Hiking with Food Allergies and Asthma: A 9 yr old’s perspective

Will walking a trail with his trail bag on his back

Hi, I’m Will and I’m 9. I have asthma and food allergies and today I’m going to tell you what it’s like for me when I go out hiking and walking on nature trails with my family. You might think that food allergies and asthma would be difficult for me and make going out like other kids impossible but it doesn’t. I’ll to tell you all about how I keep myself safe while having tons of fun with my family outside.

When I was really young, my parents found out that I had asthma. Everytime I would cry, my face would turn really red and I would cough. The same thing would happen when I laughed. My parents took me to the doctor and found out that I had asthma. Dust, pollen and mold make me cough a lot and I have to try and stay away from those things as much as I can. A while later, I started having bad reactions to foods. The first time my mom knew something was wrong was when my lip started swelling after I ate a sausage patty that was made with eggs. My parents took me to the doctor and found out that I had life threatening food allergies to: eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, grapes, peas, green beans and raisins. They had to start carrying an epi pen, asthma inhalers and start educating all of our family and friends about how these foods are dangerous to me and if I ate them, I could die. It took a while for them to adjust to keeping those foods out of the house and how to keep me safe. We have a great allergy doctor and she helps us whenever we have questions. She actually encourages us to not live in a “bubble” and to go out and do things all the time.

Hiking with my family is fun. We go to places that I’ve never been before and sometimes we go to places we have been just to see if things are different. When I go out with my family, I have to be prepared. I carry a trail bag that has all of my medication (epi pen, inhaler), hand sanitizer, whistle just in case I get lost, and bug spray because I hate bug bites. I have to keep this bag on me at all times and I have to make sure I don’t leave it out in the sun or get it wet. The medicine in my epi pen can’t get too hot or it won’t work if I ever need to use it. Sometimes we go to places where I have to climb over rocks or up steep hills, like in the mountains. If I start to feel my chest get tight or if I start to cough I have to use my inhaler. I haven’t really had to do that much so that’s a good thing.

We always pack snacks or lunch and water for all of us  just in case we get hungry or thirsty while we are out. Since I have a lot of food allergies, I can’t eat foods like trail mix or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We have to eat pretty healthy and read labels on foods carefully. My parents have taught me to read labels too for all of the foods that I can’t have. I also have to watch out for foods that have a “manufactured in a facility” label because those foods have a chance of coming in contact with things that I am allergic to and I don’t want to risk having a reaction.

When we pack our food, we bring fruit such as apples or oranges, vegetables like celery and carrots. We try to pack foods that don’t need to be kept cold. Instead of trail mix, my mom makes homemade granola bars with cinnamon and honey and sometimes takes the bars and chops them into pieces so we have granola bites instead of bars. Since I can’t have peanut butter, we eat Sunbutter. I really like the taste of it and it makes a good sandwich. I always have chips because I love chips. Having a list of safe foods for me is very important because it keeps me safe and also allows me to do things just like every other kid out side.

Having food allergies and asthma keeps me from eating some normal hiking food and running too much but doesn’t keep me from having fun.  I hope you liked the information that I have shared. Do you know anyone that has food allergies? How do they keep themselves safe when they’re outside or with their friends? I hope you learned something today and thank you for reading.

Will

Families Who Hike

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