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Hi, I'm looking for restaurants in San Francisco able to accommodate a toddler with a serious peanut allergy. My two-and-a-half year-old niece will be visiting this summer with her family, and her well-being is a primary concern. Your recommendations are greatly appreciated! Auntie Elle
1. NO vegetarian restaurant as most of them load the dishes with nuts, beans and or peanuts as a substitue for high quality protein.
2. No South East Asian restaurants, especially Thai and Cambodian. Vietnamese dishes use peanut as garnish very often.
3. Always tell the waiter your niece is severly allergic to peanut. Make sure he writes in down on the order - NO PEANUT. Most restaurants are very familiar with the allergy. This is also important training for your niece. You are showing her how to ask these questions and that it is important to ask. Our allergist told us the most difficult time for kids with food allergy is when they enter the teenage years. When peer pressures kicks in, a lot of good judgements go away.
4. Stay away from the thick sauces and gravies. They may have peanut butter in it as their ''secret'' ingredient.
5. In general, we find ordering from the grill at Japanese restaurants the safest. A side order of grilled salmon or chicken and a bowl of plain rice usually keep our son very happy.
6. ALWAYS bring the Epipen when going out with your niece.
Enjoy your time with your niece. She is lucky to have a caring aunt. annon
We just found out last week that our 2-year-old son has peanut and tree-nut allergies (particularly cashew and almond). This was based on skin testing, and the biggest reaction was to cashew. He is also allergic to fish and egg, which we had observed already. So far all of his reactions have been hives immediately after eating (sometimes while eating), but we've never knowingly given him nuts so we don't know what his reaction would be. We were prescribed 6 epi-pens and told to avoid all nuts, and read labels for shared equipment with peanuts and tree nuts.
How can we know whether he just has skin reactions or whether he will some day go into anaphylactic shock from sitting next to a kid with a PBJ sandwich? As much as I hate to become neurotic about this, I do need to protect him, but it feels like going overboard to ask his future preschool to go nut-free when we don't know how severe his allergy is (and most allergies are not life threatening). The allergist took it very seriously with all the epi-pens, but also said there was no way to know about severity of his reaction. He said nut-free policies don't really work and we need to focus on making sure he doesn't come into contact with other kids' food, and that children learn this pretty quickly. I have purged nuts from our house and am reading every label on everything I buy, and wondering how my some-day teenage son will carry his epi-pen around without a purse... Any advice from other families with nut-allergic kids? How do you know how severely allergic your child is if they've never eaten nuts? Going nuts
It's all very overwhelming but we live in a good place as far as allergy knowledge and tolerance. emge
You may not know how bad your child's reaction is going to be, but you don't really ever want to find out. You need to tell the preschool, anyone who cares for your child, anyone who prepares food for your child (friends, relatives, restaurants - everyone). Even if you've told them before, remind them. If you leave your child with someone explain the syptoms of a reaction and tell them how to use the Epipen. Never hesitate to use the Epipen. It is important to catch the reaction before it cascades and your child is in real trouble. After giving the Epipen, take them to the ER right away. They might look OK, but they still need additional care. The Epipen buys you time to get them to the doctor. Children's Hospital has a great handout on food allergies. You might consider getting a copy and giving it to the school and anyone who cares for your child.
The precautions are a total pain, and you can feel like a pest when you ask about nuts at restaurants, bakeries, friends, everywhere, but you really have to do it. And, you have to ask every time and read the labels everytime. Menus and recipes change, friends forget.
My daughter also has a cashew allergy. I found out when she was two, ate a piece of nut the size of a pinenut, and almost died - 911, paramedics, ambulance, Children's Hospital. She had never had any sign of being allergic before. At four, she had a second anaphylactic reaction (less severe) after eating at a friend's house. I wasn't sure if she was really having a reaction and took her to the ER. The doctor looked at me like I was an idiot for not giving her the Epipen. I felt like an idiot then, but at the time I took her in, I thought it would be overreacting. They really pounded it home - you need to react quickly and agressively to stop the reaction early.
