Don’t Do Me Any Gluten Free Favors!

Ever have someone be too %$!@ helpful?

Our son is peanut and tree nut allergic. He also reacts to soy protein, chick peas, lentils and some other legumes.

We have eaten successfully at a nice chain restaurant before. Dear son orders from the peanut free menu – a burger on a regular bun. We had checked the bun last time for soy ingredients so we did not go into all the details with our server. (This was my mistake.) We absolutely should have given them the chef card and insisted they take it back to the chef.

When the food comes out, son’s burger is on an allergy plate. The server mentions that this is the allergy meal with a gluten free bun. Gluten free bun? It looked like a regular bun. Son says he thinks he ate the gluten free bun before. But this is making him uncomfortable. So we say the burger should be put on a regular bun. Then we all start thinking about cross contamination.

So we ask to see the gluten free bun ingredients. Ack! It is based on garbanzo bean flour / chick pea flour. One of his major allergens. So we ask that his whole burger be redone.

The waiter says they don’t usually give the gluten free bun without requests since it costs $1 more. He calls it a “fluke”; we respond that the fluke would have sent us to the ER tonight.

Too many people assume food allergies mean “gluten free”.  Don’t do us any favors by giving us gluten free food when we did not ask for it.

Lessons Learned

A kid with multiple food allergies should always give the server the chef card and make sure the chef receives it. Every time. Even if there is a peanut free menu. Even if the last dinner there was fine.

Growing up

Nationals game peanut allergy freeThis was a week of food allergy milestones for our family.  I wish I could say dear son grew out of one of his allergies!  No, not that kind of milestone.  We took steps forward to live with our son as a growing preteen who needs more independence.

Dear husband and I have been married 20 years and we went away overnight, leaving our kids with a wonderful young college student in charge.  What a wonderful getaway!  We had a super time in a nearby city.  We had a delicious dinner at a place without a kids’ menu.  We came back to happy kids who had played lots of video games and eaten lots of sweets for breakfast.  Here’s what made the weekend work:

  • College student is a family friend who stayed at our peanut free house
  • She also works with disabled kids through the county and is trained to handle emergencies
  • We provided the food, sweets and all
  • We reinforced Epipen training before we left
  • We were always reachable by cell phone
  • Daughter and son are both very responsible kdis

Later that week, dear son went on a field trip without me.  This was a nearby plantation ( we live in VA) and the staff and I talked over the possible allergens ahead of time.  If son had dairy or wheat allergies, I would have needed to attend.  Son’s teacher confirmed they were not eating snacks or lunch on the trip.  Aside from a crazy thunderstorm, he had a super time.  Here’s what made the field trip work:

  • Teacher’s willingness to handle the Epipen if needed
  • Plantation staff knowledge of their food activities
  • Son’s maturity – he did not eat anything baked there
  • Trip was close to home

The trickiest outing was to an MLB game without having peanut free seats.  The key was getting seats at the top of a section through a wonderful lady at the box office.  There was no danger of peanut shells coming into our area from above.  We had friends sitting right in front of us.  We were lucky and had a group of older gentlemen in our row who were not planning on peanut snacks.  The game was fun and son got out with no hives or other reactions.  Here’s what made this work:

  • Seats that allowed him to be somewhat isolated
  • Wipes to clean his armrests
  • Friends sitting around him, eating non peanut snacks
  • All of son’s food brought in with us, with no problems

I hadn’t realized the 4 seats later in our row could only exit by walking past our group.  It worked out fine through the generosity of the older fans.  Next time, I would try to bring a bigger group of people for a larger buffer zone.

Of the weekend away, the field trip and the baseball game, our son was most anxious at the game – we were way out of his comfort zone. He was always such a good listener at the “don’t go near that peanut” preschool age, I think it will take some time to show him how to navigate comfortably in this preteen world.  Let us know what has worked for you and your preteens and teens –

More Great Food Allergy Moments of 2011

We continue on with the best of 2011.

August  Cake Break in the beach town of Rehoboth, DE is a nut free bakery.  Son could eat whatever he wanted there!  It was wonderful seeing him get to pick.  He sat at the window seats with his cousins and had the best time. This is my personal favorite allergy moment of 2011.

start of school 2011September  School started back up – whether we were ready or now.  Here’s a shout out to all the great 4th grade friends who choose to sit at the peanut free table.  You guys rock!

October  Our son has a super Sunday school teacher who contacted us ahead of time when she read his info sheet.  He always feels safe and included in her class.

Halloween was a non-issue for us this year because son got pneumonia that weekend.  He had the Harry Potter cape borrowed from his best friend and everything.  Nasty timing.

November  This past year brought some challenges and some frustrating days where I felt like banging my head against the wall.  How many times do I need to say the same exact thing?  And then say it again a different way?  A big thanks to the nova food allergy support group – these folks have seen and heard it all.

December We are so thankful to our son’s teacher and parents for a year-end party where everything was safe for his classroom.  He didn’t need to even open his safe cookie box from home.

Kudos to cooks on both sides of our family, who can manage to serve tasty and safe holiday meals to our  son, an uncle who is vegetarian and wheat-allergic, and a cousin with celiac.   You are amazing!  This year we passed around gourmet chocolates from Simply Nut Free Chocolates  that were safe for everyone at our celebrations.  Rave reviews!

Happy New Year!

Thanks to all who made 2011 so great.  We hope 2012 brings more wonderful allergy friendly products and even more people who “get it”!