Living With Cows Milk Allergy

Whether your child has just been diagnosed with CMA, or they have been working to control the allergy symptoms for a while, managing cows milk allergy can be a challenge.

It is completely normal to feel frustrated, angry, guilty or sad. However, there are plenty of sources of support where parents and children can seek further help and advice if allergy control is difficult to maintain.

Dr Netali Levi is a Clinical Psychologist who works with children with cow’s milk allergy (CMA) and their families. Here are some of her practical tips to help you manage your child’s allergy.

CMA and My Child

• Educate them. A healthy understanding of their own individual dietary needs will encourage adherence as well as acceptance and reinforce their developing sense of independence which is an important stage of growing up.
• Always listen. It is important that your child feels supported and knows that they are able to ask questions in any situation, no matter what their age. An understanding of why a particular course of action is recommended will help to ensure your child follows the advice and that their nutritional needs are well understood and managed.
• Be positive. Focus on what your child CAN have, making mealtimes, as well as school or nursery snacks and birthday parties, fun.

CMA and Others

• Keep it simple. Keep information to the point, so you don’t ‘scare’ others into what may happen, but ensure they understand the importance of your child’s allergy or other special nutritional needs.
• Keep things in perspective. Food allergies are becoming more common, so your child will probably not be the only one facing a restricted / modified diet. Other parents in your school or within your wider family unit may be in a similar situation.
• Be prepared. Consider whether your child’s friends or parents would benefit from reading information about your child’s specific nutritional needs.

My Family and CMA

• Talk openly. Explain to any other children, the difference between their siblings’ nutritional needs and their own. It’s important that there is understanding and acceptance of their specific dietary needs early on.
• Cook together. Encourage cooking and trying out new ‘family friendly’ recipes together at meal times. This will help to build feelings of inclusion (as well as an understanding of which ingredients are being avoided), and help all siblings feel that they have an important role within the family.
• Be inclusive and eat together. Encourage your children and family to eat together (even if sometimes the meal ingredients may inevitably vary slightly). Instil the idea among all your children that having a specific nutritional requirement need not be isolating. This will also help to avoid siblings feeling resentful of the attention that your allergic child gets, or of any restrictions that may be placed upon the family as a whole.
• Get the family involved. Involve siblings in the daily routine and explain why it is necessary for them to help out with their sister or brother’s allergy. This inclusive approach may help promote support among siblings and improve their understanding of why it is important to not have certain foods in the house.

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