Two Ways to Make Sure Your Food Allergy Information Isn’t Fake
After 12 years as a food allergy mama, there are lots of things I’ve learned over the years. Many of the things I’ve learned have been true, but some things I learned the hard way.
For example, when we were new to food allergies we were really confused about whether “may contain” statements really meant there could be traces of the allergen in the product or if the companies were just covering their butts. We falsely thought the latter and, unfortunately, my daughter had a reaction to a “may contain” product. Thankfully it was a mild reaction, but you can bet we changed our actions after that.
We’ve come a long way in our journey since that time, and I’ve spent a lot of time making sure I know what’s important about food allergies (I’ve even become an AllerCoach), and now I believe in quality knowledge even more. I know that like me in our early stages, there are lots of people that want good allergy resources, but don’t realize where to get it, or maybe feel overwhelmed with everything that’s on the internet.
I mean, food allergies are restrictive enough, why would you want to restrict yourself further if there’s no evidence for it?
Or, what if you’re not being careful enough and risking a severe reaction?
All of these questions are important and the only way to answer them is with a solid foundation of information. Not only does good information help you make good choices, it can also mean the difference between intense anxiety surrounding your child’s allergies and living life to it’s fullest.
What Are The Food Allergy Information Basics?
First of all, I think it’s a good idea to know exactly WHAT information we need to know. Here are the food allergy basics I believe that every food allergy family needs to know and understand:
The difference between an allergy and an intolerance/sensitivity.
It’s important to use the right terms. Allergy means the chance of anaphylaxis and intolerance/sensitivity means other reactions like intestinal issues, skin issues or similar that aren’t life threatening.
Can you have a “mild” allergy?
One of the biggest misconceptions I’ve seen is people thinking that their child’s allergy isn’t severe because they’ve never had a severe reaction. If your child has been diagnosed with a food allergy (and not an intolerance or sensitivity), then there’s ALWAYS the chance of anaphylaxis when ingesting the food because the severity of allergic reactions can not be based on previous reactions. It doesn’t matter how many mild reactions occur, the next one could result in anaphylaxis because there’s no rhyme or reason to anaphylaxis.
What is anaphylaxis
Why does it happen, and what are the signs and symptoms of it.
When to use the epinephrine injector
This is likely sooner than you think!
How to use your epinephrine injector
Don’t get caught not knowing! Knowledge helps so much when we’re in an emergency situation. I also highly recommend something our Allergist suggested: try your expired injectors on an orange with a peel to “practice” and take the fear away from using it
What is cross contact
Called cross contamination in Canada. Know what it is and where you should be watching for it (i.e. in your own kitchen, in restaurants, at school, in public etc).
Labeling laws in your country and how they affect you.
2 Simple Ways to Check your Food Allergy Resources
Now that we know WHAT you need to know, how can we make sure the information about these things or other food allergy information isn’t fake? Here are 2 ways.
1.Check with your Allergist/Immunologist.
I know this sounds simple, but it’s just so important. I can’t stress it enough. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor. What happens if you’re not seeing them for awhile? Many times, you’ll be able to call the office and a nurse can answer your questions, or they might be able to book you in for a quick consult.
I know going through the process of booking an appointment is a lot less convenient than popping the question into your favourite Facebook group, but medical questions are specific to the patient. What’s applicable to someone else, may not be applicable to others. The answer will likely depend on your child’s medical history, medical test results, and more. The answers you get to these types of medical questions in a Facebook group will be based on someone else’s medical history and test results.
I’m not saying that you can’t ask questions in Facebook groups, because they can be really valuable for lifestyle questions; but if it’s a question that’s based on medical information, medical history or doctor’s advice, you really need to get the information from your doctor directly.
2. Check with a qualified source.
This is really important. I mean, how much of what you know and LIVE by when it comes to food allergies comes from research and facts? Hopefully all of it, but if you’re not sure, here are the 3 information sources that I like the best and the highlights of each.
Food Allergy Canada
This Canadian organization is a great resource for all things food allergy basics. I especially LOVE their free Allergy Aware Trainings. They’ve created trainings especially for parents, teachers and childcare workers and they only take 30 minutes to complete. Each course is interactive with fun mini quizzes to drive important information home. They even provide a certificate of completion. My school has used this course to train all of the teachers and support staff and they love it. This website and these courses are great resources for families in any country!
Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE)
Again, the FARE website is full of great information for food allergy families. I especially love their anaphylaxis emergency care plan because it includes easy-to-understand pictures of severe and mild symptoms of anaphylaxis.
For example, do you know that a weak pulse and faintness/dizziness is a severe symptom on anaphylaxis? Many think it’s just breathing and hives, but there are other symptoms too (and hives may or may not be one of them). This plan lays it all out for you. Great to print and have handy for families, caregivers and teachers.
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI)
This site is mainly for Allergists and Immunologists, but it’s also a great source of evidence-based research and information. I especially love the latest news and research summaries because they’re on the cutting edge of food allergy research. Here you’ll find the newest and most up-to-date information including information from the annual AAAAI meeting that’s held near the beginning of every year.
What To Do Next
If the sea of food allergy information is overwhelming or you want a more personal touch, an AllerCoach (like me) can work with you to help you navigate the food allergy life. In my business, I specialize in helping you apply food allergy information and creating strategies that make life as a food allergy mom easier.
The next time you see or hear something about food allergies in your Facebook group or podcast, consider checking the information with a qualified source (like the ones above) before doing anything else. You’ll get quality information and evidence-based research so you can be the most informed and make great decisions. I mean, nobody wants to be living in fear or basing their decisions on the latest internet rumour, right?
What about you? Have you ever found out you were believing fake information about food allergies? How did you learn the truth?