescribed antihistamines, but I have chosen not to take them, and have instead researched into nutrition, using the paleo lifestyle / clean eating recipes as my baseline.

My allergy has slowly progressed over the last 4 years and I have no idea why. It is a nightmare!

Member
Claire James says:
26 March 2014

Hi Mark, our wee boy who just turned 7 is anaphylactic to cows milk, eggs and nuts and I have similar experiences and concerns as you expresses. School dinner hall, impromptu baking at school, flying, parties and eating out can bring anxieties. Would be great to share good ideas etc, I have supplied my email address and hope you can access it.

Kind regards.

Member
Paul says:
26 March 2014

My Daughter is now 8 years old, and she has been carrying EPI-Pens, Antihistamines and Asthma Inhalers for many years. First diagnosed with multiple severe Allergies just after we ‘attempted’ to ween her by using Baby rice at a few months old (it was contaminated by cows-milk unfortunately).

Not long after, she was medically diagnosed via food challenges and a few mishaps as being severely allergic to Dairy, Eggs, all Nuts, Spinach and Wheat.

She has taken food challenges every couple of years since about the age of 2, to see if there are any signs of a reduction in the effect on her. There has been no reduction, in fact some have gotten worse. Food challenges are not fun for me as a parent and even more painful and distressing for her.

Eating out at restaurants is basically a no-go, if we are lucky then we can find a pub which will cook meat and veg for us in order for us to have a family meal! Birthdays, friends Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, school fayres, cooker classes etc are always a time of anguish for her as she feels different to everyone as cannot join in the same way as everybody else. We were told by various consultants that home-schooling should be seriously considered, but we decided against it after meeting with pre-schools and primary schools in the area, so far so good (though she doesn’t like her picture being up in various places with warning signs, and the fact that her presence means there is extra hand-washing in the class!). Lunch boxes are the only way, and I am sure she is pretty bored of the limited options for the lunch box.

Anybody who thinks Allergies is not a real condition and can be utilized in some way to gain something is obviously quite ignorant, similar to the person who really thought they could use hypnosis to rid my child of her allergies “as it’s all in the mind”, even if there was an iota of truth to this, how would this be the case for a Baby.

I’m often quite annoyed by people who say they are allergic to something or intolerant of something when it is quite blatantly not the case as can be seen by what they continue to eat, or they just get a rumbly tummy, or have no medical diagnosis to back things up. Some people are able to get pizza’s, bread and milk for their ‘intolerances’, She however, (whilst I do not require any state assistance) is offered nothing via NHS Prescription for my child.

Any how, she’s an incredibly healthy child (something to be said for a diet that bars you from a lot of junk and processed food) and while things are tough, at least she’s under my watch, it’s when she’s a teen that I will start to really worry more!

Member
Lou says:
29 March 2014

Hi, my son has a mixture of diagnosed ige allergies (nuts sesame, pine nuts, grown out of egg allergy) all confirmed by an immunologist at a top children’s hopsital. He is also intolerant to gluten and dairy which worsen his gastric reflux and since giving them up his eczema has disappeared. It was first helped by removing gluten but went completely when we removed milk. I discussed gluten with the immunologist and he was challenged for wheat since it showed slightly on a skin prick but he passed the challenge and was told to reintroduce it. When we did he begged for one of his reflux medications mid-sandwich (he is on 4 different meds for reflux and it persists because he was born with a diaphragmatic hernia which means his diaphragm is weak and predisposes him to reflux). He alkso wouldn’t sleep and was hyper. I left it another couple of weeks and tried again with the same result.and a third time. I told the immunologist that despite no medical evidence through skin prick or rast tests of an allergy clearly wheat (and also gluten from other gluten grains – barley and rye ) are problematic for him. He said it would be necessary to test for coeliacs but that he had to eat wheat for 6 weeks. As I had a child begging for medication (he wasn’t even 3!) And suffering from hyperactivity and sleeplessness each tim we have shelved testing for coeliacs unti much later as I cannot have a child who suffers so much suffering for 6 weeks. So no medical diagnosis but I have to take this very seriously in case it is coeliacs and he has to live as a coeliac, consuming no gluten in case he has it. We don’t get any prescriptions either for free from food. I see this from both sides as my son has properly diagnosed serious allergirs but also intolerances. His milk intolerance is not medically diagnosed either, but when you child goes pale after consuming something with cream in, looks floppy and vomits an hour or two later you question whether this food is suitable. His reaction to milk and cheese was much more subtle, but taking them out of his diet immediately improved matters. I have recently had his calcium levels checked and they are fine as I have carefully researched calcium sources. Anyway my point is that I wish people with severe life-threatening allergies would not have a holier-than-thou attitude to food intolerances. Food intolerances are clearly not life-threatening, but they are just as real and valid a problem as if he is ever glutened there are consequences lasting for 48 hours or so. These are much less severe than a life threatening event but they are valid as it is miserable. No one seems to be able to give us a definite medical diagnosis but would you give your child a food that stopped them sleeping, made them hyper and uncontrollable and made their reflux flare? I suspect there are other symptoms but he is just too young to tell us. My son certainly does not manipulate me through food. He’d love to tuck in to what everyone else was and I wouldn’t be spending double on gluten free flours and pastas if it was unnecessary. As I say I see it from both sides as he has severe allergies and intolerances and I see them both as an equally real issue.

