Peanuts 101 for Moms Not Familiar With Peanut Allergies

My child has a peanut allergy. While this is something that we deal with every day, I am focused on not letting this allergy interfere with her daily life. I am against taking the “bubble kid” approach; she goes to school, takes dancing, plays soccer, goes to the playground and anything else a normal kid does.

peanuts

Peanuts 101 for Moms Not Familiar With Peanut Allergies 

Living with a peanut allergy

I can do everything in my power to control what is in our kitchen and on her plate. I keep a watchful eye and am armed with an epi-pen at any given moment. The hardest part of a food allergy is, of course, relying on others. Have you ever tried to explain to a two year old why they can’t have the Halloween candy everyone else can have?

I understand that it is hard for parents of children without peanut allergies to be totally on board with a peanut-free environment. I get it. I am packing the exact same peanut-free snacks and lunches as they are. But I am also reading every label in the grocery store and giving everyone who cares for her the third degree before I leave.

Yes, it is one of the most common allergies. Peanut allergies are on the rise, and there is no explanation for it. Yes, I wish my daughter did not have a peanut allergy, but the reality is that she does. The challenge with peanut allergies as opposed to other allergies is that people with peanut allergies have a higher chance of going into anaphylactic shock. This means their airway closes up and they can die.

Peanut protein is known for being very stable, which means that it stays intact through cooking and baking. This is also a challenge for transfer. For example, if your child ate a peanut butter sandwich and then played on the monkey bars, a child with a peanut allergy who played on those same monkey bars can pick up the peanut protein and have a reaction. Scary, I know.

How to be supportive of a “peanut family”

Most parents are supportive in a “that sucks for you that your child has an allergy, I will try not send peanuts” kinda way. The people around my daughter do their
best to not have peanut butter or peanut products around her. (Shout out to the other moms in her class at school who are so accommodating!)

But if you are not in the trenches with a peanut allergy, you may not know some of the everyday things that we all encounter that contain peanuts. I would say that the number one item we come across is Chick-Fil-A. Most people don’t know that their food is fried in peanut oil. You would be surprised at how many parties and events we have been to that are serving Chick-Fil-A catering platters.

peanut free familyIf you are sending snack or having a party where a peanut kid will be, please read the labels. It only takes one minute, but for the mom of a peanut child to attend a peanut-free event is a true luxury. It means that you can worry just a little less.

Some good snack ideas for peanut allergy kids:fresh fruit, applesauce, Cheez Its, popcorn, cheese cubes, pudding or jello, raisins and Goldfish. Some of our favorite brands also have peanut free processing facilities including GoGoSqueez, Plum Organics, Annie’s and Ella’s Kitchen. All of these are available at Wal-Mart and Target so there is no need for a trip to a specialty store.

Some unexpected places that peanuts are found are:

  • Asian and Mexican foods
  • Pancakes
  • Vegetarian foods
  • Glazes and marinades
  • Pet food
  • Potato chips
  • Packaged cheese
  • Sauces such as chili sauce, hot sauce, pesto, gravy and salad dressings

So how would I know if my child was allergic to peanuts?

If you have not tried peanuts with your child, there are pre-indicators of a peanut allergy. If your baby has a family history of hay fever, asthma, food allergies or eczema, she is at a higher risk to have peanut allergies. Peanuts are actually in the same family as peas. So, when my daughter had a reaction to peas as a baby, we knew she was more likely to have a peanut allergy.

Consult a physician if you believe your child may have a peanut allergy. They can be tested in a safe environment. Unfortunately we found out that Annelise had a peanut allergy on accident. She touched peanut butter on my biscuit and rubbed her eye around 1 ½ years old. Within minutes her eye had swollen shut and her face was scaly and puffy.

A peanut allergy is not something that I wish on any family, but I do hope that I can rely on other moms to be supportive of our situation. I have heard horror stories of other moms sending granola bars for snack and children dying in schools from reactions. It is stories like that that make me want to keep her in a bubble. But I know it is better for our family to not let this allergy hold her back.

