Since beginning The Food Allergy Mom blog not quite a year ago, I’ve been fortunate to hear from so many wonderful people who support the food allergy community and do simply amazing things. I have to confess, today’s guest post is from one of those wonderful people who provides a simply FANTASTIC resource for families with food allergies.
As the mom of a family with food allergies, I used to think of vacations as something we would never be able to safely do. Now, I know better thanks to the support and encouragement from people like Liz at Allergyfreemouse.com. Just this summer my family and I visited Walt Disney World for the very first time and had a wonderful experience…even with multiple food allergies.
I know you will embrace Liz’s story and marvel at the resource she is providing to the food allergy community. Please take a moment to read her post and then head on over to Allergyfreemouse.com and check it out!
We are so thankful to The Food Allergy Mom and the great information she shares with her readers on this website. This website is a great resource. We are also thankful that she shared her Disney dining experiences on our website, helping other people with food allergies discover the magic of Disney without the stress we all experience when we travel. We are very grateful for the opportunity to share our story here.
Our daughter was born with a severe dairy, egg, and beef allergy. She has outgrown the egg allergy and the beef allergy has gotten much better. However, her dairy allergy is still severe. In fact, she cannot even touch dairy! As anyone knows, as parents of food allergy kids, we have to be “on guard” all of the time. Kids eat everywhere these days – it keeps them quite, busy and complacent, but it also impacts our lives. Play dates, swimming pools, restaurants, parks, classrooms, birthday parties and other events keep us on high alert!
If everyday life posed such challenges, could we ever go on vacation? The thought of cooking and preparing all of her meals seemed daunting. Of course, I would do it, with a smile. But what if I didn’t have to? And what if we could go somewhere exciting and someone could actually cook a safe meal for my child? That sounded like a true dream vacation for the whole family.
A friend of ours went to Disney World and raved about how they treated her child, who has a peanut allergy. She is a pharmacist and convinced me that our daughter would be in great hands. I was skeptical, but she encouraged me to try. I planned our trip (not knowing much) and took enough food to cover our daughter’s meals, just in case I didn’t feel comfortable. We arrived at our hotel and I unpacked an enormous amount of food, only to repack it later to take it home at the end of our trip!
We had a wonderful time. The managers, the chefs and the wait staff really understood. The dining experiences were fantastic. However, we found other food contact issues that we didn’t expect. Our daughter’s first skin reaction (hives) was from sitting down (wearing shorts) on a bench where someone had been eating ice cream. Benadryl and baby wipes took care of that. Easy fix, but always scary. The next day she wore a dress with leggings and we wiped down chairs and tables at every stop. We eagerly went to meet Pooh and Friends at the Crystal Palace. She had pictures taken with them, they signed her autograph book and she received hugs from them all. Then came reaction number two – hives on her left cheek. Baby wipes and Benadryl again. I made a note to be sure to wipe her face after she hugged any Disney Character. The rest of the week went smoothly, with no reactions.
Knowing we were going to come again, I made a list of dos and don’ts for our next visit. I shared them with everyone I knew who wanted to visit Disney. I added our growing list of grocery stores, hospitals, the best restaurants, etc. to help others. Before I knew it, I had a great deal of information to share. Being a teacher for 20 years, I frequently find myself educating people about food allergies.
Amazingly, very few people know about the safe measures Disney has created for our little ones. We see this on every visit. I thought it would be great to create a website that is dedicated to Disney and food allergies, to get the latest information – a place where people share restaurant reviews, tips, and dos and don’ts for all food allergies. There are plenty of sites devoted to Disney and 4 or 5 websites for food allergy dining reviews. But no one focuses on Disney, and it is such a magical treat. Therefore, we created AllergyFreeMouse.com for Disney fans with food allergies.
I organized all of our information into logical groupings. Then my husband designed and built the site and made it very search engine friendly so people could find it easily. Plus, he helped write some of the content. It’s truly a family project. From time to time, I also post recipes to share on our blog. They’re not related to Disney, but they’ve been very popular for those with food allergies.
We’ve been back 3 times and love it more each time. So, our daughter has eaten at “the World” for a total of 21 days now, and only had two contact reactions. Oh – and we had FUN to boot!