Member

Lou – I appreciate that you cannot get free prescriptions for your son, but I hope you are taking advantage of the prescription prepayment certificate, which limits the cost to £104 per year.

Member
Lou says:
30 March 2014

Sorry think you have crossed wires. As a child under 16 his precriptions are free for all his meds. I meant unlike a medically diagnosed coeliac who get prescriptions for “free from” products, he doesn’t get them as he is not medically diagnosed. Nor do any children of allergies as Paul was saying in the post that I was responding to. He was pointing out thayt some people get prescrptions for “free from foods” suggesting those with intolerances do but as far as I am aware it is just coeliacs who get prescriptions for their bread etc if properly diagnosed. He was seeming to suggest people with intolerances also receive these scripts but coeliacs isn’t an intolerance but an autoimmune condition where the body attacks itself when gluten is consumed. Years ago gluten free food was not readily available and I think it was available on prescription to give people access to staples such as bread. Now supermarkets are flooded with these items but I think there are more things on preription than can be accessed through the supermarket. They are pricier than wheat counterparts so I guess giving them out on prescription is to aid keeping them well – their medicine is effectively gluten free food. However As an asthmatic reliant on my inhalers I sometime wonder why diabetics get free scripts and asthmatics don’t as both are reliant on their meds. However I think with coeliacs gluten free product scripts they still pay the prescritpion charge but I might be wrong. I could have my son tested but I don’t want to put him through 6 weeks of hell. Even if he isn’t coeliac he isn’t tolerating gluten so why bother. It is easier to eat naturally gluten free foods and have pastas etc occasionally.

My main point was to counter his suggestion intolerances are some kind of bandwagon and not comparable to allergies. Whilst they aren’t lifethreatening, they present real problems daily for sufferers and coeliacs, an autoimmune condition, is very serious in that continuing to eat gluten damages the body and can lead to cancer, infertility, malnutrition etc etc. People who use intolerance as an excuse to manipulate their diet are a nuisance and give both allergies and intolerances a bad name.

For my son, avoiding the food for his allergies and for his intolerances is just as important in keeping him healthy and thriving. I place equal importance on both, but no one is lifetheatening and one creates very pleasant symptoms (and is potentially coeliacs as we are untested so he has to live as a coeliac in case). He is not a fussy eater and eats the same as us except of course he has to avoid his allergens / intolerances. I have brought him up on fresh produce prepared by me and am doing the same for my baby who really enjoys fish, potatoes and vegetables the most but is tucking into chicken casseroles, lamb hotpot etc – he will be 8 months next week. Avoiding the fussy eater is by giving fresh foods from the beginning I believe and I also think it is important to structure meal times, milk feeds, snacks later when they are introduced and not allowing grazing between meals and proper snack times. A hungty child will tuck in. It’s hard in the beginning balancing milk feeds with solid meals but I believe it helps them not become fussy and I believe my older son is not fussy because we have given him a variety from the word go and I get around his allergies /intolerances well and not let them stop his enjoyment of food.

He has a good relationship with food and does not fear it, but rightly questions it and is trained not to accept food from anyone but me. We holiday in this country as I love British hols and camping in our trailer tent so we take our own safe environment with us. I have a. Four burner hob, grill, fridge, freezer, halogen oven so I can prepare fresh food when away or reheat meals I have cooked from scratch and frozen before the hol. We don’t eat out often because it is a headache and I enjoy cooking. I don’t wish to take him to another country as with his medical history of diaphragmatic hernia and exomphalos (bowel and liver developed outside tummy wall in a membrane), and current medicaton etc etc I just feel it is too much to take on board. Other parents of children with the conditions do venture abroad, but having seen him close to death 3 times in his first 6 months, I think I’m happier with being within reach of the nhs. We holidayed mainly in Britain in any case prior to his birth. I’ve grown up with british hols. But I think these ideas of allergy cards etc are excellent and something to bear in mind should we travel abroad or should he travel abroad in the future.

Other things we do – parties, mostly I provide the substitutes of the same but we have met one play centre that safely caters.

