My kids have multiple food allergies. We are no strangers to Food Allergy Testing. We have practiced AVOIDANCE, gone through food CHALLENGES, outgrown some, and now we’re knee deep in OIT (oral immunotherapy treatment) for our BIGGIE—peanut allergy. As stressed as the food allergy testing (OIT) makes me, I feel like it’s the only way to protect my child.
I know my kid, and I see his desire to want to test every SINGLE limit I give him. His food allergy restrictions are no different.
He likes to test those boundaries, too.
OIT isn’t for everyone, but it makes me feel like I may be able to protect my kid when he decides to test the limits of his allergy.
Kids Don’t “Get” Death
** I have a FULL understanding that every kid, every allergy, and every family is different. None should be treated as the same, ever. So, given my kid, his allergy, and our family, these are my thoughts on OIT vs Aviodence.
One of the hardest things about being a food allergy mom (other than being solely responsible for ensuring his “poison” doesn’t accidentally get into his body) is teaching your kid the dangers of his food allergy.
How do you tell a 3 year old that a granola bar or cookie could kill him? Well, you don’t. But, you have to try to teach them to “avoid” for their own protection. This is uber tricky because kids feel invincible. They don’t understand the gravity of “this food could make you stop breathing.”
FORTUNATELY, my kid’s reactions have only been GI and skin issues, so even though he knows “that food can make me really sick,” he still doesn’t GET IT. That, combined with his natural desire to test, test and retest his limits—avoidance seemed like a sketchy choice for us as he ages.
Avoidance = Abstinence
Avoidance seems to be a lot easier to contain when the kids are little, spend all their time with you, and you’re clearing their food choices. But, when they get into puberty…they’re flying solo. AND THAT’S what makes me nervous.
I know how independent and curious my kid is. So, I can ONLY imagine how curious he’ll be at those infamous middle school parties. (God help us all). And, I want him to be able to be curious and make mistakes—without it costing him his life (or having something insanely traumatic occur).
Because of that, I feel like avoidance is like the abstinence teaching of the food allergy world.
Avoidance teachings over simplify life and the individual allergy. Some kids that don’t have airborne reactions to allergens, contact reactions, etc. may spend their whole life not understanding what the big deal is. While, other kids may know it all too well.
My little man has already taken “risks” and knows nothing terrible happened as a result. For example, he’s tried things that have cross contamination issues from well meaning grown-ups, gone through food challenges, and even been just sneaky to see what all the fuss was about.
So, there’s no way he’s not going to test those boundaries further.
For kids like mine, who have allergies like his, avoidance is like asking him to sign a virginity plan that includes clauses for no hand-holding, kissing, or making out. He’s already “held hands,” got the “peck on the cheek,” and now he’s super curious about all the other good stuff down the road.
Abstinence is just NOT going to happen. That’s reality.
Knowing that, I had to put my game face on for THE TALK.
OIT = SEX ED
I feel like the OIT food allergy testing / treatment is basically getting him ready to test those boundaries and be able to walk away unscathed. That’s the goal, right? Helping them figure out their own limits without sacrificing EVERYTHING in the process.
That’s where OIT comes in.
OIT is like the Sex-Ed of the food allergy world. It takes away (*most*) of the mystery, gives you freedom to be curious, but also keeps you aware of the dangers.
It preps you for real life away from the safety zones of your parents’ house. And, that’s all a mom can ask for, right?
At the time this post is published, we are about 1/3 of the way through the protocol. We’ve had some setbacks, and we’ve had some good progress. All in all, it has been an empowering time.
Some scary setbacks let my son (and me) understand that this is STILL dangerous. It has to be taken slow and steady. But, it is really interesting to see how OIT is teaching him patience, practice, and respect for his body.
These are all things we want our kids to absorb at some point in life. OIT kids just happen to get it early.
OIT VS AVOIDANCE
Ultimately, it comes down to your kid, his allergy, and your family. This is NOT an easy choice, and it’s riddled with stressors. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
But, we don’t get to pick what our kids have to manage or experience. So, we have to just fight the good fight the best way we know how. There’s no right way.
However, I personally believe that freedom to do some boundary testing is a HUGE perk that OIT gives kids. It lets them feel a little less restricted—and a little of THAT can go a LONG WAY.
With OIT comes the luxury of exploring the forbidden without suffering dire consequences. It preps kids to understand the seriousness of their body’s limits, but it also shows them the miraculous ways in which our bodies work. OIT is a lesson in adaptability and in patience—good things come to those who wait.
It is so hard to put aside the stressful act of giving your child his “poison” and choosing OIT. It’s a total mind FU*&K. I’ll grant you that. But, the benefits are so much bigger than being able to eat a cookie without the fear of dying.
OIT a real lesson in managing your limits, being aware of your body, and making good choices. Totally Sex-Ed of the food allergy world, right?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on OIT and what made you choose (or opt out) of OIT!