FAAW-cooking-for-food-allergy

30 Responses to Peanuts 101 for Moms Not Familiar With Peanut Allergies

  1. karen April 9, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    I applaud you for not trying to but your baby girl in a bubble….its tempting I am sure. I also want to say thank you for the explanation. Although its not necessary, its very helpful for a non peanut allergy parent (such as myself) to understand the gravity of the situation. Thanks for sharing!!

    Also: I had no idea about Chic-fil A!!

  2. Jessie April 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    What an informative post!!
    My son has a couple of “peanut kids” as you called them :), in his class at school so I knew some but not all of what you talked about. I had no idea about the monkey bar protein transfer possibility! That is very scary. Thanks for the list of peanut free brands too. I will remember those for future parties and school events.

  3. Linzy Cotaya April 9, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    Karen and Jessie- Thank you so much for your feedback. I also thank you for your interest!

  4. Ashley April 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    I had no idea about CFA myself. Or the monkey bar transfer possibility. Very scary for families like yours, and I am now so much more sensitive to the importance of this! I will never have a party without thinking of this again, so thank you!

  5. Pam Kocke April 10, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    Great post! I shared this with some friends who have kids with PAs and they shared it to inform their families and friends.

  6. Linzy Cotaya April 10, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Pam I am so glad it was helpful to them! I got a lot of really great feedback on this post from non PA moms and that makes me feel so good that moms are understanding and now more aware of the seriousness of peanut allergies. Thanks for the feedback.

  7. Faith April 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    I am a 38 year old with a severe PA. I can tell you that I agree with everything you wrote here. And let me preface my next comment with the disclosure that the main thing a parent has to deal with with a PA is their own level of comfort. However, I have done extensive research on the issue, and I would suggest that you look at the studies on cold pressed peanut oil vs. refined peanut oil. Most, and again this is a level of comfort thing, PA people can tolerate the type of peanut oil used in a large scale commercial setting (such as CFA and Cheetos). The refining process on peanut oil destroys/removes the protein that causes the allergic reaction. Cold pressed peanut oil is a horse if a different color and is as dangerous as a peanut. I know all about closed doors with a PA. I just had to mention this to you since you seem to be on point with the rest of your article. Good luck with your little crawfish and feel free to email me if you like if you have any questions.

    • Linzy April 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      Faith- Thanks for responding. Yes, I have heard of this with peanut oil. I agree it is a comfort level thing on trying it as well. It makes me quite nervous to let my daughter try things that may give her a reaction. A little boy in my daughter’s class can’t have peanut oil period or things processed in a plant with peanuts such as M&Ms. But my daughter can have things such as Cheetos and M&M. I think some of it is how allergic they are as well.

      This was a good point and I appreciate you bringing it up! I am glad to know you are 38 and doing just fine with your PA.

  8. Beth April 10, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    Linzy- I had no idea about the connection to a green pea reaction and a peanut allergy. My oldest had a green pea reaction when she was 4 months old, and sure enough EIGHT years later her peanut allergy was discovered! Mike discovered that only the fried chicken at CFA is cooked in peanut oil. The fries are cooked in something else that I cannot recall right now. Since my kids’ allergy is not severe, I took a chance and we tried the grilled chicken meal and no reactions! I still worry about contamination since I know peanut oil is there, but so far it has been ok. Great article, btw! The outside world is such a scary place for our kiddos!

    • Linzy Cotaya April 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

      Beth
      There is so much to worry about with PA. I found out about the connection between peas and peanuts from our allergist. When Annelise tested positive for a green pea allergy around 8 months, he gave us a heads up on this.

      We had her tested for peas because her little face would turn bright red every time she ate peas. It was actually really cute but I am sure not fun for her.
      Thanks for the feedback!
      Linzy

  9. HeatherBD April 11, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Also, as parents of children who do not have any food allergies, but want to support and be careful of those who do, I think we all need to push a little for more peanut free options in the U.S.

