It's an Eggy-Aware Lifestyle

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Editor’s note: I’d advise you (and anyone) to check with your allergist before introducing baked egg to a child with an egg allergy. While some kids are tolerant, some (like my own) are not.

I never thought I’d have a child with a food allergy. My husband and I don’t have any food allergies, and once both kids tried peanut butter without any issues, I assumed they were in the clear, too. But ever since the first time my daughter, Charlotte, gobbled down a plate of scrambled eggs, they’ve been my sworn enemy. Huge red welts swelled up around her mouth, and it was certainly a Mother’s Day brunch I won’t soon forget.

We met with an allergist who confirmed the allergy and prescribed an EpiPen, which is now a permanent part of my bag. But here’s the kicker: he said she could “possibly” eat egg if it’s been baked into a “wheat matrix.” What?

Here’s a quick primer. Egg in meatloaf? You’ll get a reaction, because there’s no wheat. Pancakes do have wheat in them, but they’re not baked, so you’ll get a reaction. But then why is she also reacting to eggs baked into cookies? Ah, because they haven’t been baked every long. *facepalm*

Eggy-Aware Lifestyle[photo credit]

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is egg in freaking everything, so I’ve modified our go-to recipes. I use flax eggs and applesauce and milk as replacements. I bake egg-free muffins and egg-free cookies. It’s an eggy-aware lifestyle for us.

Our three-year-old son, Dexter, is quick to announce that his sissy is “a-wer-gick” to eggs whenever he sees one. We buy eggs sparingly now, because it’s just easier to be egg-free as a household — and not make Charlotte feel left out.

The trouble isn’t in our home — it’s everywhere else. When a child has a severe peanut allergy, people take it very seriously. But what about the kids like my daughter, who *are* allergic, and *do* carry EpiPens, but have yet to experience a scary ambulance trip?Well, people often forget. And they sometimes think it’s (A) just an intolerance, (B) probably not a big deal, or (C) they’ll give an EpiPen to any kid these days.

The thing about a “mild” allergy is that it could become more severe with more exposure. But there are many people who think of peanuts and shellfish as the “main” allergies, and kind of brush egg allergies off as a gluten-free lactose-free sort of “trend.”

There’s a chance that Charlotte will outgrow her egg allergy in a few years, and that would be wonderful. But in the meantime, we’re stocking up on applesauce, freezing batches of special cookies, and letting people know that even minor food allergies are worth investigating.

Heather Laura Clarke, a contributing writer at Scratch or Sniff, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her high-school sweetheart husband, seven-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter. She writes for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S., and blogs about her family life at Heather's Handmade Life. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

19 Comments to It's an Eggy-Aware Lifestyle

  1. Jenn

    Thanks for sharing your experience Heather. We are *thankfully* (touch wood) an allergy-free home, but have many friends with allergies. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of the world through your eyes.

    • Thanks for reading, Jenn! We have quite a few friends with allergies, too, and it’s certainly made me more careful when preparing food for play-dates. I keep a little list in my phone of their different allergies, so I can check it before someone comes over.

  2. I feel ya, sister! My son is dairy/soy allergic but does not have anaphylactic reactions to allergens. He gets horrible eczema and blistering eczema in multiple areas of his skin and has increased respiratory symptoms (snotty nose, congestion, cough) during a “flare”. Even though most people can’t tell he’s reacting to something, it’s miserable for him to have rashes and blisters on his skin :( We’ve had trouble with people taking us seriously because he (so far!) hasn’t needed emergency treatment. It’s so much harder than I expected to get people to really understand food allergies, especially when our kiddos react in less “traditional” ways to allergens. Thanks for sharing! Keep doing what you’re doing- it’s a hard road! :)

    • Thanks, Laura. It can be hard when other adults don’t take allergies seriously — especially the older generation, unfortunately.

  3. Hi Heather

    We’re an atopic family too – my hubby has hayfever and his brother has asthma and I just never connected those things with my babies having an inherited tendency towards having an atopic reaction like hayfever, asthma, eczema or even allergies.

    We’ve got at least 3 epipens on the go for my son who had most of the BIG 8 allergies. I say had because at 9 years old he’s just grown out of a few of them. It’s still very tricky because we now need to manage his tolerance by feeding him either daily or weekly specific amounts of specifically treated (eg baked) foods.