The Anaphylaxis Network has some kids' books and tapes about food allergies. My daughter likes the ''Alexander the Elephant'' ones. Also, they have Epipen cases and carriers that don't look like purses! Dealing with Same Thing- Unfortunately
The reason we know my son is anaphylactic is he had one bite of cashew butter when he was 13 mos old & nearly died. You can't be certain whether your child would experience anaphylaxis unless he has an episode, however, judging from your child's reaction to trace amounts, test results, & your doctor's advice, I would consider it a strong possibility.
Never be w/out a set of epi-pens! You are NOT being neurotic! Even hives can kill & nuts are like a lethal poison to your son & the epi-pen is the only chance you have of reversing a reaction in case of accidental ingestion. Also, while most food allergies may not be life-threatening, nut allergies are the most often fatal. On a positive note, current research may lead to a treatment for our kids in the next 5-10 yrs.
Re: preschool, whether your child needs a nut-free one depends 1) on your child (will he eat ONLY his own food?) & 2) on the school's ability to keep trace amounts of nut butters & foods off the surfaces & toys, since it's possible he would react to contact w/these trace amounts. My son (now almost 5) can not be entirely trusted around food that is not safe/potentially not safe for him--he is very smart & cerebral, but can be impulsive at times & has picked up food off the floor at friends' homes & popped it in his mouth before I could react. He once dove for crushed peanuts & candy in a parking lot, & recently he trustingly accepted unsafe food from a teacher (who forgot about his food allergy), even after being reminded just before to only accept food from Mommy or Daddy.
All that said, it is possible to keep your child safe w/ constant vigilance, lots of planning, educating anyone who cares for your child about his condition & how & when to use an epi-pen. It is also not too early to begin teaching your son how to keep himself safe.
A great support organization is the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) www.foodallergy.org. FAAN will have a fundraising walk in SF in September & it would be a great place for you to learn more.
Feel free to contact me if you wish. I wish you the best in keeping your child safe! hring
From what I understand, the latest research and thinking on food allergies in kids is that almost all grow out of them, and that contrary to earlier thinking, avoiding those foods does NOT increase the chances that it will get worse. In fact, avoiding may contribute to NOT growing out of it so easily. Already our son has grown out of several. You should only avoid them when you need to avoid the reaction it causes--like if it causes eczema (because that is ongoing and can be painful) and if it's potentially serious, like with peanut allergy. If the reaction is something that comes and goes without really bothering the child, don't worry about it.
The problem with peanut allergy (and a few other potentially serious ones) is that it is one of the foods that can have a potentially serious reaction. So because of that, you avoid it like crazy and carry the epipen. That said, research now shows that most kids do outgrow peanut allergies, and that most who are allergic would likely have only mild reactions anyway. But you do never know. AND, esp w/ peanut, you never can know if it is truly mild or not. One time he may have a mild reaction to peanut, but then the next time he might have an anaphylactic reaction. You can't really know.
All that said, I think you just do the best you can--carry the epipen, give one to the preschool and teach them how to use it, and most of all, teach your son he can't have nuts, can't eat other kids food, and needs to always ask grown ups if there's nuts in stuff & tell them he is allergic. Our son seems to get this already. He had lunch at a friend's the other day, and he asked the mom. We are serious about it, but without trying to scare him. And, we always take whatever opportunities we can to tell him what other people are allergic to, too. We are comforted by the knowledge that he will probably outgrow it, and that if he does accidentally eat a peanut, it will probably not be a big deal, anyway. Finding that balance--between caution and comfort--is key, in my opinion.
I feel compelled to say, I am in no way a medical professional and everything I said is just my own opinion, based on my experiences... Good luck! another nutty mama
If your son has shown an allergy to some food already with a visible reaction, chances are that he will react very strongly to ingesting nuts or peanuts. Nuts and peanuts are strong allergens. I too thought it was a bit much to demand that my daycare goes totally nuts and peanuts free, but contrarily to your belief, food allergies are often life-threatening. It is your son's life, and you want to protect him from such an event.
The other reason to be strict with his diet right now is that he may grow out of his allergies. Just this reason should be a great motivation for you to really avoid any food he might be allergic to for a couple of years, or until his skin test show better results.
I would recommend subscribing to the FAAN network, http://www.foodallergy.org/, it is a great resource to learn about allergies. They also have many educational tapes or DVDs that you can use to educate yourself or the daycare providers.
