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Traveling with a Child Who Has Food Allergies

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Sandy beaches. Sunny skies.  Sunglasses, iTunes, and a bathing suit.

Vacation.

The word alone is enough to send a sense of euphoria trickling through your brain, and down your spine, as you can’t wait to be completely stress-free, for an entire week.

But imagine, for one moment, if vacation wasn’t a pleasant experience at all.  In fact, what if instead of excitement, fear and panic set in as you planned your overdue get-away?

Then welcome to my world: The severe and life altering world of food allergies.

Food allergies are real. I know firsthand, as my 3 year old son was diagnosed over two years ago.

The Food Allergy Research and Education organization (FARE) reports nearly 15 million Americans with food allergies.  And 1 in every 13 kids (under 18) are affected by this potentially fatal disease.

Unfortunately, my little guy is one of those people.  And negative vacation emotions are often true to life, for my family.

While traveling, the quality of your child’s health is often in the hands of strangers in a foreign environment. A safe “food zone” is priority at all times…and though time on the beach may sound amazing, it will never supersede potential anaphylactic risks.

But I can tell you from personal experience, it’s possible to have a safe, enjoyable vacation with your food-allergic family.  Everyone deserves a week of fruity, poolside slushies in the sun.  And if your family is one of those 15 million Americans with allergies, then you refuse to let this condition force you to hide behind dark clouds.

My family has learned to comfortably manage some of the most frightening travel experiences, by putting a few planning practices into place.  I hope these tips will help to alleviate anxiety during your planning, so you and your family can safely enjoy your well-deserved break.

1)      Research the area:

Do an online search of restaurants and grocery stores where you’ll be visiting. Calls to restaurants can reveal kitchen practices and allergy meal options.  Grocery stores provide fresh fruit, vegetable, and other simple and easily replenished snacks.

2)      Pack a small cooler:

Freeze and store items in a cooler.  Casein free hot dogs and chicken nuggets, as well as dairy/nut free yogurts and puddings freeze well and make for safe, familiar options once prepared or defrosted. For air travel, store non-liquid frozen items in an insulated lunch bag as a carry-on.

3)      Reserve hotels with a kitchenette:

Refrigerate cold items, and prepare simple stove top meals in your room–eliminating risks of allergic dining experiences.

4)      Ditch “no snacking before a meal” rules:

Avoid binge eating during restaurant experiences by offering healthy snacks throughout the day for proper nutrition; turkey slices, raisins, carrots, apples, sunbutter/crackers.

5)      Talk to your allergist:

Your allergist can address travel concerns, and make sure you have preventive medications, and techniques in place for emergencies.

6)      Have fun! 

Don’t stress so much that you forget to enjoy!

Courtesy: Kristin Leavy Miller

Courtesy: Kristin Leavy Miller

 

Want to read more from writer Kristin Leavy-Miller?  Check out her blog www.myfoodallergictoddler1.tumblr.com.