Talking Allergies

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Author:  brendalw [ Thu May 07, 2009 10:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Sports


I just wanted some advice re: sports & allergies. My son is playing outdoor soccer for the first time. We had previously signed him up for indoor soccer because there were no snacks. He has had some serious contact reactions previously.

How do you deal with snack time? I bring my son his own snack always. We plan on leaving if anyone brings one of his severe allergens as a snack. His coach has been really good & asked the parents to bring fruit & veggies but the first mom brought some nut free granola bars which was great but contained one of his allergens. What would you do? We left.

I was thinking of asking the kids to wipe down their hands with wipes but I'm thinking that might not be adequate enough. How do you get a dozen kids to wipe their hands properly? I think we'd better just leave. What do you think?

What about the hand shaking at the end of the games? I wiped his hands down throughly right after. Was that good enough or should we skip the hand shaking?


Author:  walooet [ Fri May 08, 2009 12:44 am ]
Post subject: 

I think education is what is needed if the parents bring snacks that are not safe. The kids usually do not care. Are there a few items that you could list that could be an option? Specifics wherever possible seem to help - e..,g. specific brand and at which stores

The hand shaking has always bothered me too. The first few games after my daughter had her anaphylactic reaction I watched her intensely after the hand shaking. I almost think she would rather have a reaction then stick out for not doing the hand shaking but she is 12.

At work I don't shake hands and just do the fist pound and most of the students know that and don't even extend their hand anymore.

Personally, I could do without food at social/sporting events, hand shaking or kisses on the cheek!

Author:  Julie [ Fri May 08, 2009 6:58 am ]
Post subject: 

Brenda, Your son has some similar allergies to our son. So far, most parents have been pretty good with bringing safe snacks, but we always come prepared with our own. It depends on your comfort level, but we always stay afterwards and come well prepared. We make sure he is safe to eat, and has something safe to eat - if need be. We do stay even if the other kids are eating something he can't. When it comes time to eat, I look like a neurotic mom, but I don't care - we need to do this to keep him safe, and I've found people to be very understanding - and shocked when they hear our son's list of allergens. If our son is at a sporting event (he plays baseball, soccer, hockey, skis, etc.), we always bring along a suitable snack, water, drink and wipes. We make sure he does not touch ANYTHING except his own safe area and his own food. It's the same when he goes to a birthday party - I'll brng along a large cloth napkin for him to eat on, wipes, make sure he washes his hands and all of his own safe food (he can never eat anything at a birthday party either). I speak to the parents ahead of time to bring along similar food, but at sporting events, I just ask him to choose what he wants ahead of time. If my son ever accidentally touches something outside his "safe" area, we make sure he washes his hands again and use another wipe once he's seated. He is WAY better at this now that he's 7 - plus he hates having to go wash his hands AGAIN! When he was younger, we needed to protect the area where he was sitting as well, because he used to touch everything!

Good luck with whatever you decide. You have to feel comfortable and it depends on how your son will feel if he's eating something different. I don't know why, but our son doesn't have a problem with it when he's eating something he enjoys. Now that he's older, we offer him a few choices of what he can bring, and if he's the one that has chosen it, he is fine to eat it.

Author:  brendalw [ Fri May 08, 2009 10:22 am ]
Post subject: 

Walooet, my son's coach said he'll talk to the parents if it happened again & ask for fruits & veggies again. He doesn't agree with telling people what they can bring so I don't think a safe snack list would go over. I offered. I supplied my email address & phone number for the parents so they could call me if they had any questions.
I think we'll try to skip the hand shaking from now on. I guess we'll just leave after the game. I'll give it a try & see what happens. My son is so young, he might just go along with it. I agree with you about doing without food at sporting events. If they can play inside for an hour without food, why can't they do the same outside? Oh well, at least my son gets to play with his friends.

Julie, how do you make sure your son doesn't touch anything? My son is constantly playing with the other little boys, touching hands, shirts, etc. He's very young though & still puts his hands in his mouth sometimes. I talk to him about it every time he does it but he still does it. I wipe his hands thoughly before he eats. He has eczema so we don't use the soap in the portapotties. I use wipes for that also. Do you wipe your son's hands every time he touches something like another child or the ball?

