I admit it, I feel bad, guilty even when a mum has gone to extra efforts to include my son when they make birthday treats for the whole class or when they offer to make him something special at a party. I feel bad because nine times out of ten I still have to say, “no, he cannot have that”. I say sorry (a lot) I feel totally neurotic and over bearing but honestly more than I feel bad, I feel terrified that my worst fears will be confirmed; that these well-meaning, kind people really do not understand the precautions needed. They do not understand that I cannot give him the crackers wrapped up so beautifully especially for him because I did not see the original packaging to know if they are ok for him to eat, they just don’t get it. Recently a well-meaning mother made plain cupcakes for the class and said to the teacher “it’s ok they don’t have chocolate in, just butter”. Now I do not want to sound mean but I do question whether she either did not realise my son had a milk allergy (amongst the others) or (more worryingly) if she was unaware that butter comes from milk comes from a cow….. ahem.

I have had a person offer my son pasta from a bowl of “pasta and cheese” insisting that “that bit doesn’t have any cheese on it”. I have kindly said thankyou but no thankyou to a very lovely friend who offered to make special cakes for a party for Levi and then also tell me that the birthday cake is her daughters favourite chocolate hazelnut cake, my thoughts on this is that if the yummy sounding hazelnut cake is being made in the same kitchen by the same cook it kind of falls into the “may contain” category quite heavily.

I know people will think I am over the top and over protective about things but it is how it is. People often don’t believe in illnesses that are not constantly visible to the eye, I have Crohn’s I know the score. But when you witness your child swell, wheeze, vomit and become covered in nasty hives or worse instantly after coming in to contact with an allergen almost before you eyes it convinces you this type of precaution is needed.

On the other side of this I feel bad that my son can sometimes not be included. I am considering writing a list of brand treats my son can have and giving to parents asking them kindly to either use one of those or let me know when a birthday is coming so I can try to replicate as closely as possible the treats they are making. My son notices now when he is not getting what everyone else is. It is not nice to feel like “mean old mummy” and see his little face fall when I have to say “no you can’t eat that”. Life as an allergy mum is hard I tell you. It doesn’t get easier either you have to be constantly on alert wherever you go if food is present.

 One way I try to get the message across to people is by taking photos of reactions when they occur. For one thing it is useful to show the allergists at appointments as it helps them understand in some way the severity of his reactions to various things. It also gives a little “shock factor” to carry the message home a little better. I have a whole album on my Facebook page of these pictures so feel free to look and send me your pictures if you would like to contribute. It can also help people to understand what reactions can look like if perhaps they suspect they or their child is having them.

On the subject of Levi; he had an allergy appointment recently with skin prick tests and IgE blood tests. He has not outgrown any of his existing allergies sadly, we had hoped soya was gone as the skin prick was negative but he is still reacting in his blood so he must still avoid for now. He can also add beans and peas to his allergy list.

Here is a pic of the skin prick test;


LEFT top to bottom;
dust mites
white fish (cod)

RIGHT top to bottom;
egg white
cows milk

And that is just a teeny tiny drop on his skin people.
Positives….. we can now try fish! 😉 Always a silver lining x

28 thoughts on “It’s not personal but my son can’t eat your cakes.

  1. I understand. Through this blog you’re helping people learn more about what those of us who have “food issues” are going through — and hopefully they will understand too. I’ve had to banish many foods from my diet but it’s blogs like this one that have helped me find joy in preparing new foods I can actually eat! (So important — especially on days when a trip to the grocery store is enough to want me bang my head against the wall!)

    Keep up the good work 🙂

    • I hope so 🙂 I think it is important to know that having allergies should still mean you can make yummy food. Thankyou for your kind words x

  2. I think this is a really positive and brave post about living with food sensitivities. You’ve had to create boundaries and stick to them and that involves educating other people about the seriousness of your son’s condition. I for one am really affected by the image of his allergy test and I think it’s so important that people are aware, at the very least so they can begin to understand that a bit of pasta with the cheese scraped off will never suffice.
    Well said, Bev.

    • Thankyou Pippa, I think (as you may well know) it can always be so difficult to make people understand that yes, food can be dangerous to some people and that just because you can’t see a problem (illness) doesn’t mean it is not there and very real x

  3. I think this post should be required reading for all parents of non-allergic kids. My kids don’t have any food allergies, so I’ve not btdt, but I do ‘get it’ and I see so many parents that don’t! It’s maddening for me, I can’t imagine how maddening it is for you and other allergy parents!

    When I know that we’re going to have a food allergic kid at a party/get together, I always ask the parents ahead of time for *exact brands* of treats that their kid can have and I make those availabe (in their original packaging) at the party. That seems like common sense, but apparently it’s not!

    • You are an allergy parents dream! The ones who don’t get it aren’t the worse ones, it’s the parents that think “why should I stop giving my child peanut butter/nutella, it doesn’t effect my child so I don’t care” been there with that one, maddening. Most people once they realise are brilliant but it all goes back to the problem with people not recognising allergies as a real illness.

  4. Nicely written. It’s hard to balance safety vs being over-anxious vs not hovering over our kids all the time.

    After going through this a few times, I’m in the habit of discussing things with the host parents a few days before the party, and for a long time would provide all the foods that my kids would eat. I’d try to make them as similar as possible to what the other kids were eating.

    These days they’ve outgrown a number of allergies (!!!) and many of the places they’re invited to understand the issues pretty well and can be trusted to provide safe food. It’s taken several years to get to that state, though.

  5. WOW!! I thought I felt bad for parents and kids alike, until I READ THIS.. Now, I can’t even begin to try to imagine what one must go through.. Stick to your guns, I’m sure you child will thank you when he/she is old enough to realize..