School – we priovide ingreds for baking or say if making gingerbread, I made the dough at home for him with him and sent it ready to roll and cut out with my own baking sheet to avoid x-contamination. He has allergy buddies who sit either side at lunch and know not to touch his food or offer him anything. (Their idea)

Sorry I’ve spent some time off topic but hopefully my last set of ideas are of some use

Member

You are right Lou. I do have my wires crossed. I have never understood why some conditions qualify for free prescriptions but others requiring continuous medication do not.

I do hope your son will go on to lead a normal life, even though he will have to be careful about eating out. You should be very proud of your efforts.

Member
Fiona says:
26 March 2014

Having almost died five weeks ago after being wrongly informed about ingredients in a pub I can assure anyone who is wondering, that anaphylaxis and severe allergies are very real. Intolerances are not the same thing and should not be mentioned in the same context as the association is dangerous for people with severe allergies.

– Mark, as a 27 year old who has had a severe peanut allergy all her life the most important piece of advice I can give you is to let your 8 year old be her own caregiver. By that I mean she is responsible for carrying her epipens everywhere and she assesses (with your guidance obviously) whether she can eat something. Unfortunately she will have to miss out on treats at parties and restaurants etc but have a safe alternative with you or promise to buy it after.
– Become expert risk assessors – bagged lettuce and packets of bacon with may contain nut trace labels are highly unlikely to be dangerous but any sort of cake is.
– Buffets, Asian restaurants, bought baked goods and desserts are a no-go. My rule of not eating at establishments where there’s peanut somewhere on the menu has kept me safe (ironically one of the few times I didn’t live by that rule I ended up having a serious reaction)
– Accept that the side of effect of precaution and responsibility is that your daughter will grow up a little too fast and probably suffer from some anxiety as a result, but that is better than her being flippant about it a few years down the line. (A lot of deaths that do occur are teenagers who cannot care for their allergy appropriately)
– As a family discuss what woud be the sequence of events if a reaction was to occur (hopefully quick decision to use epipen, use epipen (and blue inhaler if she has one), call to 999 and trip to A&E). The ability to react decisively and calmly is equally as important as being prepared with an Epipen.
– Eat out as much as you want, but have something written down where possible that can be brought to the kitchen with your order. I have been doing this since my last serious reaction and find it’s taken much more seriously that a ‘chat’ with the waiter.

At the end of the day severe allergies do definitely reduce quality of life but there’s lots of things worse so it’s important to keep it in perspective and don’t let it define her youthful existence. Keep safe and keep smiling and she’ll be fine!

Member
LCH says:
26 March 2014

My son is also six. He is allergic to milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat and yellow split peas. We carry Epipens, antihistamine and his inhaler. With regards to birthday parties while the mum hosting is often keen to provide goodies for him I always pack a box of safe food (for buffets) if it is a catered party at a soft play I phone in advance to ask if they can feed him safely. My son is so far unconcerned about having different food as long as his is suitably sugar laden. I can reccomend Elizabeth Gordon’s books for cake recipes free of the top 8 allergens.
We have not travelled abroad with him, we holiday in the uk and always self cater. I’ve heard Disney have good info and support for allergies at their parks!
We do eat out, he sticks with plain food, grilled chicken, gammon or steak with chips and beans or veg usually. I bring dessert with me so he can have a chocolate treat rather than fruit salad or jelly while his sister is eating brownies and ice cream.
Supermarkets are a minefield. I noticed some new kinds of free from pasta in a store yesterday, same packaging, same ingredients but the new ones could contain nuts. Head office said they must be from a different supplier. I’m surprised I’ve not been asked to leave for swearing at the free from aisle when I find something free of eggs, milk and wheat and it says could contain nuts.
For school activities I try to provide a similar alternative for any food activity.
I saw mozzarisella mentioned earlier. It’s pricey but yum!

Member
Paul says:
26 March 2014

Swearing at the free-from isle – feel the pain there!

The whole “…may contain…”, “….cannot guarantee..” etc is a massive problem, and effectively bars 95%+ of the items in the free-from section.

Thanks for the reference to Elizabeth Gordon’s, does this book have recipes which are free-from multiple allergens, this is where most things fall down for us?

Member
Gemma123 says:
14 April 2014

Yes, Disney in Orlando are fantastic at dealing with peanut allergy and will bring the chef out to speak with you! Been there several times, partly because it is easy and reassuring. Italy, however, in my experience has been much more problematic due to almost every restaurant using peanut oil for frying and also even in pizza dough…

Member
Jo B says:
26 March 2014

Mark, I couldn’t agree more with the people suggesting you keep it in perspective for your daughter. I was diagnosed when I was eight and the specialist was a little heavy handed and made me think my life was effectively over. He told me I could never eat anything my parents hadn’t made for me, and I envisaged never being able to go to parties or go on holiday ever again. My parents made sure that instead I learned to communicate the allergy to friends and their parents, and we succesfully negotiated foreign travel and eating out throughout my childhood. They never pretended it wasn’t serious or shielded me from possible consequences, but they trained me to deal with it sensibly in a way that allowed me to live a mostly normal life.

