By Marianne Canter, AAAAI Member - January 2011

If you’re a kid with food allergies, you know how careful you have to be. It’s hard to tell your friends when they need step away until they wash their hands, and for some kids it’s not always fun to be the only one at a birthday party who doesn’t get to eat the same cake as everyone else.

Brianna Adkins knows how you feel. Her dad may be country music star Trace Adkins, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s a girl with a severe allergy to peanuts and other foods. In this article, Brianna talks about what it’s like living with food allergies, and her sisters Mackenzie and Trinity chime in with some tips about how everyone can help make life safer for kids with allergies.

Brianna, do your food allergies keep you from doing anything you really want to do?
Brianna said “Not anymore, although sometimes I want to eat what I can’t, and sometimes I don’t want to eat what I can.”

Four-year-old Trinity warned Brianna not to eat what she shouldn’t. “It makes you have food allergies, makes you red, makes you cry, and then makes you go to the hospital.”

What do you do to keep yourself safe?
“I tell people to keep back from me before they wash their hands when they eat stuff I can’t have.”

How do other people help you?
“I ask people to check foods to make sure I can eat them.”

Do your friends ask questions about your food allergies?
“Some of them, not all. Some already know I have food allergies.”

So, when you make new friends, do you tell them about your allergies?
“Yeah. I tell them all of the stuff I’m allergic to and what would happen to me if I ate that kind of stuff.”

Do they get it? Are they helpful?
“Sometimes they understand,” said Brianna. Do they move you away from people who are eating things you are allergic to? That’s what I do,” Trinity chimed in.

What advice do you have for other kids who have food allergies?
“If you see someone near you eating something you can’t, ask them nicely to stay away from you until they wash their hands.”

Trinity wanted the last word on this and said “Do you ask them nicely Brianna?” In the end, Brianna prevailed with a resounding “YES!”

Brianna’s older sister, Mackenzie, also talked about coping with food allergies. Here’s what Mackenzie had to say:

“I remember when we were playing in the cul-de-sac and I came in to eat a sandwich. Brianna was playing with the peanut butter jar lid and her face was swollen. I really didn’t know what was happening.

Now I help read labels to make sure her food is safe. If she has a reaction, I get mom right away.”

Mackenzie, who is eleven, knows that Brianna has to have her medications (antihistamines and epinephrine) with her wherever she goes. She knows that everyone in the family has to wipe their hands, and she asks her friends to wash their hands too when they eat foods that Brianna is allergic to.

The Adkins family is proud to report that Mackenzie and Trinity have earned PAL (Protect A Life) awards for keeping their sister safe.

If you live in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, or Hampton Roads, and may be suffering from food allergies or a peanut allergy, please call us at any of our 3 locations listed below. Our Allergists are here to help you.


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