Caroline shares her experience parenting a child with food allergies and how she is using her knowledge to help others who are navigating the world of food allergies…
1. Tell us a bit about yourself!
I am an allergy mum, with 2 little girls aged 6.5 and 4.5. I suffer food allergies myself, but was plunged into the allergy deep end when my 4.5 year old was born. Now I spend my days working and caring for my girls, all the time trying to keep my little allergy lady healthy and happy. I went back to university to study nutrition after having my allergy baby, and now I am using that knowledge to help others who find themselves navigating this often difficult and lonely road.
2. What are your child’s allergies? When did you first find out?
Miss 4.5 is allergic to too many foods to mention by name. Right now we have 17 safe foods, some of which most people never would of heard of lol! But we are slowly making progress and I am super inventive. We knew something was wrong with Miss 4.5 pretty much from day 1. Screaming, vomiting, pain, rashes, swollen eyes were just some of the signs. It took us over 12 months though to really work out exactly what was going on and find a doctor that could help us.
3. What type of tests were performed to determine the allergies?
Allergy tests weren’t helpful for us. Miss 4.5 has food protein induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES). These allergies are not detectable through normal testing methods. Our only way to know is to try, and then deal with the fallout if something happens. It makes for a long and difficult process.
4. What do you feel are the biggest challenges for those living with food allergies?
Educating people is the biggest challenge. Whilst most people now know about food allergies, unless you live with them the everyday reality is generally foreign. Food allergies inform and shape everything you do and everywhere you go. There isn’t a minutes rest. For parents it can be isolating and terrifying, and when people don’t understand it is so frustrating.
5. What made you start your own blog, Aussie Allergy Mum?
I stated aussieallergymum.com so other parents would know they were not alone. It gave me a platform to educate people, share recipes and inspiration and journal our journey.
6. What advice would you give to parents who have a child with a new food allergy diagnosis?
I have so much advice I would give. It can be such a scary and confusing time for parents, especially if they have not had previous experience with allergies, or if their child has been hospitalised by a reaction. But my advice all boils down to two things. Firstly, find a support network. Whether that be family and friends, online, whatever works for you. This road can be lonely but it absolutely does not have to be. Secondly, information gather. Ask questions of the doctors and health professionals you are working with, nothing is silly to ask. Everything is so new and complicated so make sure you find people you trust to help you navigate this new world for your child.
7. What is your favourite safe recipe?
My favourite is meringues. Sweet and yum. And these ones are egg free! I remember eating meringues as a child, the mini ones. Every Christmas we would go to my grandparent’s house for Christmas Dinner and after dinner out would come the mini meringues for the kids for dessert. Here is my recipe for egg-free meringues that taste great:
- 160mL canned chickpea liquid (known as aquafaba)
- 1 cup caster or brown sugar
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- Using an electric mixer whisk the aquafaba and cream of tartar for 15 mins or until soft peaks form.
- Continue whisking and add sugar gradually and continue until mixture is firm.
- Carefully shape onto baking paper lined trays and bake at 120 C for approx 90 mins until firm to touch.
- Turn off oven and leave meringues in there until completely cool.
- Serve with safe fruit or just plain is yummy too.
Thank you Caroline for sharing your health journey with us today!
Do you have any questions for Caroline? Pop them in a comment below!