Member
LCH says:
26 March 2014

Elizabeth’s books are free from Gluten, dairy, soy, nuts and eggs. They are American books so I sometimes have to be creative with the ingredients but I’ve had great success with her recipes.

Member
Kate says:
26 March 2014

My 8yr old daughter is allergic to egg, dairy and nuts and we’ve travelled to France, Spain, Canada with no issues. We take spread/milk but send them in the hold. For the plane, we try to take food as I’ve found the vegan flight food isn’t that appetising to a child. We always take packs of biscuits as these can be difficult to find in France. We learn the phrases in the relevant language. It an be really frustrating when she can only ever have very limited choices so we often self cater. We’ve recently skied with mark Warner and they were great, loads of choice.

I’ve never had any issues on flights (other than rubbish food), i used to carry a letter from my Gp so I could take milk on board.

Nigel – your response demonstrates how little you know about serious allergies so perhaps you should refrain from commenting in the future

Member
Kate says:
26 March 2014

I have a daughter with dairy, nut and egg allergy, and my experience as a mother has been that with the best will in the world you cannot trust anyone else with the preparation or serving of the food she eats. Everything she comes into contact with is checked, and mistakes are still made.
We never ate out as a family when she was young, we tried a few times, at infant school, I checked with the school every item that would go on the plate for Christmas dinner, I even provided the turkey as I was unsure what the basting was on the school turkey, I checked what the potatoes were roasted in and that the veg was plain boiled, when hers was being dished up a dinner lady without thinking put a dollop of mash potato onto her plate by mistake, she became unwell, she said that she thought she would be allowed it as everyone was making a special effort to include her. Holidays were spent in this country, self-catering, with my usual repertoire of tried and tested meals. I used to carry snack foods around with me, a ham sandwich, crisps, in case were hungry while out as we were never able to pop into a bakery, or a takeaway. Although there was always Mcdonalds chips an a coke! Weddings – I used to meet with the chef, find out what they were cooking and create my own similar dish and nip into the kitchen put it on one of their plates and microwave it and then take it out to her, I never liked handing it to a waiter in case he would have any reason to touch the dish with contaminated hands! We did the same for her prom. We went abroad a couple of times when she was a teenager, but only ever self catering. As an older teenager when she was invited to weddings or dinner dances she would choose to eat a portion of chips before arriving and sit at the table without eating and just join in the conversation, the meal was only one part of the evening, the dancing was always the best bit, and her friends knew and understood that. The thought of taking a mouthful that had been contaminated, the tell-tale tingle that she had started on a journey of no return, taking the epi-pen, calling the ambulance, spending the next 6 hours in hospital with the horrible feeling that her body has been taken over by some horrible being, was jus a risk that she wasn’t prepared to take.
She is now 21, has moved into a flat with her boyfriend, a completely allergen free flat, they eat out only when it is a friends party and there are more places now that do food she can eat, she researches them well, if she is unsure she will refuse to eat and just sit and socialise, her boyfriend will also not eat so he doesn’t pose any risk. She has a fridge full of fresh meat, veg and fruit, when I used to bring home a new dairy free yoghurt or pudding, quite often she would refuse to even try it, she is now in complete control of what she eats and has a much larger repertoire of dishes than I ever had. I think the thing we must remember is that the allergic person may not be so interested in new foods, new tastes etc as they may be a bit wary, and see eating more as a means of necessity, they may gain pleasure from general socialising, where as those of us that can eat anything enjoy eating out. My daughter never understood why she had to have dairy alternatives such as soya cream and cheese, her argument was that she never had it in the first place so why did she need to replace it, we may enjoy those tastes but why would she. I am very proud of her, she has been allergic since she was born, and is likely to remain so, but she is healthy and in control,

Member
Claire James says:
26 March 2014

So good to read your experiences and we are very very similar. My son is 7 so I will learn from your daughter now being 21. We do the exact same at weddings and the odd occasion we do eat out with our son, I take his pre cooked at home dinner with me. He has a support worker at school who sits with him at lunchtime to make sure no yoghurts or cows milk comes near him and he only eats his packed lunch. I take in baking supplies to the school and at kids parties he arrives with his own party box of food and I stay to make sure he ok. Our holidays too have all been self catering in the uk. I was wondering how you got on with general socialising? We find that now we have unintentionally withdrawn a bit from friends get togethers. Reason being they all evolve around food and we feel incompatible at times. Did you experience this? Kind regards, claire

