Next Steps After Diagnosis
You’ve probably spent countless hours and many sleepless nights worrying about the health of your child and what the future holds. Your already busy lifestyle will now require more planning and even more preparation every single day. While having a child with food allergies is challenging, fortunately there is hope and a light at the end, of what may now seem dark, tunnel. Use these tips as a guideline to help ease the frustration of wondering what’s next after your child has been diagnosed with food allergies.
1. Manage Your Child’s Diet.
The first step after diagnosis is eliminating the culprit from their diet. Depending on the situation, a substitution diet may not be enough and you have to opt for medical foods and formulas. In this case, speak to your pediatrician about which brands they recommend for your child.
Managing food allergies can seem overwhelming and require a lot of drastic changes in diet and lifestyle. Meal preparation is important and there are tons of websites that offer great allergy-friendly recipes. Learn how to make substitutions when cooking at home. Also, remember to plan ahead when going out to eat by bringing a few “safe” snacks.
Lastly, keep a journal of allergic reactions – for example, after a meal or feeding, did you notice red spots or skin irritation? This is a great way to keep track between doctor visits and to use as a resource for both you and your doctor.
2. Take Control.
Educate yourself about food allergies by visiting different websites and reading books. You will have to shop carefully and learn about the food manufacturing process and how to read food labels correctly, which can be tricky. The ingredients can sometimes change or the product can contain items that you weren’t aware of. This step may seem simple, but it’s the most critical in maintaining your child’s health.
Another step in taking control is having an emergency care plan. While the ultimate goal of having a plan is to prevent reactions from occurring, accidents can still happen. It’s important to spread awareness and educate family members, care givers and your child’s school on how to manage your child’s food allergies through a preventative plan.
3. Join a support group.
The important thing to remember is you’re not alone. On average, one in every 13 kids in the U.S. has a food allergy. Countless families have and are still going through some of the same situations you are. Joining a support group or even an online forum are great ways to learn, share and connect with other families managing food allergies. If you can’t find one in your area then start a support community of your own!
The process of learning how to take care of a child with food allergies can initially seem like a daunting task and a big adjustment for the entire family. It can become overwhelming and, at times, seem like your life is all about managing your child’s food allergy. Over time, as you establish a new routine or system focused on keeping your child safe, it will begin to feel more manageable. I’m sure most parents can agree that the benefits of seeing your child thrive is worth every sacrifice.