It's been a year since we found out our son has a peanut allergy. In that time, my husband and I have learned (sometimes the hard way) what to do and what not to do. Everything from eating out, grocery shopping, trick-or-treating and attending birthday parties has changed because of his allergy.
On one hand, dealing with it now — while Tucker is still so young — is easy, since we're the only ones who give him food. On the other hand, he has no idea he has a peanut allergy and can't speak up for himself. He would eat anything that was given to him.
I hope sharing what we've learned this year will help educate and spread awareness. Peanuts are responsible for the most food-allergy-related deaths in the United States, so staying knowledgeable is important!
1. Peanuts are different from tree nuts. Peanuts are actually a legume, which puts them in a different category than tree nuts. But while Tucker can safely eat cashews, pecans and others, many tree nuts are processed in the same facility as peanuts — making them unsafe.
2. You can eat at Chick-fil-A. They use refined peanut oil, which does not contain peanut proteins.
3. You can ask to be the first to board an airplane, in order to clean your seat and tray. Most airlines have stopped serving peanuts, but they can't control what food passengers bring aboard, nor is there time to clean between flights. (On our flight to Colorado, the woman beside Tucker and me had JUST eaten a peanut butter sandwich before she boarded, so you never know.)
4. You should always wipe down the high chair and table at restaurants. It's always possible that the person who sat there before you had a cross-contaminated dish or a peanut butter sandwich (which is on tons of kids' menus).
5. It's possible to safely eat at an ice cream parlor by always asking the employee to wash the scoops before serving. Our favorite shop, Blue Cow, is SO nice about doing this!
6. Bakery items are a no-go. We've found that because most coffee shops, grocery stores and restaurants get their bakery items from off-site facilities, it's impossible to guarantee if items are safe. There is one exception locally, and that's Corbin's Confections in Salem. They run a completely peanut-free, tree-nut-free and gluten-free bakery.
7. This leads me into the challenge of birthday parties. Most store-bought cakes have peanut contamination. As Tucker gets older, we will always need to bring our own safe dessert to parties, including those at school.
8. Halloween will be a challenge, but not completely impossible. Of course, we will always have to monitor what candy he keeps (the list of peanut-free options is short). This year, I learned that when homes are passing out non-food treats, they can place a teal pumpkin outside. Great candy alternatives include balloons, stickers, pencils, silly putty, and glow sticks.
9. Never offer other children food without asking their parents. This can easily happen at a park, school, a play date, birthday party or family gathering. A child, especially Tucker's age, is completely innocent to what someone is giving them.
10. You have to check every label. Products you wouldn't expect to have peanut contamination sometimes do. One I found surprising was Whales Cheese Crackers, which are made at a facility that processes peanuts and tree nuts. Another one is Neapolitan ice cream, which we bought for Tucker's first birthday. Not all brands do, but the one we purchased actually listed peanuts as an ingredient.
Laura Richards is a family, newborn and maternity photographer serving the Roanoke Valley. She specializes in authentic, feel-good photographer that tells "the story of you" for decades. Learn all about what makes her different from other photographers here.
Welcome to the blog! I'm Laura, and I specialize in authentic, natural-light photography and heirloom print art. I'm currently based in Roanoke, Virginia, but soon Charlottesville! Hope you'll explore my little online home and reach out if you have any questions!