Member
kate says:
28 March 2014

You need to do what is right for you and your family, good friends will understand and make allowances, we always asked that there would be no dishes of nuts, if there were we wouldn’t go, generally we would take our own food for our daughter, and we would not really eat, we would always play down the food. We used to host more parties, than we were invited to, and I would make all the food ‘Ruth friendly’

Member
Dawn says:
26 March 2014

Food labelling and the awareness of restaurants have moved on so much over the 17 years I have been shopping for my daughter who is allergic to nuts, milk and eggs. It’s so much easier now, thank goodness. Just last week we found a coffee shop with nut-free and vegan cakes so she could have a cake and a soya latte – she was nervous and overjoyed at the same time to be able to be ‘normal’. The translation cards are a good tip – I used to make my own. Good news is that after 17 attempts I can make a pretty good birthday cake for her. As for the idiot that says we’re imagining it, you should have been in the back of the ambulance any of the 3 times my daughter was rushed to hospital while having a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction!

Member
Nigel Soames says:
27 March 2014

Me again, the “embodiment of satan”, as far as most of you are concerned…

In 1975 I collapsed and nearly died of asphyxiation while walking to school 20 minutes after being given a “hayfever jab”…my lungs had filled with liquid in response to the jab.

In 1984 I was hospitalised in North Africa due to a critical asthma attack…

In 1995 we rushed our 4 year-old daughter to hospital, her body over 50% red and bloated with urticaria (potentally fatal if it reaches the throat) after playing on grass sprayed with chemicals.

So I am not an idiot and I do know what I am talking about.

So why am I so opposed to the prevailing “wisdom” about food “allergies” (intolerance, call it what you will)?

By the age of 30 I was on the maximum dosage of asthma inhalers – becotide twice daily and 4 – 5 doses of ventolin. My asthma was getting worse and the next step was powerful oral medication.
I simply could not accept that doctors regarded this cocktail of toxins as “treatment”, and could not offer me anything else.

I spent five years trying various things with varying results (acupuncture, herbs, soya diet etc.). In desperation I signed up for a breathing course (Buteyko, ask your GP, works for other allergies too.).

The result was striking because I came off the ventolin within 3 days. The becotide I stopped after a month. What this proved to me that although not exactly “in my head”, asthma was deeply rooted in my psycho-emotional system and was not an irreversible medical condition. Since then I have always tried to look beyond the symptoms of health problems and to identify the real causes.

There are two things that emerge from several of the comments above:

ANXIETY – parents projecting anxiety onto their children and vice versa about their “food allergies”.

Think about this: as I said before, it is simply absurd, and unacceptable, that the current generation of human beings should be unable to eat two of the foods that have nourished us for thousands of years – nuts and milk. Did hunter-gatherers keel over with nut and berry allergies? I doubt it.

That is why parents of these children, rather than encouraging mutual hand wringing, must refuse to accept the glib medical diagnosis of “food allergies” and look for the real cause of these problems (the severity of which is not in question).

I don’t have the answer, but I do know this:

All the coeliac sufferers I know are, to put it politely, rather highly strung women (in one case mother and daughter) from rather chaotic and tense dysfunctional families where “the next meal” was an uncertain prospect, if at all, and probably came out of a packet. Anxiety again.

Which leads me to my second point (and back to the original topic of this article):

FOOD LABELLING

If your children suffer from “food allergies”, then why in heaven’s name are you BUYING FOOD IN PACKETS AND JARS???

I consider myself the luckiest man alive, because (having been raised on the UK post-war diet of Smash, Nesquik, and Angel Delight) my wife grew up in North Africa; her family (and everybody else) simply bought fresh meat, fish and vegetables and bread from the markets and made their own food. We still do. It takes some organisation but there is no reason why you cannot do this in the UK, the supermarkets are excellent.

In my personal experience, in countries where people eat real food that hasn’t seen the inside of a factory, and children are raised to eat the same food as their parents in a regular, structured, environment, food intolerance/allergies are simply unheard of.

I suspect that the answer lies somewhere therein…

Member

Nigel

Allergies are specific to the individual and I don’t believe that you can generalise. A relatively small number of people have serious allergies that could be life threatening, and I am not surprised that you have attracted criticism.

To suggest that serious asthma will disappear if you pay attention to how you breathe is questionable. Like many others I have found this helpful when coping with asthma attacks but I don’t think you will find many who have had your experience. May I suggest that the reason that you have been able to give up taking medication is because of you have unknowingly avoided allergens or for psycho-emotional reasons as you suggest. I don’t know why I suddenly had a serious problem with blue cheeses and muesli, but the problem gradually disappeared. Maybe the same happened with your asthma.

There are plenty of good reasons for cutting down the amount of processed food in the typical diet. That is not going to happen tomorrow, nor are we going to live our lives without stress.