    Honestly, I’m kinda missing the avoidance diet because there’s a lot of pressure that goes along with introducing the food back into his life. What if we give 1 peanut too few, what if I put 10mls too much milk in the biscuits, what if we miss a day? Argh!

    In any case, keep on keeping on fellow mama!

    • Wow, managing the tolerance would be stressful for sure! That’s interesting. Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

  4. Jessi

    While we haven’t witnessed any apparent food reactions in our kids, we are trying to be more mindful of avoiding corn syrup and artificial dyes. First off, most convenience foods have both (DANGIT). Second, good luck telling grandparents that they can’t give the kids anything they ask for simply because it’s “our preference” (as if that weren’t enough). In the mean time, we are trying harder at home to offset what the kids eat “out in the world”.

    • I hear you on the artificial dyes, Jessi! For a while I was VERY suspicious of the effect on my son, because he would be a totally different kid (i.e. up for two hours, screaming in the middle of the night) after getting bombarded with treats at his grandparents’ place. I’ve gotten to a place where I realize I can’t control the grandparents’ desire to spoil the kids with treats — it’s just “their way” — so I grit my teeth, and remember that they don’t eat like that every day.

  5. JenGa

    My niece (by marriage) is allergic to eggs. I remember the first time we watched her, she was a tiny 3 year old asking if there were eggs in anything we fed her. As she’s gotten older we’ve bonded over egg free cooking and baking. Any time we go anywhere I make sure we have everything we need for her. I can only imagine what it’s like to deal with food allergies day after day. Eggs are in so many things! I hope your Charlotte does become tolerant someday.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Letting you know that Heather responded below, copying and pasting here:

      Your niece is lucky to have such a cautious, thoughtful aunt, JenGa! Most people tend to steer clear of egg-free baking projects for kids with allergies because it can be more difficult to find good recipes. That’s very sweet that you take the time to do that for her. Thanks for commenting!

  6. Your niece is lucky to have such a cautious, thoughtful aunt, JenGa! Most people tend to steer clear of egg-free baking projects for kids with allergies because it can be more difficult to find good recipes. That’s very sweet that you take the time to do that for her. Thanks for commenting!

  7. Andrea

    My son had an egg allergy like this when he was little. But at 2 he grew out of it. Not sure how or when, we just realised it when we discovered that something we had been told was egg free was in fact, not. Duh. And then a week later someone gave him an entire boiled egg when we were at their house. Gah.

    I think the trickiest part was knowing there was a good chance he’d grow out of it, but having no idea on how to broach the ‘discovering if he had in fact grown out of it’. So I guess I’m glad we found out by accident!

    • Ooh, that’s scary, Andrea! But very glad your son grew out of his allergy!

      My daughter just turned two last week, and she’s scheduled to be retested in a couple of weeks. Then we’ll know for sure, at least.

  8. Leigh

    My 3 year old son has an egg allergy as well. He has lots of food allergies but his eczema was so bad we didn’t realize he was reacting to what he was eating. It wasn’t until his 15 month check up that he was given the flu shot and reacted immediately. He’s still allergic to eggs (and peanuts, diary, wheat, soy, corn, sesame, chocolate and several fruits). His egg allergy is more than double the IgE of his peanut allergy so we keep epi pens everywhere! I totally understand where you’re coming from! Hugs from Nashville.

    • Egg allergies are rough, Leigh, because — as you know — eggs are in freaking everything these days! It’s also difficult to get an egg-free flu vaccine, it seems. Thanks for commenting!

  9. Megan

    Thanks for this! I really should learn more about egg allergies and the whole “wheat matrix”. I’ve noticed that as a teen and adult I’m intolerant (upset stomach) to scrambled eggs, but can eat eggs in baked goods and feel fine. This helps explain it! With this and similar reaction to bananas and avocados (perhaps a latex sensitivity) I feel like I’m missing out on all the healthy recipes these days :) flax and applesauce in baking will be my new friends.

    • You’re so welcome, Megan! My sister gets an upset stomach from whole eggs, too, but she’s able to eat them in a wheat matrix. For years, she thought she was getting a stomachache from the grease in her hash browns, and it was eggs all along!

      Applesauce is an awesome substitute. I always have a jar of it in the fridge!

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