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Coping with childhood allergies as a family

Having a child diagnosed with a food allergy can be terrifying, bringing out all your protective instincts. All the situations you can't control run through your mind: school, camp, birthday parties, sleepovers, vacations, you name it. Here are five things to keep in mind.

Strength in numbers
One in four children in the U.S. suffers from allergies, so you're not alone in your worrying, Googling and label-checking.

Plan for the worst
The more prepared you are for every day outings, the more you'll be able to enjoy activities.

B.Y.O.
Prepare snacks and options for your child to have on hand when he or she is going somewhere. It always helps to communicate with a parent or guardian about your child's allergies to reinforce the importance of not sharing food.

Talk to the chef
Eating out and socializing help reinforce to your child that restaurants aren't places to be afraid of. Most restaurants have nutrition facts available for their menu items and point out which menu items are for a restrictive diet. Servers and chefs are used to people inquiring about ingredients, so don't feel ashamed!

Know what you're comfortable with
Balancing an allergen-free home and family life can be tricky when there are multiple mouths to feed and only one requiring a restrictive diet. Some will make their home a nut/shellfish/soy/dairy/wheat-free place, which isn't always the most popular decision, but can be the safest. Have a family meeting, taking into consideration the severity of the allergy.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

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