Scary Parenting Lessons I Learned with Food Allergy Scare

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Yesterday, I learned three valuable parenting lessons from a very scary situation that put us in the ER last night.  Those lessons are:

1.  Listen to my inner voice

2.  Listen to my kid

3.  Slow down

My daughter is very allergic to cashew nuts.  We first learned this when she tried a few at 3 years old and ended up sporting swollen lips and wearing head to toe hives.

The next episode didn’t happen until 7 years later and I had hoped that she had outgrown this pesky allergy. After repeatedly telling friends who had her in their care about her cashew allergy and then sending them off with an emergency bag that contained an Epi Pen and Benedryl, she was exposed to cashews while in my care.  We tasted a cupcake at a local restaurant.  A cupcake that I assumed that she had enjoyed before at the same place.  I failed to ask what was in the cupcake and within minutes we were rushing to Urgent Care to receive treatment.  Sure enough, the cupcake contained pureed cashews in the frosting.  I thought that I had learned my lesson.

Almost a year to the day later, it happened again yesterday and again, under my care.  This time the situation was a little different.  I had ordered a pizza for myself at a local cafe that makes amazing and very healthy fare. My girl was not with me.  I did read the ingredients before ordering because I was curious about what would be on this healthy pizza. I thoroughly enjoyed half of the personal sized pizza, placed the rest in a to go container and rushed off to get my girl from school.

She entered the car quite hungry and admitted to me that she had skipped lunch because she hadn’t felt hungry at that time.  My motherly instinct was to feed this kid fast and when she smelled the yummy leftover pizza, I was thrilled that she wanted to try something healthy, so I offered her a few bites.  I will never ever forget her next question.  She asked me if the food was safe for her to eat.  Why I ignored that little inner voice that told me that I hadn’t asked to be sure, I will never know.  I told her it was pizza, so of course it didn’t have cashews in it and that I had read the ingredients at the eatery, but I had not asked to double check!!  Well, darn me darn me….she ate a few bites and within minutes, she fearfully told me that she didn’t feel right.

At first, I didn’t feel a sense of urgency as I thought maybe it was the spice or the onions that were making her lips feel weird.  She didn’t have hives and she didn’t look like she was in distress, but she told me that I had to listen to her because she was listening to her body and it wasn’t right.  She was also starting to cry and that broke my heart.  Thank goodness I then decided to listen to my kid and follow her instincts to get her to the ER.  I gave her Benedryl, pulled out our Epi Pen and off we went.

When an emergency room thinks that a food allergy is suspected, they don’t mess around and they take you right in.  The doctor confirmed that her lips and tongue were swelling and immediately pierced her leg with the Epi Pen and started an IV with saline, followed by more Benedryl and then steroids.  treatmentAs this was all happening, I reached the restaurant by phone and confirmed that cashews were indeed an ingredient in the pesto pizza sauce.  I tearfully told the doctor that I had once again exposed my own child to her enemy food and her response was first and foremost that my girl would be OK, that she was out of the woods and that I did the absolute correct thing by listening to her and bringing her right in.  She also told me to go easy on myself and just to be super diligent from now on about checking labels, asking questions and think twice about frosting and sauces.

We are to also check beauty product labels as a lot of products are now using different types of tree nut oil for skin products.

My girl is fine with peanuts, so it can be confusing, but cashews are a huge no no for her body.

I am SO thankful that she is OK and I move forward with my parenting lessons learned.

Recovering today.  Feeling better.

Recovering today. Feeling better.

Listen….to my inner voice….to her outer voice…and slow down. Part of the reason, this happened is that I was in a rush to grab food and go, get her fed on the run before I had to be at my son’s practice.  All lessons learned as I thank God for the gift of another day of getting to be her Mom.


  1. Thank you for this! I had a similar situation occur with my 18 month old in our care yesterday. We didn’t read the labels and there was cross contamination in something that touched him- he didn’t even ingest it.
    Trying so hard not to blame ourselves- it’s exhausting- but I know that the best thing we can do is use this as a learning opportunity- for ourselves and our friends and family. I know that I am bringing my epi trainer to all my friends and family members to be prepared for anything.

    It’s so hard to assume that everything could be contaminated- it’s not in my nature even though my kid has been diagnosed for 6 months. Now I will.

    You are right- we skipped the line at the hospital and I’m grateful for how serious the hospital takes an allergic reaction- especially in kids.

    I’m with you today! Keeping one eye on my kid all day long…..

    • says:

      Hi Sharon….bless your heart! Thank you for sharing your story, too. Being a parent is hard enough and then when you have a child with allergies, it is even harder. You are a terrific Mom and we are all in this parenting kids with allergies thing together. Thank you so much for your comment, too.

  2. Thank you for sharing…one of my worst fears…he’s 8 and is constantly asking is this safe…good reminder to slow down…and always double check… May I ask? Was she mad at you? I always wonder how he’d feel if/when this happens. Thanks 🙂

    • says:

      Hi Angela,

      You know, she was very understanding. I think she could see through my expressions and tears how awful I felt and how much it scared me. I also noticed that when she told the story to her friends, she never once said “My Mom gave me….” instead she just said that “I accidentally ate some sauce…” I was also quick to be accountable to admit my faults and how I learned from this situation. It is just plain scary to have a child with food allergies. We all have to hang in there, take it meal by meal and be extra careful.

      • Thank you 🙂 That’s awesome that she didn’t blame you 🙂 Yes it is scary, and I think our kids have to grow up a little quicker because of the seriousness and responsibilty of it all.

      • says:

        Boy, you got that right, Angela! She is definitely more mature because of this.