I label all the food in my pantry. Yup, all of it. Bear with me, I promise I’m not crazy. I’m still trying to make things easier for us food allergy parents at home.
When my son was first diagnosed with food allergies, feeding him instantly became nerve wracking. With so many different food allergies to manage, I had found myself reading and re-reading and re-reading the same boxes of food to make sure the ingredients were safe. At that point, my husband didn’t yet have as good a handle on my son’s situation and felt uncomfortable giving him anything without my stamp of approval. Trying to navigate my pantry was daunting for both of us!
I began labeling all the food in the house. I read all of the ingredient lists on all of the food in my pantry and stuck a bright sticker on the front of the safe foods with a note that read, “OK for [my son’s name]” on it.
How on earth does that make my life more simple, you’re wondering? Well, for starters, I only had to go through the pantry once. Now, I just add a sticker to the safe foods as I unpack them from the market.
Also, the labels have several advantages:
1. My husband is not thrown off when a new food is introduced to the household (and importantly will not require my help when, for example, my son is hungry and I’m out or – god forbid – in the shower!);
2. The labels ensure that babysitters and other caregivers will be less likely to make a mistake feeding my child in our house — which means I can have a better, more relaxed time while out;
3. Although we do not have any nuts or peanuts in the house, the labeling system allows those of us who are not food allergic to enjoy some snacks that my allergic son can’t have yet. I still prefer regular milk to soy myself and it’s hard to kick that ice-cream habit….
4. As my son grows up, he can safely pick out snacks for himself. I love to see his confidence when he can do new things for himself; and
5. Finally, I won’t go insane by rereading all of those ingredient lists over and over and over.
Your sanity is just a bonus. You’ll thank me later!