From the mom with allergic children…

We’ve seen them at parties: The stealthy mom that raids the party pack to replace sugary treats with homemade date balls; the mom that watches her child like a hawk at the party table – ready to retrieve any unacceptable treats from their child’s hands (or mouths); the mom dragging along a back pack filled with anti-allergy meds and Epi-pens. Having an allergic child, I was interested in talking to other parents who face similar issues to see how they cope with their allergic children.

What is a food allergy?

Mother, Dietitian and Senior Lecturer at the Division of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch

University, Evette van Niekerk describes food allergy as: “a serious adverse health effect arising from a specific immune reaction that occurs on exposure to a given food. The most common

allergy-causing foods are peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, etc.), dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy.   Various factors may contribute to the development of a food allergy, including exposure to foods, genetics, epigenetics, infections, diet and intestinal micro biota. Fortunately, many children will outgrow these food allergies between the ages of 2 and 5 years.”

My two daughters and I are all intolerant to casein (milk protein) which is a real challenge as it is found in so many types of foods. Monitoring dairy intake was easy when the girls were very little, but became more challenging when they started attending school, play dates and birthday parties. The biggest challenge for us was to ensure that they don’t feel left out or deprived at social events. Clamber Club mom and author of her own cook book, ‘I Must Have That Recipe’, Christelle Burger, feels that other moms could be more understanding of the situation: “I often find other moms either assuming that I must be overreacting or, even worse, turning my child into a “victim” by saying things like “ah shame can she not just have one cookie?” in front of her. Now my child thinks she is missing out on something and I have to contend with the guilt of “depriving” her of a treat, not to mention the puppy eyes.”

“As a healthcare professional, but also as a mother it is important that I educate caregivers, teachers, friends and family members on terminology used to describe different food components and reading of food labels”, says Evette. “It is so essential that care givers and family members need to be able to recognise reactions and know the treatment protocol in an emergency situation.”

“There is a proverb that states: it takes a village to raise a child. This has hit close to home for us. We have very supportive friends and family who do their utmost best to accommodate us at these events. It is endearing to see how people are willing and able to make things a bit easier for a child with allergies so that they are firstly not in potentially dangerous situation but also that they do not feel excluded from the rest of the group due to their dietary limitations,” says Evette who is very grateful: “I would like to thank Sally-Ann Jonker at Durbanville Clamber Club for always ensuring a safe and healthy environment for my daughter to learn and grow.”

*Evette van Niekerk is the mother of 3 year old Amke. She is also a Dietitian and Senior Lecturer at the Division of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Stellenbosch University. Her research focus is paediatric nutrition and she believes that her academic journey has provided her with a solid base to support her family and others living with allergies. At the age of six months their daughter had anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) and after conducting skin-prick tests it was confirmed that she had multiple food allergies. Eating is such a central part of day to day life and therefore being diagnosed with a food allergy had a massive impact on their whole family. As a mother of a child with multiple food allergies she is constantly looking for creative ways to ensure that Amke is always safe, prepared and able to fully participate in all life has to offer.

Brownie Bites

Ingredients: Instructions:
1 Cup almond flour

½ Cup cocoa powder

¼ tsp Baking Soda

Pinch of salt

½ cup coconut oil, melted

½ cup honey

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1.    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease a mini muffin pan

2.    In a medium bowl add all the dry ingredients and combine

3.    In a small bowl beat eggs then add melted coconut oil and the rest of the wet ingredients and mix until combined

4.    Pour wet ingredients into dry and thoroughly incorporate

5.    Spoon mixture into greased mini muffin pans and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until tops have risen and a toothpick inserted comes out clean

6.    Once done, let cool in a pan for about 5-10 minutes

7.    They should come out clean enough for you to gently twist them and pop them out, but if not, take a knife and carefully guide it around the edge and pop them out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling

Christelle can be contacted directly via email: tellejvr@gmail.com for enquiries about her book.

*Evette van Niekerk is the mother of 3 year old Amke. She is also a Dietitian and Senior Lecturer at the Division of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Stellenbosch University. Her research focus is paediatric nutrition and she believes that her academic journey has provided her with a solid base to support her family and others living with allergies. At the age of six months their daughter had anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) and after conducting skin-prick tests it was confirmed that she had multiple food allergies. Eating is such a central part of day to day life and therefore being diagnosed with a food allergy had a massive impact on their whole family. As a mother of a child with multiple food allergies, she is constantly looking for creative ways to ensure that Amke is always safe, prepared and able to fully participate in all life has to offer.

Evette van Niekerk

 

Contributed by Janet Vermeulen from  ClamberClub Toddlers – Durbanville
Tel: 082 372 7703
Email: durbanville@clamberclub.com

Website: www.clamberclub.com 

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