To Keep An Allergen Free House or Not To
Deciding to keep an allergen-free household is a really tricky choice to make. It may seem black and white, however, like most things food allergies, it is more grey than anything.
We recently spoke to Meg from Allergy Awesomeness about her decision to have allergens in the house, which was not an easy choice by any means. Meg has two sons each with their own set of food allergies, meaning her house would have some very strict rules on what is allowed in. Additionally, she wants her children to be able to eat the most diverse diet possible, as this is key in development.
How did she decide to keep allergens in the house?
A big consideration when deciding to stay allergen free or not is who will be affected by the decision. Meg explains how lucky she is that her older son is extremely responsible and understands the severity of his allergies, so no matter what he asks about food. His responsibility even at a young age is one factor that made her and her husband feel confident they could have his allergens present.
Keeping allergens in the house meant that they have a clear protocols such as allergens only eaten in a specific area, allergen containing foods are stored in a special spot, and clear rules on how to clean up after an allergen is consumed.
Additionally, Meg makes sure that no one feels left out. She makes sure that the child who cannot eat something due to allergies has an equivalent food item. For example, keeping cow's milk yoghurt and coconut yoghurt, so everyone has a safe option and does not feel left out.
What to consider when deciding to have an allergen-free home or not:
The severity of the allergen
Is it contact reactive?
How easy it is to clean up the allergen?
The key players: allergic person and family members
The age of the key players?
How responsible are they?
Will they clean up after?
The rules you will need to ensure a safe environment
What rules do you need to have in place to ensure a safe environment if you have allergens in the house?
Where will the allergens be stored?
How do ensure no one feels left out when allergens are in the house?
Weighing the Pros & Cons
How much damage would it cause having the allergen(s) in the house versus not having them?
Other perspectives on keeping allergens in the house
Nina from Eat Allergen Safe likes to mention how she grew up with her allergens present in the home. Having peanuts and tree nuts in the house taught her how to navigate around them and prepared her for life later on such as living with roommates. Nina likes to compare it to sleeping beauty and the spinning wheel, when you have never managed life around an allergen they can become even more problematic.
Kortney also grew up in a house with allergens and now keeps a semi-allergen-free household. She chooses to keep her top allergens out of the house because she "want(s) to eat the crumbs off the counter without worrying they may contain something I am allergic to". When allergens do enter the home they make sure everything gets wiped down with disinfectant.
Do you keep allergens in your house?
Want to hear more?
Listen to Meg talk about how she decided to keep allergens in the house in Episode 6 at minute 24.