Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Traveling With A Food Allergic Child

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As you may have noticed (and someone astutely pointed out) it looks like we were moving instead of going on vacation. A lot of that had to do with my sons food allergies. I had to bring a lot of “safe” food for him, because he is still little and a picky eater and also because his food allergies are so numerous. All of the “dry” goods are packed in our car. We brought cereal, safe pasta, tomato sauce, snacks, flour mix to make pizza crust, safe bread, raisins, shelf stable soy milk, etc. I also packed a cooler with Silk Soy Yogurt because I didn’t know where I could score any in Ocean City. The other food items that needed to stay cold would be bought once we got there. I map quested the local grocery from the hotel and I already had called ahead to Ocean City Organics to make sure that they had his safe waffles, soy ice cream and margarine. Throw in things like fresh fruit and he should be able to eat for the time we were there.
I did check out local restaurants to see if anything looked like it would be able to accommodate us, and the only thing that looked promising was a steak house. Unfortunately he won’t eat steak and he’s very picky about his chicken (he’s 3 so it goes with the territory) so that was out. The other thing that looked like a “maybe” was Dippin Dots. They have a sherbet ice cream that looked safe for his allergens, but I wouldn’t know for sure until we got there. Dippin Dots ice cream is little balls of cryo-frozen ice cream and if you’ve ever been there you can see that as they scoop them out, they roll around and get in the other ice cream containers. So unless they opened a new container for him and used a clean scooper or unless they had something prepackaged, Dippin Dots was out too. It was out. When I asked if they had anything safe for food allergies, the young girl gave me a blank stare and said “Um, I don’t know”. Oh well.
I also e-mailed the OC Chamber of Commerce to see if they knew of any allergy friendly restaurants or restaurants that catered to food intolerances and they e-mailed me back saying that they had no idea what I was talking about.
The other thing I did was to e-mail the hotel about a month before our vacation and inquire if their restaurant was able to accommodate his allergies. I never got a reply so I assumed that it was a no go and my comfort level with the restaurant was 0 at that point. I did look on the menu and the only thing that looked safe was bacon. I bought bacon at the grocery store any way so there was no point in pursuing the matter.
Even though we stayed in an efficiency suite and all of the pots, pans, and appliances would be there, I still have to bring my own. I brought our own toaster for the waffles. Their toaster would have toasted “regular” bread and would have been contaminated. I also brought our own pizza pan, mixing spoons, measuring cups etc. to be on the safe side.
The last “food” issue I had to think of was “what is he going to eat on the trip there and back” (a 9 hour car ride)? The most popular restaurant along the freeway is McDonald’s and he can’t eat there. So I packed a picnic lunch instead and we stopped to eat along the way. I also packed an overabundance of snack items and water. Also, I wrote down every exit we passed that had a Burger King since their fries are safe for him (for the return trip). I still went in to make sure that it really was safe, but he did get some fries on the way home along with the lunch we packed.
We all ate breakfast and lunch "in", but hubby and Older Boy would go out and pick up what they wanted for dinner while I made dinner for the Little Man. It worked out well. I made the safe pizza the night they picked up pizza, Tinkyada pasta and tomato sauce the night we ate Italian, and we had lots of safe french fries, hot dogs, tater tots, lunch meat, etc. for other nights plus left overs. For a treat he had his soy ice cream with safe sprinkles that I picked up at OC Organics and I had brought safe chocolate chip cookies that I made the night before we left. I never want him to feel left out or cheated. I don't think that he did.


Michelle said...

wow your van was packed! Ours was almost like that when we made the cross country trip - mostly with food because I don't like to stop and spend money on restaurants for every meal :) I didn't realize all the preparations and forethought you would need for this trip - sorry to hear the COC at OC wasn't helpful, nor the hotel restaurant in getting back with you. It must be frustrating.

Allergic Girl said...

what an amazing mommy you are!
im sure you made the trip seamless for him, and honestly less worry for you b/c you had everything you needed! bravo!

ChupieandJ'smama said...

I'm not sure I'd go with amazing, but thank you :) I'm glad we only do these trips once a year. It is too stressful trying to remember everything, and I still the garlic powder and oregano for the pasta, but he didn't seem to miss it ;)

PEA said...

I knew you were going to pack a lot of safe food for him but I never thought of the toaster and such...makes sense that the one in the hotel room would be contaminated with white bread! That child will never feel left out because his mommy makes sure he gets everything he needs:-) You truly are a wonderful mom!! xox

ruth said...

I know how tedious it is to prepare for a trip with a food allergic child. But gee, I give ten full points for preparedness! Good job, Janeen!

mike said...

That is certainly a packed van. I agree with Allergic Girl. You are amazing.


Sue said...

I just chuckled when I saw your car pics - I know that so well. :) Packing Kayla's food gives me such anxiety. Always worried I'll forget something. And when we went to NC, I tried calling stores and got "...duh, I don't know...". Nice. I couldn't find an organic store or even one that had organic food. We've been known to cook bread in the oven to get toast. :) Sounds like you did really good and I'm sure he never noticed any difference.

I see others take their kids out to eat and I just wonder - what is that like? What's it like to go to a party or a park and be able to buy them whatever they want to eat?

You're a great Mom Janeen! Oh and I meet with the preschool Friday to go over details. I'm so afraid I'll miss something!!!

Sue said...

I had to thank you for your comment. You made me feel MUCH better for not thinking of the dairy when Alysa got sick.


Org Junkie said...

Oh boy can I relate to the work involved. You did a great job...all that work is worth it isn't it when you see that smile on their face.

Way to go!

Barb said...

My word, look at that car! But I'd do exactly the same thing, Janeen. And I'm sure he enjoyed your vacation just as much as all the rest of you did. He's got a great mom!

Happy Momma said...

Your children are blessed to call you mom! One day he will appreciate all the hard work you have put in.