Allergy Living

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What is it like to live and care for two young girls who have severe allergies? The good news is that it is all manageable. My husband and I have a very compassionate, understanding group of friends and family. In addition, we are part of an extremely supportive online community, which offers us many resources to help manage their health.

The bad news? Well, it is not always easy. You have to manage their health everyday. Our girls are 5 and 10 years old.  Our youngest child, Aleena has life threatening food allergies to all tree nuts and peanuts except almonds. She is contact allergic to sesame seeds and tahini. Our eldest daughter, Saira has cold-induced asthma, eczema and seasonal allergies. She is prone to getting sick very often. Both daughters have been in and out of the hospital on multiple occasions.

When your child is given a diagnosis for food allergies and asthma, you are sent home with reading materials. The doctor recommends a few online resources. That’s it! It’s as if they are told their clothes are on backwards. But allergy living is so much more complex than being handed a few reading materials and changing your clothes.

Aleena has had anaphylaxis twice. The first time we were unaware that she even had food allergies. The second time was through trace contact of sesame seeds. The experience of watching your child struggle for her life, changes you forever in a way that hurts beyond measure. A new level of anxiety sets in.

But like any new health condition that requires an adjustment, my husband and I realized that we needed to snap out of our funk and take control. We quickly realized that the only way we could keep both of our daughters safe was to know exactly what was in their food. So I started cooking everyday. And it gave me such peace to be in the kitchen because there was no more second-guessing ingredients in our food. We were the ones controlling their health by cooking with organic, whole foods. This was how My Berkeley Kitchen came to fruition; a place to share my recipes and love of all things food related, with an allergy-friendly focus.

Allergy life is still not perfect. With any ongoing health condition, it is a work in progress but we now know that living with allergies means you must always be prepared and not paranoid. Living by this motto helps us manage our anxieties on a daily basis.

I hope to use this section as a platform to help other allergy parents navigate allergy- related questions. I will continue to update posts with the hope of creating a dialogue so that none of us feel alone in our journey.

Much love to you all,

Shahla

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Hello from our family-from top left, Matt, Shahla(me), Aleena(4 1/2), and Saira(9). Drawing by Saira