Member
Nigel Soames says:
27 March 2014

p.s. we live in South west France now. My daughter, like her French friends, eats anything and everything on offer here (to the horror of her pals at uni in Newcastle, her favourite treats are foie gras and oysters washed down with a glass of champagne (or the affordable Spanish equivalent, Cava). I have to thank my wife and her ruthless culinary approach for this.

Member
Nigel Soames says:
27 March 2014

@wavechange – I didn’t get rid of asthma by “changing the way I breathe”, I paid out of my own pocket to go on a week-long course to completely re-educate my breathing. This treatment is now promoted by many GPs. My wife still forces me to do the exercises in the evening because it stops me snoring too!

As for cutting down the amount of processed food in our diets. I am saying you need to ELIMINATE processed food, not cut it down. Why isn’t it going to happen?

Seriously, are you saying parents are happy to hammer on about their kids having to go around in fear of death, armed to the teeth with epi pens, inhalers and antihistamines, but are not prepared to radically change their family diets and eating habits??

If that is the case, then there is little hope for them, and I feel sorry for the children that are the innocent victims of this.

Member

Nigel

Some people make a point of avoiding processed food, and one of the problems is that it may contain ingredients that cause them problems. I don’t see much chance that the majority of population of the UK is going to eliminate processed foods from their diet any time soon.

A lot depends on what you regard as processed food. For example, there are various ways that we treat food to make it last longer or remain available out of season. Potatoes are treated to prevent them sprouting, apples and citrus fruit are often sprayed to keep them ‘fresh’ for longer, and the fruit industry makes extensive use of ways of both delaying and accelerating ripening. We also have irradiation of soft fruit to delay fungal attack. Sulphur dioxide has been used for many years to preserve dried fruit and wines. Bread, which is not often regarded as a processed food, can contain a variety of additives.

Many claim that food used to be safer, but what about the use of nitrites and nitrates that have been used in curing meat for many years. I’m not sure if these feature in food intolerance but they produce carcinogenic nitrosamines when heated.

I’m all for cutting down on processed food and it is certainly best not to trust them if you have a serious allergy.

Member
Nigel Soames says:
27 March 2014

I have to tell you this – not allergy-related, but it’s at the root of the allergy/intolerance problems:

When my daughter was about 10 we lived in Edinburgh and she brought a pal home for supper. We were aware that in this girl’s house the parents/nanny had to cook 4 different meals each time because each child would only eat one thing – one ate only sausages, one ate fish fingers and so on.

Anyway, we serve up fish (cod or haddock, nothing exotic) baked with mash and vegetables.

The little girl looks at her plate and bursts into tears. “I… can’t… eat.. this!”

THAT is how bad things are in the UK and THAT is why people have food-related problems. The parents tolerate and even encourage this ludicrous behaviour from their offspring. It’s time to get a grip, folks!!!

Member
Paul says:
27 March 2014

Hmm. That is eating disorders, This topic is not about that.. It is not the “root” of the allergy problem or cause of their increasing prevalence.

What should I have done with my child at 3 months who had her first anaphylactic reaction when she was fed something other than breast-milk for the first time?

Tell her off, hypnotize her? lol.

Thank you for bringing Buteyko to my attention!

Member
Nigel Soames says:
27 March 2014

I disagree. It IS at the root of food allergy problems because it is the beginning of the unbalancing/disruption process. That girl may never suffer from allergies in her lifetime, but I suspect her children probably will.

When very young children have severe reactions to food, in the absence of other exogonous factors, I suspect it relates to what their parents were brought up on and/or eat now. That is where the research should be focusing to get to the root of this problem.

We weaned our daughter off breast milk on to pureed vegetables (including garlic!) and then started adding in fish and meat – what we were eating ourselves, basically.

When she was 6 months old we tried to feed her a jar of some Heinz baby crap because we were out on a picnic. She swallowed one spoonful and then vomited it up straight away. Clearly her stomach was able to identify it as “not real food” and rejected it!

Member
Paul says:
27 March 2014

Processed food intake,and historical processed food intake by the parents, atleast our case is not a factor. We’re 60s and 70s kids, brought up on good produce – fish/meat/fruit/veg, avoiding processed food – which we continue to do.

We don’t have any food hang-ups, allergies, intolerences.

