Coping with kids and food allergies may initially seem like a daunting task. But, luckily for parents, there is an organization that can help. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) was founded in 1991 by Anne Muñoz-Furlong. Her infant daughter was diagnosed with a milk and egg allergy. As a result, she wanted to create an organization to help other families who were going through the same trials and tribulations.
FAAN has created two websites designed to help kids cope with food allergies. The first site features Alexander the elephant, Lenny the lion, Sally the seal, Sophie the elephant, and Terry the owl. These friendly animals provide educational information on a child’s level. A second site is available for teens and young adults. Again, the information is presented in age appropriate ways. This is very important, as kids will experience different challenges in coping with food allergies as they grow up.
Muñoz-Furlong says it’s completely normal for parents to feel overwhelmed when their child is diagnosed with a food allergy. However, she assures parents, “It does get better!”
She advises that creating a team at your child’s school is a good start in getting everyone on the same page. For example, the key players on your child’s team include the principal, teachers, school nurse, cafeteria workers, and anyone else who will be involved with your child. As the child gets older, he or she will learn how to cope with the food allergy. But when the child is younger, having a team on hand to help is extremely beneficial.
Muñoz-Furlong says planning ahead is very important when traveling or eating at a restaurant. She emphasizes the importance of speaking with a manager or person in charge. Many restaurants and travel destinations are able to accommodate those with food allergies. Calling ahead of time is the best way to confirm that the restaurant can accommodate your food requests.
Involving your child early on in the process helps them prepare to manage it on their own as they get older. Don’t focus on foods the child can’t eat, focus on the foods he or she can. To bring this point home, FAAN recently published a wonderful cookbook called Cooking Together: Allergy-Free Recipes for Parents and Kids. The cookbook features delicious recipes with easy to read allergy symbols at the top of each recipe.
All of the education materials provided by FAAN are approved by a fourteen member medical advisory board, which includes leaders in food allergy science and medicine. You can be assured that you are getting correct and accurate information.
Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Anne Muñoz-Furlong and everyone else involved with FAAN, families coping with food allergies have amazing resources from the click of a mouse to a simple phone call. For more information, you can reach them at: (800)929-4040 or visit their website: Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network