Author:  Julie [ Fri May 08, 2009 6:41 pm ]
Post subject: 

Brenda, Your son is still very young. There is a big difference between a 5 year old and a 7 year old. We definitely find it MUCH easier now in terms of our son not touching everything - he used to, and I would keep taking him to the washroom to wash his hands AGAIN, and I would go through a lot of wipes. (Like I said, I look the neurotic mother!!) The only time we let our son eat in social situations is when it's very well controlled and supervised by us - we are always there watching him when he's eating. He has to be seated at a birthday party, we wipe down the place where he's going to sit, and watch him like a HAWK! Believe me, it's not relaxing for us as the parents when he's eating, but he SO enjoys the social aspect of these things - including the food, even though we bring all of his food. Of course we talk to him a lot about eating safely at these events. This has never happened to us at a sporting event or birthday party, but I think if there were nuts present and a lot of contact with the kids, and eating, I don't think we would stay. At one of the birthday parties we were at recently, there were hot dogs with sesame buns, and I was pretty stressed about it. (that's the only time that happened, and I wasn't expecting the hot dog buns to be laden with sesame seeds!) But, as usual, I watched him like a hawk and if I see anything unsafe, we make sure he is either no longer to eat, or he is moved - whatever it takes. We also tell the kids sitting around him to be careful. Honestly, once kids are old enough, they are truly amazing around kids with food allergies (well, maybe teenagers aren't - we're not there yet, so I don't know.)

We are just very very careful and watch our son like crazy. I'm always glad when the food is done with. I'm sure you'll find that by the time your son reaches the age of 7, it will be easier. You really need to gauge your own child's ability to manage in these situations, and if he's not quite ready, it's best to be safe and leave.

Author:  walooet [ Fri May 08, 2009 11:21 pm ]
Post subject: 

Julie wrote:
... Honestly, once kids are old enough, they are truly amazing around kids with food allergies (well, maybe teenagers aren't - we're not there yet, so I don't know.) ... .

I work with teenagers and they all know about my daughter's allergies and when someone hasn't been in my car before the others will tell them no eating and will ask if they have eaten nuts :D These teenagers don't even know my daughter but they are considerate! I posted elsewhere about challenges with colognes for me and the high school students have been very good about it. (took some a few times but then they haven't worn it again)

My daughter's friends are incredible about the allergies and they educate their parents! They have all been trained on the epipen too.

Author:  brendalw [ Mon May 11, 2009 10:58 pm ]
Post subject: 

My son had a major meltdown tonight at soccer. He ate supper first. I packed his own snack & drink. I even asked him what he wanted for a snack & packed it. The other kids had watermelon & cheese sticks. He started crying. I told him that I would give him some watermelon when we got home. He then asked for bananas which I didn't have. He had a temper tantrum & we had to leave. I feel so bad for the little guy because of his allergies but he can't have a major temper tantrum (screaming, kicking, hitting) either. Please advise. I told him that I know it's hard but he can't behave like this & if it happens again I will take him out of soccer. He really wants to play with his friends. Is this too much for him at his age? Am I asking too much for him to deal with this? He has to deal with it for all the parties & birthdays at school already.

Author:  walooet [ Mon May 11, 2009 11:55 pm ]
Post subject: 

Why do they have to have a snack? Can the kids not make it through 1 hour?

I think it is reasonable to let the families know how difficult it is for your son to not be a part of the team. Could there be a snack once in a while that you provide? Or if they only bring fruit and you could bring your own if necessary.

It's about time food is not the main way for people to socialize!

Author:  gwentheeditor [ Tue May 12, 2009 9:57 am ]
Post subject: 

Personally, I could do without food at social/sporting events, hand shaking or kisses on the cheek!

Strongly agree. From allergies to swine flu, I think we should be moving past handshakes and cheek smacks. Culture change, anyone?

Author:  _Susan_ [ Tue May 12, 2009 3:00 pm ]
Post subject: 

Talk to the coaches. When our daughter was 5-6 her soccer team ended practice/game sessions with slices of oranges. I suppose it is thought that the players would be thirsty and need a healthy snack.

Your coaches should already be aware of his food alergies. Perhaps you can come up with a solution.

Honestly, they should be fine with just H2O!

Author:  Julie [ Tue May 12, 2009 8:39 pm ]
Post subject: 

I absolutely agree - they don't need food at these games. Why is there food absolutely everywhere? It really drives me crazy because we, as a family, are very health conscious, and food is brought out all the time - like our kids are going to STARVE during the one hour playing soccer?! It's pretty much impossible to tell a young child that they cannot eat when all the other children are eating, so, even though it goes against my thinking on this (ie. our kids will not starve when they participate in sport) I try to have something available for these social and sport occasions because I know it's inevitable - the food will be coming out. We feed our kids very well when we are on our own time, and we teach them about healthy eating, but it seems sport and eating now go hand-in-hand.