    It only takes a few minutes to call Quaker and Mars and other companies and say, “Hey, I have to buy peanut free snacks for my child’s school and birthday parties and such and I was wondering why you don’t offer those products in the U.S. Quaker granola bars, Mars candies and tons of other foods are produced and packaged in peanut free factories in Canada and sold there and in Europe. There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to have the same things here. I live in a very small town and our Walmart does not carry those brands mentioned, they have very few options here so it’s constantly goldfish and fruit for snacks in these schools. I would love to be able to have easy other options of my child’s favorite snacks when he is taking things to school to share.

    • Linzy April 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

      Heather
      I appreciate your support! You are right we should be able to have the same things here. I am sorry your Wal-Mart does not carry the brands I mentioned. I see more stores carrying these products so hopfully your store will soon. I feel that all of the sudden they are increasing in popularity because most of these brands are organic as well so hopefully Wal-Mart will get on board.

      Thank you for being so considerate of PA kids!

      Linzy

    • penny August 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

      You should really check out premiumchocolatiers.com they sell some of the most amazing tasting allergy friendly chocolates and candy. they have school size options as well.

  10. Amber April 13, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    Thanks for the info. Linzy. I don’t know if Nathaniel has an allergy yet, but introducing him to new foods, while exciting, is also scary.

  11. Elizabeth April 15, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    Linzy, thank you so much for this post & letting us know how to be supportive of a those with a peanut allergy. I will certainly take this into consideration when planning birthday parties, entertaining, etc! Good info to have!

  12. Carrey April 24, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    Linzy,

    As a mom of a son with a peanut (and every other nut under the sun) allergy I truly appreciate your post. I am a local mom, who also refuses to live in the bubble….but the hardest part is educating people I encounter everyday. I always approach “education” on peanut allergies to other moms, teachers, classmates, family in the most respectful and non-intimidating way. I really appreciate your article and how “approachable” you made the allergy to those who have little experience with it. It is an everyday challenge….getting harder each day as my little guy gets older…but I do believe that with education out there like this article that we can make a difference. I wish you all the best with your allergy…
    Would love to keep in touch…it is always great to be able to have resources out there when we have questions.
    Many thanks!!

    • Linzy April 25, 2013 at 7:15 am #

      Carrey
      I am so glad that you enjoyed the article! I really appreciate the feedback. I agree that it does get harder as the kids get older, more mobile and want to do more things.

      I would love to connect and I realized in your website address that I am a customer of yours. Reach out anytime so we can share resources, [email protected].

      Thanks for reading!

  13. Karen August 16, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    Thanks for such a great article! I have two boys with numerous food allergies, peanut being one of them. We used to eat at Chick-Fil-A with no problems. Then my niece, who also had a peanut allergy, had a reaction while eating their chicken we decided it just wasn’t worth the risk anymore. One thing in the comments concerned me though and I had to mention it. Plain M&M’s are a ‘may contains’ or ‘made in a facility with’ item for peanuts. One of my son’s was given plain M&Ms before and did not have a reaction. From what I have read over the 10 years I’ve studied food allergies, I believe that there is only like a 7-20% chance that the item with a warning label for peanuts will actually have traces of it in it. So, although you could probably eat plain M&Ms and have a 93% chance of never reacting, it’s not worth the 7% that you could die to me. I’d rather just give them something that I KNOW will not contain the traces of peanuts. We are limited but there are still tons of things that they can have. Another thing that concerned me was that popcorn and raisins are safe. I’ve seen some popcorns with traces and also raisins (usually the yogurt ones) with traces. Hope this helps!

    • penny August 19, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

      theres this wonderful allergy friendly site that we are really into right now called premiumchocolatiers.com I feel like shouting it out to all of you out there because its so awful for all those kids out there to be missing out on the holidays when they can be having such great candy (milk free, nut free, gluten free, egg free) . they are currently working on a m and m type product and are raising money for the machinery. we should all try and support them in this venture so our kids can FINALLY have something like m&m’s. I am posting a link to their kickstarter campaign, If you back them they will send you chocolate so its a win, win!!
      http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1330686256/americas-candy-all-natural-vegan-and-allergy-frien?ref=home_location

