Explaining food allergies to young children

Joyce Machin, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, shares advice for parents on how to best explain your young child's food allergies to him or her
Advice On How To Explain Food Allergies To Young Children
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Explaining food allergies to young children

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So I've spoken to my daughter about food allergies and why she can't eat what her friends are eating. At a young age, before three and four, it wasn't a big deal. We kind of said that she couldn't eat what her friends were eating because the foods that they had would make her sick. They would make her “itchy” – that's the term that we would use. However, as we've learned, because she's seven now and she's gotten older, she realizes that there's things that she can't eat and it's not fair. She's actually expressed to us that it's not fair and she gets upset about it. So at this day, at this time of her life, we talk about that it's not fair and why do we have to keep doing this, why do we have to make so many stipulations in order for her to eat something that can be safe. And we just talk to her about what life is like with food allergies. But we also make sure that she has alternatives – she knows that she can eat other foods that we can bring from home and that usually, if I can cook or know in advance, that we'll bring something that is comparable to what's served at a party. For example, if she goes to a birthday party and she can't be served the food that's at the party, like pizza, cupcake and ice cream – which she can't enjoy – then I'll find out and I'll bring her pizza and I'll make her own cupcake and we might have an ice cream substitute.

Joyce Machin, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, shares advice for parents on how to best explain your young child's food allergies to him or her

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Joyce Machin

Mom & Occupational Therapist

Joyce Jung Machin is a wife and mother of two beautiful girls - Maya and Ella. She is a pediatric occupational therapist with over 15 years of experience. She's been able to travel to many countries, complete triathlons, and work with orphans overseas. By far, her greatest pride is her family.  Maya, seven years old, has multiple food allergies - wheat, dairy, fish, shellfish, nuts, tree nuts, and sesame. Joyce’s love for cooking has allowed many well-loved family dinners that are safe for all.

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