If I were you, I would follow the allergist recommendation and be patient. Another mom
- Your son is still too young for you to know how severe his nut allergy is, especially if he has never eaten it. My son didn't eat a peanut between age 1 and 4, and when he had that one fateful bite, he had a full-blown anaphylactic reaction. So you should assume that your son's reaction is severe if ingested, but probably okay if he has been around peanuts without having a reaction.
- I agree with your allergist that nut-free policies are very hard to enforce -- a classmate's babysitter or grandparent might make a PBJ sandwich by mistake, etc. My son's second reaction stemmed from eating a candy bar that he had found, so it had nothing to do with what other kids packed in their lunches. I believe that educating your child and being very vocal in asking the teachers and parents to create a community of support is more effective. If all of the kids in his class learn that they cannot share their lunches, he is more protected than going with the assumption that all of the food in the classroom is ''safe.'' Your son must also learn to ask about ingredients -- of course, you will need to remind him constantly and be extra vigilant at Halloween.
- Buy yourself some OTC Primatene mist inhalers. They are about $18 a pop (a few $ less for Walgreen's generic brand) -- it contains the same drug, epinephrine, as the Epi-pen but is an inhalant and is thus less invasive to use. We used it to treat my son's second reaction and it was very effective -- it prevented a trip to the ER.
- We have four complete ''allergy kits'' that include one Epi-pen, Primatene Mist and meltable Benedryl, which should be your first line of defense, phone numbers and instructions. We keep one with my son's teacher in the classroom, one with the school office, one reserved for playdates and one for home.
So, welcome to your new reality. You will learn quickly how to live with your son's allergy and you *will* get used to it. Oddly, I think my son (who is now 7) enjoys the attention he gets from announcing his peanut allergy -- I think it makes him feel somehow special. Go figure. Good luck!
So, here is my advice based on years of experience. If you go out to eat, tell the waitress/waiter that your child is deathly allergic to all nuts and to please ask the chef if there are any nuts in the food. If you don't use the word ''deathly'' some wait-staff don't pay attention.
If your child is having any type of reaction, give them chewable Benadryl tablets and watch them carefully. If they are wheezing and developing hives, or have any swelling anywhere on their body, or if they begin to throw up, or become light-headed or faint, use the Epipen. Only use one Epipen and bring them to the ER. Make sure you tell the ER that you have used an Epipen. One really good doctor I have, recently told me that if Iím having mild reaction but if the Benadryl isnít doing the trick, that I should take Zantac. He reports that the Zantac gives you a better bang for your buck and itís a good second line of defense after the Benadryl. But, this is only useful for an older child or adult who is familiar with a severe allergy. If the Benadryl doesnít quickly alleviate the allergy, move to the Epipen. Email me if you have any questions. danisue
Hi -- my wife and I are trying to decide how militant to be about eating peanuts while breastfeeding. I lean towards ''skip it -- not worth the risk,'' while she leans towards, ''you're so overprotective!'' We have NO family history of peanut or nut allergies, although there is a family history of hay fever, seasonal allergies, asthma, and allergies to penicillin, sulfa drugs, and cephilasporins... I've got all those things mentioned, except asthma... by brother has it. Anyone have any thoughts on this one? Thanks! kevin
We just found out that our 10-month old son has a peanut allergy. I inadvertently gave him a few pieces of my daughter's cereal, which contained peanut butter. We took him straight to the emergency room, after he broke out in hives and vomited. We felt very fortunate that it wasn't worse, but are frightened and distraught over the prospect of another accident peanut ingestion. I'm curious how other parents deal with their children's peanut allergy. While we're aware that about 20% of children outgrow their peanut allergy, we feel like our son has been given a life sentence. Are there any helpful resources on dealing with this? How do other parents ensure that other people don't give your child food that may contain peanuts? Are there any pediatric allergists that you recommend? Any tips on dealing with this would be greatly appreciated. Janice
We had him tested at an allergist. He tested negative but then we had him eat peanuts at the doctors office where he did have a reaction within an hour. They treated him right away and was told he might likely drop the allergy within a year or two. So we kept him away from peanuts. Don't keep peanuts in the house, tell all caregivers, friends, watch at parks and parties. Read all labels, make sure no one offers him any food (you do have to educate the public, especially well meaning people wanting to give your child cookies). And we travel with a bottle of Benedryl all the time. He's not so sensitive that we need an epi- pin but I know others who do.