Brenda, I feel so badly for your son - poor little guy. I'm sure my daughter would have had a meltdown too - she and her brother are just different personalities. My son is okay with having a different snack, but I'm sure many kids are not. Why don't you ask your son what he would like to do... maybe he's still to young to ask? But maybe if he feels he has some control over his choice in this, he'll be able to enjoy his time playing soccer & spending time with his friends. He's still very young, I think, to not be upset by this. I wonder if he would prefer to leave when snack comes out or to try choosing a snack (I know this is what you tried, but maybe he would be willing to try this again?)

This is the email I sent to my son's soccer coach regarding food allergies and snacks:
Dear Coach:
Subject: Food Allergies

Please feel free to forward this email to the parents on the team.

Because the kids are sharing snacks, we need to let you know that our son has food allergies (not to scare anyone, but yes, they are life-threatening). He has quite a few, and some of them are not common (we didn't know a person could be allergic to some of these foods until our son). We always come prepared with our son's food and drink, so we don't want anyone to feel pressure or to feel obligated to provide safe food for a child with food allergies, so if anyone has any concerns with the food they are providing, please don't hesitate to talk to us. It's not a problem at all, and we understand it is not easy to prepare food for a person with several food allergies. The concern with providing cut up fruit is if the cutting board or knife might have been used to cut up some of the food he is allergic to - even just a trace amount is dangerous (eg. one sesame seed). Our son is accustomed to eating his own food and it doesn't bother him, but if it's safe to join in, we will be happy to let him to do so.

Of concern for this group are the fruits our son is allergic to, so I will list them first. Our son is allergic to pineapple and watermelon, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, fish, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, mustard, and green peas. The fruits our son can eat that parents may choose to provide at the games are cantelope, honeydew, oranges, grapes, apples, pears. But please don't feel obligated!!

Thank you.
We will only feed our son the fruit if we truly feel the family "gets it" - as it turns out, we know 4 of the families on the team, and one of them has a child with a peanut allergy, so we know they "get it". But, if we're unsure, our son will be eating his own fruit.

Brenda, I hope you have a better outing with your son and his soccer next time. It's tough - we're all living this, and we understand. Please keep us updated, and good luck with the next time out!

Author:  walooet [ Tue May 12, 2009 10:15 pm ]
Post subject: 

Fabulous letter Julie! I really like the wording.

It is much easier at the older ages because kids don't eat at the games very often. The challenge becomes tournaments where they are there for hours and need to eat.

I still vote for the No Food for one game!

Author:  _Susan_ [ Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:25 am ]
Post subject: 

We just started the summer soccer last week and so far the food conversation via e-mail has gone like this:
Parent A: "Should we arrange snack for the kids for after the game?

Why don't I start first and will bring popsicles for this Thursday June 4"

Me: "Sharing a treat after the game is a great way for the kids to bond as a team and they do get hot and thirsty out there!

Please, feel free to share treats after the game but don't offer one to Rachel. She has severe allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs and most legumes makes it difficult to participate safely in this activity.

We'll participate in the snack rotation so that she can offer a snack in her turn and we'll also bring something for her to all the games.
Thanks for understanding,"

Parent B: "if you tell us exactly what she can eat and likes I'm sure we can include her, we don't want anyone left out"

Me:"Thank you so much for wanting to include her! I think most people mean well but it's a huge learning curve if you haven't had to deal with it before. (small amounts can cause an anaphylaxis reaction and so we have to be aware of cross contamination...)

The only frozen treat I've found so far is Minute Maid's frozen treat bars (Which I found at Food Basic's last week.)

Other than that, she can have fresh fruit of any kind provided it is cut with a clean knife on a well scrubbed cutting board."

We shall see how it goes, meanwhile, I will still bring a (hidden) treat for her just in case...

Author:  kmommy [ Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:56 pm ]
Post subject: 

My son plays soccer and the snack they have at he break in the middle of the game is oranges. My son is allergic, knows he's allergic, and eats his own snack from home. He washes up after his snack and after the hand shake/slap at the end of the game. We are really lucky that he hasn't had any reactions as a result. I really wish our society wasn't so wrapped around food. It sure would make it easier for all of us!

Author:  gwentheeditor [ Wed Jun 03, 2009 4:30 pm ]
Post subject: 

A friend of mine, who's children aren't even allergic, was just saying recently that the soccer snack thing is out of control.

Her kids eat by 5:15 for a 6 p.m. game. Why, she asks, do they need a big snack by 7 p.m.?

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