Many important factors affect how you choose to “allergy-proof” your home.
Some families decide to allow problem foods at home, but take precautions to keep the family member who has food allergies safe. Others find it easier to completely ban problem foods.
To decide which approach will work best for you, take a look at your family’s needs and lifestyle. Asking yourself a few questions can help:
- What has our experience been so far with allergic reactions and accidental exposure?
- If we were to completely cut out problem foods, how difficult would it be for other family members?
- How many children are at home, and how old are they? How much responsibility do they normally take for managing the food they eat?
- How will our decision affect the overall quality of our home life?
- If we decide it’s best to ban problem foods at home, how do we teach our child who has food allergies to manage outside the home, in the “real world”?
- If we decide to allow allergen-containing foods at home, how will we teach our child with allergies which foods are safe and unsafe?
Keep these points in mind as you decide how to manage food allergies at home. You may also wish to adjust your family’s approach as children grow older and you gain more experience.
- Some allergens are easier to ban than others. For example, making your home peanut-free isn’t likely to be a hardship for other family members. But milk, egg or wheat may be difficult to eliminate altogether. You can take careful measures to create a safe environment, even if you allow these items in your home.
- Living around problem foods can help children with food allergies cope as they grow and begin to spend more time away from home.
- Learning how to avoid allergens and handle a reaction at home can actually calm fears. It provides the skills people with food allergies need to stay safe, no matter where they are.
- Look at your family environment. Do you usually sit down together for meals at set times? Or does everyone come and go, treating the kitchen like an all-night take-out stand? If it’s the latter, it may be more difficult to avoid problem foods.
- How old is your child with food allergies? How old are their siblings? Age and maturity level play a role in children's readiness to take on the responsibilities of keeping themselves and others safe.