No Nuts for Me ~ Food Allergies

And tonight’s ingredient for the 30 minute cooking challenge is…

Ben held his breath; he had come so far in master kids chef. Tonight was the grand final. He had spent months on the competition whipping up the most fantastic meals and tonight was his time to shine. Ben was up against Sue; she was a fantastic cook from Thailand who always impressed the judges with her spicy Asian delights.

“Peanuts!!!!”

Ben’s heart sunk. He knew that Sue was incredible at cooking with peanuts and even worse… he was allergic to them!

His mind races rapidly back to his 6th birthday at school.

Ben’s classmates were joyfully singing happy birthday to Ben as the Mrs Honey brought out an extravagant racecar cake for him. Ben’s mum had baked him the cake the night before because she knew this cake was his favorite.

Mrs Honey cut the cake into even pieces and within minutes the whole cake had been wolfed down.

Ben went to the schoolyard to play with his friends, now all even more full of energy. A few minutes later Ben noticed that his skin was itchy and had broken out into a red rash and his face began to swell. He began to scratch and cry and Mrs Honey rushed out to the schoolyard. Mrs Honey had already called Ben’s mum who picked him up straight away and took him to the doctor.

“I see it is your birthday young man, Happy Birthday Ben! Mr name is Dr Jude”.

Ben’s mum quickly recounted the story to Dr Jude and he performed a quick examination.

“It looks like you have developed a reaction to your birthday cake Ben! This is what we call a food allergy. Food allergies happen when our body’s immune system mounts an immune response to a specific part of food. Normally our immune system provides our body with a protective mechanism against bugs but sometimes it can get a little out of hand and protect against things that is doesn’t need to – like birthday cake! Often the immune response is mediated by a little protein in your blood called IgE.

First things first I will give you a medicine called an anti histamine which will stop you feeling itchy.” Ben took the medicine and soon he felt much better.

Avoiding allergic triggers is a very important part of managing your feed allergy. In order for me to confirm which substances you are allergic to, I would like to perform an allergy skin prick test. You will need to come back to see me again in a few days because the anti histamine will interfere with the results.

The skin prick test involves me cleaning the skin on your back or forearm with alcohol, and using a tiny needle to drop a small amount of allergen into your skin. I will test a wide variety of allergens. If you are allergic to one of the tested allergens, a small itchy lump known as a wheal will appear within 15-20 minutes.

This test may be slightly uncomfortable but is usually well tolerated. The local swelling will get better within an hour.”

Ben and his mother returned a few days later for the skin prick test. Twenty minutes after Dr Rudy had tested the allergens Ben developed a wheal to the peanut allergen.

“We have your answer”, Dr Rudy pronounced confidently, “you have a food allergy to peanuts”.

Ben and his mother were relieved that they had found what caused Ben’s problem.

“The treatment for this food allergy is to completely avoid peanuts. I would advise that you let your school know so in future, baked goods wont make your allergy play up again. I will also develop a management plan for you. If you develop a mild reaction to peanuts again with a rash and itchy skin, take some antihistamine medications. If your face swells and you become short of breath and wheezy you will need some adrenaline in the form of an Epipen. I will ensure you always have this on you and I will arrange for my allergy nurse to teach you how to use it. “

Ben began to sweat on stage at the master kids chef competition. He checked his pocket and noticed that his Epipen was not in there. He knew that if he cooked with the peanuts he would definitely become itchy and short of breath again. Ben had no choice but to tell the judges that he could not cook with the peanuts.

The judges took to this very well and changed the 30-minute cooking changed ingredient to salmon.

“Ready, set, go!” The judges called out and Ben and Sue began to swiftly prepare their meals. At the end of the thirty minutes Ben had made the most beautiful salmon tartare and Sue had whipped up a delicious red salmon curry.

Ben’s tartare impressed the judge’s palates and he was announced winner of the master kids chef competition! Ben was so relieved that his food allergy did not hold him back from his dream of being the best 6-year-old cook in his country!

Anna Waldie

For more information about food allergies:

Australasian Society for Immunology and Allergy

Allergy UK


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