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Coping with childhood allergies as a family

If you have a child who has been diagnosed with a food allergy it 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 to help cope when your child has a food allergy:

Strength in numbers

One in four children in the U.S. has a food allergy 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 helps reinforce to your child that restaurants aren't places to be afraid of. Most restaurants have nutrition facts available for 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 child who requires 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 your child's allergy.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

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