Saturday, 16 January 2016

May Contain Nuts!

I wonder if when you see this title you are expecting to read about strange people? Yes, I could write a story or two about them but this is a post about an allergy.

My two year old youngest granddaughter is allergic to nuts. It was discovered when she was just under a year old and my son (her father) let her taste a little bit of peanut butter,he just put it on her lip.
She immediately had a reaction,swelling of lips and face,screaming, rash. Later she had the tests and the diagnosis was that she was allergic to peanuts but had to avoid all nuts or nut products just to be safe. Her mum was given an appointment to come back in for about 18 mths. She was also told,"She's a child,you control what goes in her mouth."
 Nice! and obviously not from someone who has to take care of a crawling toddler who puts things in her mouth or who will attend a playgroup where some other child might give her a taste of something.

 When her father was a child peanut butter was one of his favourite foods. He was a fussy eater and when taking a packed lunch to school a peanut butter sandwich was the only thing he would eat. That wouldn't be allowed in schools now as so many children are allergic to nuts.
So far it has been manageable but as she gets older and is now attending playgroup and soft play and birthday parties her mum has to be even more vigilant.
She also hit the terrible twos a while before reaching that magic age and been know to throw some amazing tantrums for no reason whatsoever. These are the times which worry her mum as she always wonders if she has touched something with peanuts or put something in her mouth. She is inconsolable during these tantrums and it's no wonder her mum thinks she's having some kind of reaction so it's very worrying.

When she comes to stay at our house with her sister who's now four I spend a few days beforehand reading labels on foodstuffs and what drives me mad is, " May Contain Traces of Nuts"
What? It either does or it doesn't, get your act together manufacturers. This carries on through a wide range of foodstuffs, yogurts, biscuits,cakes,ice cream, ice lollies, sauces, chocolate, shampoos and bodywash. These are not nut flavoured but it seems that nuts can be used as a thickener or it may be that something made with nuts has gone through the machine before. I find myself asking her older sister if mum gives her the things I have in my cupboard or fridge and she's very good at telling me.

I have always baked with her older sister and for quickness I buy packet cake mixes usually themed like Frozen, Peppa Pig or Mickey Mouse. On reading the packet,yes you've guessed," May Contain Traces of Nuts." 
I have now started to bake cakes the sensible way, weighing flour and butter and sugar and that means that both of them can eat the cakes when they're ready. The little one doesn't usually eat cakes as her mum doesn't bake and a cake is hard to find that doesn't have a warning on it. When she was given a cake that she had helped bake her face was one of happiness as she devoured it.
 Bad Grandma!

I think manufacturers should stop saying "May Contain " and clean their machines properly or use a different machine to produce products without traces of nuts.
I feel so sorry for mums with children who are allergic to multiple foodstuffs it must be a nightmare trying to find the right products.

It has been relatively easy to hide treats from the youngest and give the oldest the occasional treat behind her back but as she gets older it will be impossible.
I have started thinking about what I can bake or make with her in mind. I would like to try and make ice cream myself then I could be sure it had no traces of nuts. 
Our local fish and chip shop has a counter with a range of delicious ice creams . I had a chat to the assistant and we found a raspberry ripple one that didn't say anything about nuts so I tried her with a small amount at first and she was fine with it. It was a great treat for her.
The assistant I spoke with told me her son is allergic to many things contained in food, dairy, gluten, E-numbers,wheat,nuts...the list goes on.
It surely must be the way food is processed now that so many children are allergic to so many things. It looks like we should all get back to basic and have a cleaner diet. I don't remember hearing of anyone being allergic to anything when I was young or my children were young except perhaps eggs.
I read an article that says instead of not giving your child anything containing nuts until after a year old they have found that if babies are given nut flavoured foods three times a week it prevents most of them becoming allergic. This is of course contrary to what mums have recently been advised.

The little one is due back at the hospital this summer and I really hope she will grow out of the allergy. I don't know how her mum copes with it but the worry I have when she stays with me will have me going nuts soon.


She has a little bracelet like this which is a great idea and can be bought from Amazon or eBay.



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