My Son Has a Food Allergy and I'm Struggling to Cope

My Son Has a Food Allergy and I'm Struggling to Cope

One mom shares how her kid’s new dietary restrictions have her down.


By Marisa Torrieri Bloom

We may eat to live, but I live to eat peanut butter. For the past four years, since getting pregnant with my first (and oldest) son, Nathan, I’ve eaten peanut butter for at least 80 percent of my breakfasts -- and until recently, so did Nathan, who turns 3 in July.

All was well until my younger son, Logan, turned 15 months old, and the doctor suggested we give peanut butter a try. One teensy, ant-size crumb of the stuff and three minutes later, little Logan was rubbing his eyes furiously and refusing to eat his regular breakfast. The next hour was a big blur: I stuck a pacifier in Logan’s mouth, shoved the kids in the car, and rushed little Logan to the doctor for antihistamines and a blood test.

Within a week, it was confirmed: Logan is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame. And chances are, he’ll always have those allergies.

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When our pediatrician confirmed the news, I was shocked. How was this possible, given that my mom, husband, mother-in-law, and older son ate peanut butter?

It took several minutes for me to calm down. Even though my kind doctor reminded me “it isn’t cancer,” I still felt confused and perplexed and freaked out. Suddenly, I was a mom of a kid with allergies -- just like that! And as the news sunk in over the course of several hours, my feelings went from shock to sadness: How would I be able to deal with all of the new restrictions? What did this mean for our family? How would I cope with removing peanut butter from the house -- given that it is one of the few foods my older son enjoys?

I took the next several days to learn as much as I could from the local allergist who is now Logan’s second doctor, as well as friends of kids with allergies. He’s certainly far from alone, as an estimated 8 percent of children now have food allergies. And while having peanut butter near him isn’t necessarily problematic, the fact that I have another messy toddler in the house means it’s probably best to avoid it. Also gone: family trips to ice cream parlors. I’ll have to take my older son by himself in order to avoid cross contamination.

It has been three weeks since Logan got a positive diagnosis, and I’ve finally wrapped my brain around it and accepted it. There are all kinds of theories around how allergies start and why peanut allergies, in particular, have grown. None of this really matters to me, because I need to focus on my individual situation.

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I’ve made a lot of unexpected changes, such as ridding my pantry of pine nuts and nutrition bars with nuts, and I’m learning to read labels carefully. I’ve learned how to use an EpiPen, and carry it everywhere I go. This summer, trips to frozen yogurt joints won’t be part of Logan’s life the way they were part of Nathan’s -- so I’m going to have to think of other activities we can do instead.

I’m grateful that sunflower butter is so delicious, although my older son is not yet convinced he should try “new peanut butter” yet (“I want old peanut butter, mommy!”). I’m also grateful Logan’s allergies are limited to tree nuts and sesame, and don’t extend to dairy or wheat, as they do for so many other friends of mine.

Of course, I’m still in the early stages of adjusting to a life that accommodates my little guy’s specific allergy-related needs. It’s a good thing that food manufacturers are (for the most part) really detailed when it comes to labeling, and my sons’ day care is a “nut free” zone. Ultimately, while I’m scared the day will come that my tiny man will go into anaphylactic shock, I’m relieved there is so much support for him nowadays.

Does your child have a food allergy, and if so, how have you changed your life to adjust to it?


Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a freelance writer and guitar teacher who lives with her husband and two young sons in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Image ©iStock.com/photointrigue


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