How to Make Food Challenges Easier for Food Allergic Patients

 Another food challenge is on the calendar for later this month. This one is for eggs. After going through multiple challenges for wheat, milk, baked milk and baked egg, we've learned a few things and I plan to make some changes that will hopefully help relieve some of the anxiety and uncertainty heading into this one.

This time:
  • I will bring a variety of foods. Since this is an egg challenge, I will bring french toast, scrambled eggs and a hard boiled egg. This gives us several options and a back-up plan in case something goes wrong (food gets contaminated at the allergist's office- oh yes, it's happened!)
  • I will bring our toaster from home. French toast heated in the microwave multiple times is a soggy, mushy mess. The idea is to make the food appealing after we've referred to it as "dangerous" for over a decade.
  • I will bring plates, utensils and condiments from home. French toast just tastes better with a silver fork and a little honey or syrup.
  • I will bring a laptop and a Redbox movie we've been waiting to see. No more watching a movie from home for the seventeenth time- this truly needs to be a distraction! 
I also think the clinical setting could be better adapted for people going through food challenges, so I have a few suggestions for the allergists out there who conduct challenges in their offices. 

I wish allergists would:

  • designate a space for food challenges. Must we sit in a regular exam room, on a bed staring at tongue depressors and a disposal case for medical waste? This is not a space conducive to relaxed eating.
  • create a homey atmosphere in the challenge room. How about a table, comfortable chairs, a microwave and toaster oven we can use? A big screen TV and some board games would be a nice touch. We're trying to forget that we're sitting in a doctor's office waiting to see if there is going to an anaphylactic reaction. An inviting, calming environment would be helpful.
Do you have other ideas for families or allergists heading into a food challenge? I'd love to hear what works for you!

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