Haley and Jenni Hunter Allergies Interview
As allergy diagnoses amongst children grow it has become paramount to fully disclose all ingredients when preparing food whether it is for a café, friends or to sell at the local fundraising stall. The public along with the food industry has to continue to provide caring and precise service surrounding life threatening allergies as recent research has shown the majority of food allergic reactions occur when the sufferer is eating outside the home. Awareness and education save lives as when a food allergy is correctly managed sufferers can lead a close to normal life.
I am quiet lucky to not have any severe allergies or intolerances, but my sister, Haley, has and growing up I could always see it wasn't easy for her or my parents. I believe it is important to provide both sides to the allergy story; which is why I sat down with Haley and her mother (which yes, happens to be my mother too) to chat about how Haley's allergies affected her childhood, her experiences and what tips they have for other people who have a child with severe allergies.
Interview with Haley HunterQuestion:
What are you allergic to?Haley Hunter
: Peanuts, egg and tuna. I also cannot eat sesame seeds as they have a similar affect to peanuts. Question:
How and when were you diagnosed with food allergies?Haley Hunter
: When I was younger, I had allergy testing and I reacted to peanuts and eggs. Question:
What type of reaction would occur if you accidently did eat one of the foods you're allergic too, now?Haley Hunter
: I don't know about peanuts or tuna as I haven't ever eaten them as I was diagnosed at a young age. If I eat something with a small portion of egg in it, for example a cake with one egg, it makes me sick in the stomach and sinus. I have never eaten a whole egg.Question:
Have you ever accidently consumed a food containing one of these ingredients?Haley Hunter
: I believe as a child I may have had a peanut touch my lips, in Kinder. Egg is quiet hard to avoid, as an ingredient, and I just need to make sure it's small doses. Question:
As a child, do you remember, how did having allergies affect you? Haley Hunter
: I hated it as a child as I was never able to eat cakes and I would go to parties and not be able to eat the cake. I also had to ask the ingredients of anything I ate that my mum didn't give me. My mum would also have to tell the parents of my friends if I was going to their house. Question:
You are now 20 years of age - how do these allergies affect your everyday life?Haley Hunter
: I try to not let eggs affect me as I just don't eat things I know that contain eggs. If I want a food that I know has a small amount of egg, I eat it and put up with the sickness.
I can smell peanuts and tuna and am able to avoid them. I avoid eating nuts that aren't bought by me in case they are peanuts and I have to sit away if anyone is eating peanuts or peanut butter. This is hard, as I work in a primary school and students come up and talk to me, whilst eating their peanut butter sandwich.
I also remember having a gorgeous cake, for my 18th birthday that I couldn't even eat, because it had too many eggs
What substitutes do you implement for the foods you're allergic to?Haley Hunter
: We have found that applesauce can be substituted for eggs in some cakes and I used to have ice-cream cakes, for my birthday. I also used to eat dried fruit where others would be eating nuts. Question:
What precautions are implemented around your household to protect you from an allergic reaction?Haley Hunter
: I live with my parents and they don't eat peanut butter around me and put it away when I am around. They also only eat satay or tuna when I am not home. Question:
Do your parents or siblings have any allergies?Haley Hunter
: My sister and dad are slightly allergic to capsicum and my mum is intolerant to peanuts. Mum and I both suffer from hayfever and other environmental allergies. Question:
What advice would you give to someone else who may have just been diagnosed with an allergy?Haley Hunter
: Make sure to ask the ingredients of a meal, no matter how annoying it is. These days there seems to be substitutes for everything so it's pretty easy to live a normal life.
Interview with Jenni HunterQuestion:
How and when was Haley diagnosed with her food allergies? Jenni Hunter
: Haley was diagnosed at about three months of age through a skin test. Haley and myself were part of an allergy test programme and these tests were part of the programme.Question:
How did you feel when you found out Haley was highly allergic to a variety of different foods? Jenni Hunter
: I was really glad that we were part of the programme and therefore she had not consumed them and possibly had an adverse reaction. As I was breast feeding I was advised to stop eating the foods Haley was allergic too. It made me much more aware of the ingredients in products and ensuring that Haley didn't consume any foods that we didn't know the ingredients of.Question:
What type of reaction would Haley have if she was to eat peanuts or eggs?Jenni Hunter
: When younger the doctor believed that she would go into anaphylactic shock but as she has grown they believe Haley is not at such danger. We are aware that if Haley consumes foods with small amounts of egg in, several times of a number of days, Haley develops cold like symptoms with excess mucus.Question:
How do you go about serving foods that state "may contain traces of nuts"?Jenni Hunter
: As Haley is no longer "highly allergic" and it is only "may contain traces of nuts" and not "may contain nuts", we are not concerned now.Question:
What precautions did you implement around the household when Haley was a young child?Jenni Hunter
: I stopped using eggs in cooking at all and only made recipes free from the allergy ingredients. We still continued to have peanut butter ourselves but always ensured Haley was not nearby and any implements used were immediately washed. As Haley cannot stand the smell of peanut butter we would never leave the jar on the bench with the lid off.Question:
What precautions did you implement when Haley went to friends' houses and school camps?Jenni Hunter
: I advised the people in charge of her allergies and what to do or not to do. Haley had been taught not to eat anything that she didn't know was safe so often did not eat at birthday parties as was unsure. At camp Haley would do the same and at one camp where the school did not bother to advise the camp Haley often went hungry as did not want to say anything.Question:
Do you believe having allergies has changed Haley's experiences, in anyway?Jenni Hunter
: I believe it has made Haley much more aware of food ingredients and taking note of other people's allergies and understanding they cannot eat these things. I believe Haley has just accepted it and lives with it as knows there are alternatives. Question:
Do you have allergies?Jenni Hunter
: I have environmental allergies - hayfever, dust, etc.Question:
What advice would you give to a parent whose child has just been diagnosed with a food allergy? Jenni Hunter
: Do some basic research on the internet, purchase some allergy free recipe books, diligently read the ingredients on all food items, exhibit to the child that this is not a bad thing and make sure you provide other special food items to replace any they can't eat.
Interviews by Brooke Hunter
For more information visit the AAI website: www.allergyfacts.org.au
or call 1300 728 000.