Member
Lou says:
29 March 2014

Nigel, I hear what you are saying about processed foods! I weaned my son just like you on vegetables then meats and baked my own bread etc etc. However he has ended up with allergies and intolerances. He is lucky to be alive as he survuved a diaphragmatic hernia (50 per cent survive it). I have eaten nothing but freshly prepared food for years and felt aggrieved people who smoke, drink and eat mc ds bang out seemingly healthy children while I, eating nothing processed and having never had a mc ds in my life had the child with the lifethreatning defect. So as this involves his bowel and his lung I felt I owed it to him to feed him a clean healthy diet. Yet he suffers from gastric reflux (since before he was weaned as a consequence of the hernia and repair when he drank breastmilk, he has developed asthma and latterly intolerances. He could take milk and wheat at first but I started to observe issues with these later on. I don’t know why. But I have my suspicions it is somethiing to do with the flu jab and of course as a baby undergoing two surgeries (as his diapjragm reherniated, he had loads of antiobitoics and meds to sedate him whilst vnetiliated. I give him the best diet I can and always have but yet it didn’t stop him developing allergies to cashews, pinenut and sesame. It can’t just be down to processed food or hiughly strung mothers. Vaccines, antibiotics, and other things I think play their part. I am interested in trying to change breatjing for my own asthma and my son’s. Thank you for alerting me to that.

Member

Lou – As far as I know, diaphragmatic hernia (unless caused by injury) is generally a genetic problem, so it relates to our genes rather than diet and medication. Gastric reflux is a very common condition and is often caused by hiatus hernia. Surgery is complicated, so the problem is best treated with the minimum quantity of drugs needed to relieve discomfort.

Antibiotics have been greatly overused in the past few decades but vaccines have come in for a lot of unjustified criticism. Before we had vaccines there were many fatalities at an early age. Flu (rather than a severe cold) can be very serious particularly for those with respiratory problems. I have not seen any evidence that the flu vaccine could cause allergies or intolerances.

Member

Hi everyone – I’m glad that Mark’s post has generated a healthy debate! And I’m glad this has become a place for those who have been affected by food allergies to make a comment.

Nigel – I appreciate that you’d like to share your thoughts about whether food allergies exist or not. However, I think you have now made that point and I’m worried that people who would like to share their stories and tips with Mark are being discouraged. Please can I ask that we move away from this particular discussion and back to the subject that Mark hoped to get feedback on. Thanks.

Member
Nigel Soames says:
27 March 2014

@Patrick Steen at Ground Control – I did not say that food allergies do not exist. I am saying that they are often mis/overdiagnosed and that that while the medical profession has come up with emergency measures to prevent the worst happening, little effort is being made to get to the root of the problem, and that parents are – and I will get shot down for this too – actually conniving in the process by writing purportedly “helpful” but actually very unhelpful articles like this one, which encourage the status quo rather than challenging the food and medical industries to do something about it.

For example, according to Harvard Dr Nicholas Christakis writing in the British Medical Journal:

“We don’t see this problem much in African American or poor communities. So there’s something going on here. We don’t see them in Ecuador and Guatemala,”

Also, a study of Jewish children of similar demographics and genetics in Britain and Israel found that the British kids were 10 times more likely to have peanut allergies than the Israelis.

This is what needs to be investigated to ensure that what is looking increasingly like an epidemic is reduced back to what it used to be, a rare medical incident about as likely as getting struck by lightning. And kids can have normal birthday parties again….

Member
kate says:
28 March 2014

Good debate and some interesting reading, but to get back to the point, I assume you are self catering and you have checked their are adequate cooking facilities, many hotels that offer self catering as well only provide a kettle and one hob! Check with the airline what you can carry in the cabin and what you can take in the hold and take as may of the staple luxurys you can like dairy free spread, milk, we used to take dried super noodles etc, take your translation cards and research all associated words on the internet, along with pre translated phrases that you may need if a reaction occurs. When abroad and also in this country try not to make such a big deal of eating out, and if unsure – don’t, as a parent as my daughter got older I found the quest to intergrate her into what we wanted to do a fruitless exercise that caused anxiety all round, try to focus your holiday on activities that don’t involve food, family holidays always caused me a lot of stress, being away from my own kitchen and familiar shops and the heightened level of alert we were on, trying not to deprive our other children of tasting the local gauge made holidays my own personal nightmare. We have come out the other side now, my other children enjoy holidays with their friends, my daughter enjoys her holidays as she feels no need to eat out and can cook to suit herself, and my husband and I can go on cruise and have all the food provided and cooked for us, I still feel guilty when I eat foods that I wouldn’t have eaten before, I always ate the same as she did, while my husband would try new foods with our other children. So to conclude, do as much research as you can, but if unsure don’t eat out and try to focus your holiday on being together and other activities, rather than on dining out, dining out and putting your trust in someone else is not a pleasurable experience for a highly allergic child.

Member
kate says:
28 March 2014

…or a parent!

