When someone in the family is diagnosed with a food allergy, a choice must be made whether to ban the problem food or foods from the home.
The answer lies not in the black and white zone of right or wrong, but in the current best interests of the family. The safety demands of allergic household members must be weighed against the family’s maturity level, lifestyle, and nutrition needs.
To Ban, Or Not To Ban
Here are four questions to consider when thinking about banning problem foods from your home.
- If problem foods are eliminated will it alter the quality of our home life, and how difficult might the change be for each family member?
- How knowledgeable and experienced is our family in allergy reaction prevention, and emergency management?
- Are my kids too young to avoid problem foods, or are they mature enough to take some responsibility for allergy safety?
- If we ban problem foods from our home, what is our plan for teaching food allergic members how to stay safe outside the home?
Families may not even notice the absence of peanuts from their pantry. However, family members are likely to notice the disappearance of cooking and nutrition staples such as milk, eggs, or wheat—and palatable substitutes will have to be found.
All family members should have an age appropriate understanding of food allergies, reaction symptoms, and what to do in an emergency—including how to use an auto-injector. With these measures in place, some families feel secure enough to allow problem foods in the home.
Also consider whether your family frequently eats meals together. As kids grow up and family members have conflicting schedules, kitchens can turn into a 24/7 grab and go buffet.
Growing up with problem foods in the home can teach allergic kids how to stay safe when they start venturing into the wider world. However, if keeping problem foods in the home is not feasible, there are plenty of age suitable books and education materials available for teaching kids about allergy safety.
Whatever the decision is now, as family members mature and become more confident in managing food allergies the decision to keep or eliminate problem foods can be revisited and revised.