  6. Thankyou for all your comments! I hope it in some way helps people to understand the impact allergies have on the lives of those affected x

  7. Well written, Bev! A great post! Looking forward to more of your writing as a fellow mom who understands 🙂

  8. well said hun. No we do not let Bob eat anything “home made” at a party unless that is our home. My son took his own food to parties over 20 years ago and grandson now doing the same.
    Like you we dont mind packet food if the food is still in the packet with no chance of cross contamination.
    Unfortunately as most of the time at a party kids wander and play while eating touching door knobs, doors, walls, chairs, other kids handles etc etc etc which for children like ours with contact allergy is just a nightmare.
    But far short of isolating your child and not letting them attend these events then you just live on your nerves for half a day.
    sorry to hear he is developing more allergies to add to his list.

  9. My nephew has a peanut allergy and I am pediatric nurse practitioner and my daughter is gluten free -while she doesn’t have celiacs she gets severe stomach pain AND dramatic eczema on her scalp when she eats wheat. With all of this I understand what allergies can do. That said my neighbor’s little one who is my son’s age has peanut and egg allergies. I have made special food for him when I host parties and have packed treats in the ubiquitous “bag of crap” as i call the treat bags given at parties. Even with my knowledge base, I still offer to his mom the chance to see the recipe or discuss exactly what is in it and I save labels off of any purchased treats to let her read when she arrives at the party. For school last year she and her mom walked through the large grocery store chain and read every label in order to compile a list of “safe Foods” that was distributed to the entire class. I have talked to her about the experience and she did only positive things to say about the reaction of the other parents. The class was large with 24 kids and a public school.

    Good Luck.

  10. I can so relate to this post! My son is 4 and is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and eggs. People say things like “well, my child is allergic to eggs, but can eat them COOKED in something”. uhhh, what?! How do you respond to that? I just have to say, well, my son will vomit profusely. It’s true, that a lot of people just don’t get it, and if I had not seen the reactions my son has had, I probably wouldn’t take it as seriously either…but it’s a scary sight and something I want to avoid at all costs. So, I feel very overbearing at times, but then I just remember the consequences of not being diligent. (Which happened recently at a new church.) Of course, I do get aggravated at times when people say “I don’t know if he can have this or not.” and I say “did you look at the ingredients” and they say “No”. ^%&^$%*!

    • Thankyou for your comment. It is so lovely to hear from people who understand so completely! Recently my sons teacher said that her and the other teachers were discussing the fact I do so much for my son because of the allergies, am even present at school etc and she said “we think you’re the best mother in the world!” which shows that some people do realise the sacrifices we make. We are fantastic mum’s if I may say so! 🙂

  11. Thank you for this post! I often talk to others ahead of time and let them know that we can’t eat everything on the menu. I ask if they prefer I bring a single serving for my children, both of whom have allergies, or for enough to share. Most of the time this works. I am really struggling with trusting others to prepare food for my children. Grandparents and friends are starting to try. It is really hard when someone who understands goes out of their way and your kid doesn’t eat it.

    • I am totally with you, if people don’t deal with allergies they usually really don’t understand how careful you need to be. My mum is really great and even does a pre-visit super clean and doesn’t eat any nuts a few days before or while we are there. People who are close to you normally get better with time don’t they x

  12. I’ve just read this, after recently discovering your facebook page, I can sympathise completely. Home baked goods at parties are a real problem for us, my son is allergic to dairy, uncooked egg, sesame and nuts (although possibly only peanuts). He’s nearly 5 and he just seems to accept that when parents bring in cakes or sweets as a treat on Birthdays, that he normally can’t have them. I always have some Kinnerton chocolate lollies at home, and he gets one later, and normally accepts the treat to take home for Daddy. I always take homemade crispy cakes (based on a Topsy & Tim recipe book from when I was little) to hiw friends Birthday parties, and then he doesn’t feel like he’s missed out on the cake. I take him food I’ve prepared at home, and always ensure that the parent knows I will bring some, and also stay for the duration of the party. I’m sure that the other parents who don’t know about his allergies just assume I’m neurotic and over protective, however, I once had to discard the entire contents of a prty bag because a homemade flapjack containing sesame seeds had been put in there (even after telling the Mum he was highly allergic to them).

    • Hi GingerNewton

      People really don’t get it you’re right. With some people they seem to have to see a reaction to believe which is why I take photos of reactions hoping the “shock factor” will drive the message home. If you ever have questions just ask x

  13. My two year old daughter has been diagnosed with nut, dairy and banana allergy. I am so glad that I came across your blog Bev,the recipes look amazingly achievable, and I can’t wait to get back to allergy free baking now. Will be baking carrot cake tomorrow. Thanks ever so much for sharing your knowledge with us, putting in that time and effort . All the Best to Levi too. We live in hope….
    From New Zealand

    • Hello to you over in NZ, I have family over there (in Upper Hut). When I make recipes I try to make them easy peasy as poss because when people start baking allergy free it isn’t normally because they love to bake but out of necessity so their kids will be included and have yummy treats. If you have ANY questions I am on my Facebook page almost every day! X

  14. Pingback: It’s Not Personal But My Son Can’t Eat Your Cakes

  15. Heavens what a nightmare for you! My husband is gluten intolerant and its tough trying to make people understand that “a little bit won’t hurt” is the wrong answer! Some people just don’t get it!

    • Hi there. I don’t know if I replied to your comment before but I have noticed that I am not being notified of some messages! You’re right, it is totally the wrong answer.i don’t get why people would think we would say it to be awkward!

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