Member
Karsam says:
28 March 2014

Hi, I was diagnosed with ‘Lactose Intolerance’ in 1982, The first case in N.Ireland. I never heard of it untill my Consultant confirmed it. I was always unwell after eating, anaemic, tired, and I had lost alot of weight. I also can’t tollerate soya, nuts and the onion family. There is a huge differance between an ‘intollerance’ and an allergy. In my case I am missing the enzyme ‘Lactase’ which breaks down the milk sugar ‘Lactose’, which simply means I can’t digest lactose. This is found in milk, cream, whey, soft cheeses and yoghurts. Hard cheeses e.g. chedder and parmasen, and good old butter do not contain lactose, as when they are finally made the lactose has been digested and used up through the fermentation process.Whith an allergy you get an immediate and possibly a life threating reaction to the allergen e.g. nuts or a bee sting, so you must avoid these and always carry an ‘Epi Pen’.
Generally a milk allergy is caused by the milk protein ‘Caesin’ and probably the reaction is differant to an intolerance
I also have to spend ages shopping as I have to read the labels and ingredients carefully before I buy. when I go out to a restaurant either at home or in another country I choose 2 or 3 meals I like the look off and then ask the waiter/waitress to check with the chef if they contain milk/cream.I very rarely can have soup and/or a sweet. I have got so used to it now that I expect to be very limited in my choices.What disappoints me the most is that people with ‘Lactose Intolerance’ are not catered for, though people with ‘Cealiac Disease’ are. Also chefs and food manufacturers seem to put milk/cream into most things, even foods(Christmas cakes, puddings and mince pies) that never had milk/cream in their original receipe! It just makes me want to scream!

Member

Karsam – You are right to distinguish between intolerance and allergy. Sadly the terms are often used interchangeably.

Lactose intolerance occurs where an individual does not produce sufficient lactase to break down lactose (milk sugar) in the diet. Most sufferers can tolerate a small amount of lactose, so they might be able to eat other dairy products if they avoid milk or buy lactose-free milk – which is ordinary milk that has been treated with lactase to decrease the amount of lactose present. I suspect that the producers are making a very good profit on this. 🙁

Milk allergy (to casein or other milk proteins) is quite different from lactose intolerance and a much more serious problem. Dairy products must be excluded from the diet.

Member
Gerry says:
28 March 2014

My wife has coeliac disease and severe shellfish allergy. We have given up going to social events such as club dinner-dances because of the number of times my wife has suffered from inadvertent gluten intake in spite of the caterers being warned previously and reminded on arrival at the function that she cannot take gluten. When eating in restaurants we inform them when booking and on arrival always provide allergy cards asking for them to be handed to the chef.

Recently, when eating in a Michelin starred restaurant my wife queried whether a dish was gluten free. She was very firmly reassured it was and that the chef had been particularly careful. After she had eaten some of it another waiter caming running from the kitchen and told her not to eat it as it contained gluten!

On another occasion when eating in a Good Food Guide recommended restaurant, warned as usaul, we observed the Chef on the pass, when plating up for one guest at our table, handle fish in oyster sauce and then proceed to handle my wife’s steak without washing his hands. To make matters worse it was clear that when the Maitre’d passed on our concerns the Chef was clearly resentful at having to cook a replacement.

Our experience has been that in restaurants we have learnt to trust the chefs can adapt dishes to make them gluten free. However, my wife never eats any fish dish away from home in case there has been contamination by shellfish at the wholesaler or fishmongers. She always carries an Epipen and an antihistamine injection.

We believe food allergy is badly taught at Catering colleges and in chef training. 1% of the population suffers from sea food allergy.

Member

Hi all, we’ve rounded up some of your comments in our latest allergies post: https://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/your-view-living-with-allergies-and-anaphylaxis/

Member
Ruby Z says:
5 April 2014

What has worked for me, I printed things that my daughters friends can read n explain way is important to keep her safe. we don’t do to many b-day parties because my daughter is deadly allergic to peanuts ,milk, and dogs…I also took my daughter to the library n checked books out with allergies

Member
Jill says:
8 April 2014

My son has a nut allergy. Luckily friends and family are really good at checking labels and making things he can eat. However (understandably) people who don’t see him as often forget. I have some ‘nut free zone’ stickers which I put on his packed lunch as a gentle reminders for his carers and he sometimes wears them to parties etc again as a reminder to the adults. At only 3 years old he loves wearing stickers anyway. Regarding labels, the ‘may contain traces of nut’ phrase drives me crazy! We wouldn’t put up with a beef burger saying ‘may contain traces of horse meat’ or a veggie meal saying ‘may contain traces of meat due to manufacturing methods’.

Member
Sandwich Labels says:
2 July 2014

The Labelling Industry is constantly edging the limits of technology by making it more simple and affordable than ever for small businesses to print their own food labels whilst abiding by all the rules and regulations that surround the topic.

In the new version of Label Direct (label design software), users can compile a database of allergens so that when they are entered into the ingredients field, they are automatically made bold or italic, making them stand out for consumers.

Label Direct software and information about it can be found here – http://printonlabels.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/unique-bespoke-sandwich-labels.html