He still has his allergy as far as we know and will continue to have him checked every year or two. So we continue to keep peanuts away. He knows what happens when he eats peanuts so will not go near it. Halloween time he went house to house saying ''Trick or treat, I'm allergic to peanuts!'' He'll wait to dive into the candy after we've checked everything.
There's an organization called the Food Allergy network'' that is helpful. http://www.foodallergy.org/ Once you get used to it, it is not so scarey. Good luck. Nina
For the most part our kids with allergies know what they can and cannot eat, but they are gradeschool ages and we still have those flyers hanging. Your young child will not know at this age.
Make sure an epipen is on site at all of the above sites. And make sure you teach a FEW of the teachers how to use it and what to look for. Maybe even add it to the flyer.
We serve snacks to the kids daily and we keep a seperate container of safe foods for our peanut allergic friends. Some of our kids are so deathly allergic that they are seated with a teacher who can monitor others' food at lunch and snack times. Even the spreading of peanut butter on a table can inflict harm to some!
One year, the allergy was taken so seriously that I bought ONLY foods that did not contain nuts so that there were no mistakes.
You've got to make sure, too, that you and your teachers know that many, many, many foods are made in factories that make other foods with nuts, so those foods should be avoided, too.
You'd be amazed at how many processed foods have nuts, peanut oil, or are made in factories that make other foods with nuts. Take, for example, MnMs. You think the plain ones are safe, but they are made in factories that make the MnMs with nuts. Start to read labels... many, many crackers and cookies have peanut oils or something like it.
It may be that your child is not as allergic to those foods as other kids. Watch what he eats and see what is OK for him. And, don't feel ashamed to ask for accomodations to keep your child alive!! daycare director
Education, both for yourself and those around your child is also critical. The good news is, it seems more people know people with serious food allergies so getting folks to take it seriously is getting easier. Try to make easy for people to support you. I know it's hard, but coming from a positive place (here's how we can keep him safe) instead of a fearful place (here's what will happpen if you screw up) can make things easier.
I may sound calm, but please don't think for one second I don't worry about my child or assume the universe will keep him safe. It's just that although I do worry about his safety, I want his world to be as big as possible. To facilitate this I've done trainings at every single school, summer program or sports program he's participated in. He's never missed an overnight school field trip. Neither of us believe his allergies should rule his life. Also, since he's now a teenager spending more time away from me and out with his friends, I'm in the ''letting go'' phase of allergy management since the responsibility is resting much more on his shoulders than mine.
Good luck to you. It's hard now, but you'll manage this. Everyone has some challenge in life and this just happens to be ours. Not Easy but Not Impossible
I wish you all the best in dealing with this. I know it is stressful, and an extra hassle. But it is manageable and most people are now aware of this all too common problem and willing to make whatever accomodations are necessary to keep your child safe. --a sympathetic mom
I'm curious what the theory is regarding the seemingly growing number of children who are allergic to peanuts. Why the increase, why potentially fatal, anyway to reduce child's chances of developing, anyway to test safely? Thanks. Concerned mom
First, why the rise in allergies? No one really knows, but pollution might be a contrbuting factor. It is potentially fatal because tissues in the throat and mouth area can swell up to the point where air can not enter the lungs-- anaphalatic shock. Your child's immune system will either identify the proteins in peanuts as OK, or as not OK. It is not something that develops with increased exposure. Also, it is a myth that you can grow out of it. Fortunately most reactions are not severe. With my son it has been stomach cramps and puking, and some facial swelling.
As to testing, it is a simple allergy 'prick test'. I think kids have to be six or so to be tested. I wouldn't test with food if your child has EVER shown ANY type of response to peanut products. Helene
As I have children I was quite worried about them also being allergic to peanuts. What I have been told by several doctors is that my allergy makes the potential of their developing allergies in general more likely, but that doesn't mean that they will necessarily develop one to peanuts/legumes or tree nuts. Rose
For those of you with peanut or tree nut allergies and for all chocolate lovers I would like to recommend the Vermont Nut Free Chocolate Company. The chocolates are delicious and they have some very cute novelty items like chocolate bunny or bear or T-Rex pops. They can be reached at www.vermontnutfree.com or 1888-4-nut-free
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