The reality of food allergies
My daughter has life threatening food allergies to eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish. We have always taken the attitude that even though life-threatening food allergies are categorized by IDEA law (Individuals with Disability Education Act) as a disability– we were not going to limit her activities. If she was interested in a class or program we would figure out a way to make that happen.
Enter- the high school swim team.
We quickly realized that a swim team = A LOT of food. These kids need to eat a bunch of calories to be able to have the energy required to swim 2 1/2 hours a day, 6 days a week for practice–let alone swim meets! My daughter swims the 500-yard freestyle event which is 20 laps of the pool… you need fuel for that kind of endurance.
Nut products are easy to grab, high in protein and calories, and could send my daughter to the hospital in an ambulance if she came in contact with them. That may sound overly dramatic, but the reality of the situation is that even touching a nut or a surface contaminated with peanut oil could send her into
That may sound overly dramatic, but the reality of the situation is that even touching a nut or a surface contaminated with peanut oil could send her into anaphylactic shock, she would need an Epi-Pen injection and she would have to be rushed to the ER in an ambulance.
That would not be the best way to end a swim meet that’s for sure!
Food Allergy Activity Plan in 5 easy steps
#1 We met with the coaches, teammates and set emails to parents to educate them about her food allergies.
#2 We updated her 504 medical plan to include instruction about how to handle after school activities.
#3 I put together this simple Food Allergy Activity Plan to allow other parents, coaches and friends to be able to still supply allergy friendly snacks and treats for meets. Feel free to use this idea for your own children or students!
Click here: Food Allergy Activity Plan Handout
#4 Ongoing communication is absolutely necessary in order to keep our food allergy kiddos safe. We can not assume all of this is taken care of. We have to be constantly reminding coaches, teachers, and trainers of the dangers associated with food allergies.
#5 Share your story. It’s hard to talk about the times Sammie has almost lost her life because of her food allergies. This is not a part of our lives we share frequently or in detail, but opening up and sharing our story has more impact than any activity plan or 504. Let other adults and kids hear the fear in your voice. Give them the opportunity to react with kindness and compassion.
Free Service for BWAL readers:
Putting together a food allergy activity plan is an individual process. Every kid’s food allergies are different and the severity of their reactions range from only having issues if the food is consumed to it being in the air.
As a free service to my readers, I am happy to edit the format of this handout to your child’s specific needs– I can even change the colors so easily! Just fill out this form and I’ll be in touch. Right now my turn around on this free service is just a few days so if you have an upcoming sport or activity and want some extra training materials– I’m happy to help!
Just email me a few details through this form and I’ll be in touch to get the specifics.
As always, feel free to pass this along to any other food allergy parents. We don’t have to be alone in this effort to keep our kids safe.