How are you coping with lockdown? In many ways it’s filled with anxiety yet, in terms of food allergies, a lot of the stresses have been taken away. No school. No eating out. No social occasions.
It’s been a challenge to find some safe foods, and the three item rule has been frustrating but overall, I feel like we are living in a little bubble. However, food allergies don’t disappear because of a pandemic and while you are home, there are lots of things you can do to review how you manage them.
Revisit your emergency plan
When the schools closed, we collected the children’s medications and emergency plans. This breathing space lets you revisit yours and make sure they are as clear as possible. Share them again with any family, who have plenty of time to familiarise themselves! We have recently switched to the new BSACI paediatric care plans.
Check your medication
Are your adrenaline injectors all in date? Do you know when they expire? Now is the ideal time to check and record all your medication, and set up expiry alerts. You could also research medication bags, allergy alert bands or ways to streamline your system, like deacanting antihistamine into smaller containers to travel or preparing an emergency bag.
Practise using an adrenaline injector
It is always a good time to practise using your adrenaline injectors! If you don’t have any practise pens, you can order one from the manufactuers. Another fun way is to use an expired pen and inject it into an orange. The kids love doing this and they are never too young to learn how to do it. Letting them handle it also helps to take some of the fear away.
Make a chef card
Eating out with food allergies can be daunting, and although it’s one less thing to worry about in lockdown, it’s a good time to get prepared. A chef card is something that lists all your allergies and you can pass to the manager or chef in a restaurant to limit any miscommunication. There are lots of templates available online or you can create your own.
Experiment in the kitchen
We love baking at the best of times but it is a lovely way to pass the time in lockdown. Get the kids in the kitchen and focus on all the fun foods they can enjoy, rather than what they can’t eat. Now is not the time to experiment with new foods but you can find some new favourite recipes. We made our vegan chocolate cake yesterday – always guaranteed to cheer us up!
Buy a new book
One way to limit your information intake is to focus on trusted sources like Allergy UK and Anaphylaxis Campaign. Another way is to look at printed resources. My book Living With Allergies will help you learn lots in one place, or use a children’s book to start talking to your children about their allergies.
Keep a food and symptoms diary
If you are dealing with non IGE food allergies or are struggling to know what is flaring your child’s eczema, now is a good time to keep a food and symptoms diary. You will have less external factors track and can monitor all their food an activity closely. Many people are experiencing more intense allergy symptoms from high pollen counts, spending more time indoors and stress, so take these into account.
Role play situations
One of the best ways to feel confident about dealing with allergies – whether it’s you or your kids – is to role play different situations. What would you say if someone wasn’t taking them seriously? How would you talk about them to school or colleagues? How would you order a meal or discuss your needs with an airline? My two love setting up their own cafe and then telling asking me about ingredients.
Have a social media detox
Knowledge is power but too much knowledge can make us feel overwhelmed, scared and confused. This is very true during the current pandemic but also applies to allergies. It is natural to want to read everything and join numerous groups but this can be counter productive and leave us drowning in information and other people’s worries. Go through your social media and choose just a handful of support groups to stay in.
Read some blogs
There are some brilliant bloggers sharing their experiences to help people feel more informed and supported dealing with allergies. Some of my favourites are:
What are you doing to manage your allergies during lockdown?