Friday, May 6, 2011

Please don't bring food

Some of the difficult things about allergic kids are keeping food away from them-not allowing it in your house and stopping others from feeding it to them.

When Ladybug was born, offers for meals kept on coming.  How do you kindly tell people "No thanks"?  It's so hard to politely refuse the sincere offers to help.  Plus, the help really would be appreciated, especially by tired parents.

We had some options:  We could let them cook for us and bring food by.  Then I would cook a separate meal for Bee.  But I don't feel safe having the food in the house.  And I don't feel right eating "banned" food in front of Bee and not allowing her to have it.


We could let them pick up food from one of the few restaurants where we can eat.  But how do you explain the detailed and ridiculously picky order to them?  That would get lost in translation!

Or we could politely decline.  I hated having to do that!

Then there were a few who were insistent.  They asked for a list of Bee's allergies and were so sweet and determined to cook for us anyway.

Here's why that will rarely work:  Accidents happen, even when I'm cooking, and food can contain allergens or be contaminated.  I would never want anyone else to have that responsibility.

I'm not sure I could trust those who didn't have a working knowledge of food allergies and label reading to prepare food for Bee.  It's so difficult to read labels and understand which brands are safe and which aren't.  I still get confused and would not wish that confusion on someone else.

I would worry about cross-contamination since their kitchen would not be allergy-free.  Our kitchen isn't even perfectly allergy free (late night ice cream for mom and dad does happen here).  Kitchen counters and utensils would have to be thoroughly cleaned before any food preparation. 

Just looking at Bee's list would be too overwhelming because it is so long and the ingredients are unfamiliar and hard to find.  Believe me, I've been there.

I could not think of a single "simple" meal that I could give them or an easy recipe to provide.  With food allergies simple and easy do not exist.  

So we compromised:  If someone wanted to help, they provided a gift card to a restaurant where we could eat.  That way we could place our very strange order and pick up the food ourselves.  And believe it or not, this is really much simpler.

With food allergies it's so hard for others to help and even when they sincerely do want to help, it's impossible to explain how they can.  Yet, I felt I was almost being ungrateful and it was so difficult to turn down their offers.  I miss being normal!  But it's worth it each time Bee smiles....

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