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9 Ways to Tell If You're the Annoying Food Allergy Mom

For the past three months, my 8-year-old has had some serious, mysterious stomach issues that have left him unable to hold down most foods with the exception of rice, bananas and apple sauce. We had been to just about every G.I. and abdominal specialist in Southern California. They all had the same diagnosis, "He's totally fine."

But since my kid couldn't digest food and was getting major stomach issues after he ate, my husband and I went for a second (or 10th?) opinion and finally had a diagnosis that made sense. After a few nasty stomach flus earlier this fall, our son's ability to digest lactose had been totally diminished. He had become lactose intolerant and the good bacteria and villi in his stomach lining needed time to grow back.

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Being lactose intolerant he can't have dairy, too much sugar, or foods that turn into lactose when digested. "But lactose is in everything!" I said to our pediatrician who nodded in agreement.

"Yes, you're just going to have to become an expert. You're going to be reading a lot of labels," he said.

As I joined the ranks of the allergy moms, I was determined not to be one of the annoying ones.

Suddenly, I was overtaken with the need to buy a zillion health-related books. I spent hours Googling "lactose intolerance" and was surprised to learn just how many foods have dairy or sugar in them. Imitation crab meat, who knew? There's sugar in sushi rice? You learn something new every day.

I started to become obsessed with what my kid was eating, especially when he wasn't with me. We had finally found out what was wrong with him and I knew one bite of the wrong thing could send his stomach, and our lives, into a tailspin.

Suddenly, I had a new understanding for the parents I know whose kids have dealt with food allergies their whole lives. My daughter's pre-school class has kids with more than 16 allergies. Truthfully, those kids' moms always seemed to fall into two categories.

There were the allergy moms who just dealt with their child's allergy without making a thing of it, who didn't require the whole class to change for her child.

And then there were the second category of allergy moms, the annoying ones. Their children's allergies seemed to take over their lives, and their child's. With my son unable to digest dairy and sugar, I understood those annoying allergy moms better. It's stressful to see your kid suffer. And in some cases, an allergy can be life-threatening.

But as I joined the ranks of the allergy moms, I was determined not to be one of the annoying ones. So if you are an allergy mom and you're wondering if you just may have driven everyone around you crazy with your pre-emptive emails and menu requests, here's how you know.

And by the way, you allergy moms whose kids are anaphylactic get a hall pass. You're not annoying. You're just doing your job. The rest of us, well here's how you know.

1.Your kid's allergy isn't anaphylactic, but you still want your child's entire class to avoid eating what your kid can't eat.

If a kid has allergies, dealing with certain foods is going to be a part of his or her life. Forcing an entire class to avoid certain foods won't change that.

2. Before coming to a friend's house for a play date, you call ahead with a list of what your child can't eat instead of just bringing something he can eat.

If your kid needs an EpiPen, tell the host. But if your child has to just avoid certain foods, bring a snack for your kid or eat after the play date. Play dates don't last that long!

3. If you're going to a catered event, you ask in advance for the caterer's name and phone number so you can grill them on the ingredients in everything being served.

If you're not the host of the event, it's not your place to instruct a caterer on what to serve. There's nothing wrong with bringing something for your child if you're concerned he or she won't be able to eat what's served.

4. If you go out to dinner with another family, you ask the other parents to kindly not order their children the foods your child can't have because your child will be sad.

Kids are going to have to learn about their own differences their entire lives. The more parents are OK with a child's difference the more the child will be.

There's no reason the entire menu needs to be focused around your kid's needs.

5. You've started a campaign at your child's school that the school never serve food your kid can't have at hot lunch.

As long as there are choices your child can eat for hot lunch, there's no reason the entire menu needs to be focused around your kid's, or anyone's, needs.

6. Whenever a child in your kid's class has an upcoming birthday celebration at school, you pre-emptively send the birthday boy or girl's parents a list of what your child can't eat.

If you're concerned your kid can't have the birthday treat, send him with something he loves that he can eat. It's not that big of a deal.

7. You think it's rude (your words) when other kids eat foods your kid can't have in front of her. You don't want your kid to feel different.

It's not rude. It's life. And newsflash: Your kid is different than the kid who can eat what your kid is allergic to. It doesn't make anyone better or worse.

8. You're indignant that you should have to bring something special for your child to eat when you're going to a big event.

Unfortunately, the world can't accommodate each and every person's food issues and requests. Every allergy parent can feel angry his or her kid has to deal with avoiding certain foods, but that doesn't mean we have to be indignant that we sometimes have to accommodate our child ourselves.

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9. Your child doesn't have a food allergy, but your family has chosen to avoid certain foods like meat or fish for non-religious reasons. You want your child's school to take that into account when serving hot lunch or birthday treats.

It's great if your family has decided to go vegan. It doesn't mean the whole school has to.

Photograph by: Twenty20

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