A good part of our time at home is accompanied by food, whether we’re having a six course meal or munching some snacks while watching the TV. Because foods are a very important part in our life, all family members should work together to prevent allergenic food from causing health problems. You should work on converting your house into a sanctuary where risky foods won’t enter. If non allergic family members still want to have risky foods around, it is important to use proper labeling and shelving, which can avoid cross contamination and accidental exposures.
Removing risky foods
When a family member has a severe food allergy, the natural impulse may be to purge the household of all foods that can possibly trigger a reaction. While that is certainly an option, other methods are available, and only you and your family can decide which option is the best. Some families choose to evict all problem foods from the premises. Others prefer eliminating only the riskiest foods. And some families opt for prevention and education rather than an outright ban. All these options are valid. As a family, you need to weigh the risks and benefits and decide for yourself, taking the following considerations into account:
If one of the family members is allergic to some foods, your natural impulse could be to completely purge you household from anything that can trigger a dangerous reaction. Of course, it is an obvious option, but there are other things you can do, so you can decide which one is the best. To completely remove allergy risks, you may need to evict many types of foods, even those that pose slight risks. However, some families may prefer removing foods only with high to medium risks. The most flexible families can also choose to focus on education and preventive steps instead of an outright ban. These options are all valid; however as parents you should weigh all risks and benefits while taking these considerations into account:
• Allergy severity.
• Whether it is practical to remove certain foods.
• Whether banning foods can affect the quality of life and nutritional intake.
• Whether banning foods can affect child’s ability in dealing with allergy risks in the real world.
Pros and cons of food banning
If a family member has a serious case of food allergy, even a minute amount of allergens may quickly trigger dangerous reactions; it means you need to ban risky foods completely from your house. For example, families with risks of peanut allergy may need to completely remove peanut from the house for these reasons:
• Peanut allergy frequently engenders a higher level of anxiety, especially a fear that even a minor exposure can cause severe or even fatal reactions.
• They find that, it is relatively easy to give up peanuts than other types of foods.
However things are not so simple for other allergy cases. For example, the situation for wheat and milk allergy is usually very different. Often removing more basic foods from a household can cause bigger hardship for other non-allergic family members. Consequently, many families still choose to consume basic food products, while ensuring that the risk of allergy is reduced to a minimal level. Some experts do not recommend eliminating basic foods from a home; instead they favor sensible precautions, which can create safer environment.
Keeping all risky foods at home may help on alleviating irrational anxiety. When allergic persons live around problem foods, they can steadily reduce their anxieties while developing respect on possible dangers. It could be equal to having a candle or gas stove in your home, children understand that playing with fire can be fun, but they are aware that the risk far outweighs the excitement. Similarly, they know that eating ice cream – that is rich in milk and covered with nuts – is nice, but the aftermath can be disastrous.
Children who are nurtured with fear on allergic foods may become completely paralyzed with fear, when they see problem foods nearby. They may become panicked more easily, each time someone eats peanut-filled candy bars across the room, as they are convinced that suffering or even death is looming. Allergic children who live around problem foods throughout their lives, won’t have the same irrational fears. Families who ban foods may be plagued by the thought of worst case scenarios, they may imagine that someday, a babysitter may unwittingly give their children peanut butter sandwich. But with proper education and precautions, risks can be reduced significantly.
Focusing on education
If you choose on having problem foods at home, you should provide essential education for both allergic and non-allergic persons in the household. The presence of problem foods nearby may necessitate families to perform basic steps such as:
• Proper reading and understanding food labels.
• Washing hands before and after eating.
• Scrubbing down counters and tables after cooking and eating.
• Practicing proper meal preparation.
Additionally, allergic people should have a proper self control in avoiding problem foods exposure. Non-allergic family members should also show restrain when eating together with allergic persons. It is important for everyone to have proper cooking techniques, understand food label reading, and wash hands regularly. Another effective method is to set up a closed special eating area, where non-allergic family members can store, prepare and eat problem foods, certainly allergic people should be prohibited from entering the area.
Organizing your household
Families who choose to let problem foods hang out at their households should employ the right strategy to protect allergic family members. These safe practices shouldn’t be considered as hard and fast rules, they are merely a few ideas that may work well in you family and home:
• Segregate safe and allergenic foods: Use a specific storage area in your pantry or cupboard for allergenic foods and make sure that everyone knows the drill. You may also need to buy a mini fridge, to store only problem foods.
• Use proper labeling: Special stickers or labels may give the allergic people an added safety margin. You may use custom labeling for allergenic foods, make sure the labels use bright colors and large letters, to allow people recognize them in a glance.
• Exclude risky foods when eating together: Often establishing seating arrangements is not enough. It may work a few times, but eventually, the allergic person can be exposed accidentally, as splatters, spills and scattered crumbs are often difficult to dodge.
• Look for cross-contamination risks: If you keep problem foods at home, there is always a risk for cross contamination. Everyone should be careful by using utensils properly. Use a separate spatula when preparing cookies that contain milk or peanuts. Likewise, non-allergic children should be taught not to dip their knives to the jelly jar after spreading peanut butter.