  14. Spencer December 17, 2013 at 1:28 am #

    Hi there I know I’m not a mom I’m sry lol but I’m a 22 year old male and I have had Seaver peanut allergy all my life.but to the point I was wondering ab the Cheetos. Because I have ate them all my life and I guess they never bothered me.if anyone would be kind and answer me I would be very thank ful

  15. Derilynn August 14, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    Hi Linzy! I am a fellow PA (and TN and Sesame) momma. I’m going to be passing through New Orleans soon and I’m wondering if you have any allergy-friendly restaurant recommendations? I’ve been googling for the past hour (which is how I stumbled upon your blog post), but I’m having a tough time finding a restaurant that may be able to accommodate my kiddos allergies for breakfast. I realize this is somewhat off-topic, but any recommendations would be appreciated! 🙂

  16. Heather September 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    My daughter has a peanut allergy and we carry an dpi-pen but she can actually eat Chick Fil A with no problem. Whole Foods is actually a great place to find peanut-free products, it is a far bigger selection than Walmart or Target.

  17. Crystal Davis September 4, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    I have no idea, personally, what it’s like to be mother to an allergic child. My oldest had a sensitivity to polyester as a baby but that is about the extent of my experience. When my son started preschool one of his classmates had a peanut/treenut allergy. All the parents were asked to not sent any but items with their kids’ lunches. At the time my son was on a peanut butter and honey sandwich kick. He didn’t want to eat anything else. The day I got the news about the allergic classmate I immediately went out and spent over an hour shopping for peanut/treenut free lunch alternatives. When Halloween rolled around I went through ingredient labels for every single candy in the store. What blew MY mind and filled me with rage for the poor kid and his mom was that I, apparently, was the only person beside his teacher who did that. I asked the teacher about it the next day only to find out that I was the only one that had showed consideration for this child’s allergies from the beginning. I sent fruit for class snacks where other parents sent cookies made either with peanuts or in peanut friendly factories. I did a complete overhaul on my son’s lunch even though my son was the most attached to his peanut butter sandwich. I sent allergy safe candy so that the allergic boy could enjoy the same Halloween party as all his classmates. I just couldn’t understand why the other parents had such a hard time doing these things. I could, though, very well understand why the child was not reenrolled the following year to that school. Which is a shame because it is a great school. I felt, and still two years later feel so bad for that little boy whose life wasn’t worth a little inconvenience and his mom who probably felt powerless to make his world fair.

  18. Becca Roberts September 4, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    Very informative and helpful! We have a child with peanut allergies in our homeschool co-op class this year and it is good to know what snacks are safe for me to pack my kids. Thanks for the wonderful article!

  19. Sherry lifewithallergies.net September 14, 2014 at 6:25 am #

    I would have never known about the Peanut Protein transfer until I have read your blog. It if very informative and it sure is scary especially after reading about anaphylactic shocks which caused serious deaths to some.

  20. Elizabeth November 17, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    While not meant for human consumption, we found out that some baited ant traps were baited with peanut butter. Thank goodness my son’s peanut allergy is not so severe, but those with severe allergies that have reaction to the scent of peanuts should be aware of this.

  21. Lesley June 9, 2016 at 11:36 am #

    Linzy, I came across your article and I am looking for an Allergy Dr. in the NOLA area that is really helpful when it comes to food allergies and wont push nose sprays. Do you have a Dr. that you can recommend?
    Thanks!

  22. katy August 29, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

    Chick-fil-A fried nuggets are actually generally considered safe for those with a peanut allergy. Our pediatric allergist told us that highly refined peanut oil, which is what Chick-fil-A uses, is safe because it doesn’t contain peanut protein, which is what those allergic to peanuts would react to. Check with your allergist to verify, but it’s been safe for my son and many friends, too. See the bullet point on highly refined peanut oil at https://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/peanut-allergy.

    Unrefined, “gourmet”, “aromatic”, or cold pressed oils are the oils that may still contain the proteins that cause allergy, so stay away from those.

  23. katy August 29, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    This Q&A at Allergic Living addresses the refined peanut oil question, too: http://allergicliving.com/2013/12/30/is-peanut-oil-safe-or-not/

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