New Year, New Goals! I am a goal setter, list-maker, it’s rewarding to check things off the list type of person. I can’t help myself.
Is that you too?
Or is that not your thing?
Either way, let’s be friends.
I love making goals on New Year’s Eve, not as a legalistic, this has to get done by this time, in this way, stressful type of thing. I make goals to consider what is important and how I cultivate those essential things in my life.
What’s new for me is applying that to living life with food allergies. I have never made food allergy goals before. That is partly because the last few years as a new food allergy mom have been relatively overwhelming. Just figuring out everything that I needed to learn was enough, much less goal-setting.
But this year feels different. I’m heading into my 5th year of raising littles with food allergies, and the older they get, the more I want to be intentional in equipping them to navigate life with food allergies more independently.
So I thought about what goals would keep us moving in that direction in 2023.
How do I keep equipping my kids with the tools they will need?
So here they are, my 5 food allergy goals for 2023.
1. Cook with my Kids
I’m actually really excited about this one. One of the life skills that I want my kids to have when they are adults is the ability to cook for themselves.
Although I would never wish food allergies on anyone, one silver lining has been that we eat a lot less processed food in our house and cook a lot more of our own, fresh food.
Since my kids were itty bitty, they have done the occasional baking muffins, making cookies, etc., with me, but my goal this year is to involve them more in the regular food prep.
I was inspired by this awesome kids cooking set that I got for my kids as a Christmas present. It has kid safe knives, a cutting board, measuring cups, and the works. My kids are SO excited.
And so am I.
I’m excited to see their knowledge of food grow alongside their cooking skills. I love how they can contribute to a real household task like making food.
It won’t always be easy. It will be messy and it will definitely take longer, but the benefit to my kids is worth the effort and I cannot wait to to get started.
If you’re curious, this is the cooking set I purchased. Not an affiliate link; this is just what we’re using.
My son helped make chicken and dumpling soup with me for the first time last week and he was so proud to have his own kitchen tools to use right alongside mine. It was magic.
For those of you whose kiddos are still a little too young for this, here are some other ideas for connecting them with food and cooking.
- Grocery shop together (point out different foods, safe foods and allergens)
- Baking (mixing cookie batter, etc)
- Help unpack groceries
- Be a part of the meal planning (kids pick 1 meal on the chart, etc)
2. New Food Introductions
I am always on the hunt for new safe brands for my family to enjoy. When we find a new favorite, it is such a win.
There are also a variety of new foods and recipes I want my kids to try this year. With food allergies, food introductions as babies became very stressful. Both of my babies reacted to foods as infants, and each reaction was confirmed as a food allergy by their allergists.
It changes the experience. You go from being so excited for them to try food to being terrified you will discover a new allergy. For you moms reading this that are there right now, I’ve been there. It’s tough.
This process can be very stressful because you feel pressure to introduce new foods and guilty if you “aren’t doing enough” while simultaneously you are terrified of a new food allergy and reaction.
It’s ok that you feel this way. It makes total sense that you feel this way. And there is no correct pace to introduce the foods. There were seasons where we tried a bunch of new foods and seasons where we took it slower.
For 2023, I have a list of foods I want to get into our family’s regular diet this year because it’s now the right time for our family to introduce those foods.
Maybe a list of new food goals would be helpful for your family this year too.
We truly understand the challenges of this and if you want to read more, check out our post, New Foods after a Food Allergy Diagnosis.
3. New Epi BackPack Rule
Each year I look for new ways to equip my son to take on more independence in managing his food allergies. This year’s goal will be to have him practice remembering to bring his EpiPen everywhere he goes.
We are going to get him his own backpack to place his EpiPens and carrying case in and help him begin to build the habit of always checking if he has it.
Due to his young age, ultimately his dad and I will still be responsible for ensuring the epi is with us everywhere we go. But this is a great age for our son to feel empowered to learn this skill.
For school classes, he will bring his backpack with him and we will double check that he has it when he leaves class. At his martial arts class, his instructors will let him bring his backpack into class with him so he can practice this skill there too.
Every time we get in the car, we will ask him if he has his backpack. If the answer is no, it will be his job to get back out of the car and go get it.
I am excited to see how he grows this year with this skill. I know he is ready.
For those of you with kiddos at different stages, some other goal ideas could be:
- Naming allergens
- Identifying allergens at the grocery store
- Asking, “is this food safe for me”
- Learning the 5 family food rules
- Self carrying
- Learning how to self-administer
- Ordering at a restaurant
- Label Reading
- Grocery Shopping
- Overnight away from home
- Packing for trip independently
We had such a blast traveling with my kids this year. Between figuring out life with food allergies, adjusting finances to grow our family, and living through a global pandemic, we haven’t done a ton of vacations and traveling since becoming parents.
Taking our kids to Disney in 2022 was a huge win for our family.
We’re learning how to manage food allergies while away from home and more importantly, it’s showing our kids that their food allergies will not hold them back from living their best lives.
Travel is possible with food allergies. It takes some planning, some time, and a dose of doing things differently than maybe you did prior to food allergies, but it’s possible, and so so worth it.
This doesn’t need to be a huge vacation. This could be an overnight somewhere close to home. A weekend retreat. Even a day trip.
Travel was so useful in building advocacy, adaptability, and to trust our instincts.
For more on what we learned about traveling with food allergies, check out our post, Disney World with Food Allergies.
5. Find Local Chef/Restaurant
One of the biggest blessings on our vacation last year was having chefs that really understood allergies, took them seriously, and cooked amazing food for our family.
My kids absolutely loved eating out at the restaurants on vacation and they still ask me to cook their spaghetti the way Chef Lauren did at Disney World.
Although we have a couple fast casual places here at home that we go out to eat at, I want to create the restaurant experience we had on vacation here in town if at all possible.
My goal is to check out a few of the smaller, local restaurants and speak with the staff. I want to see if I can find those gems who would go the extra mile for my kids, who understand cross-contact, and who could confidently cook safe food for my family.
I believe they exist, I just want to put in the effort to find them.
What about you?
I hope these goals are encouraging for you in your family’s food allergy journey. Are you setting any goals this year? We would love to hear from you!
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