Landon was born in the fall of 2013, he looked just like his big brother. He was adorable, he was perfect! After coming home from the hospital it wasn't long before he developed really bad eczema, but his older brother had it too so we didn't think much of it. In May 2014, Landon tried a new food for dinner. After just a tiny spoonful, his entire face turned bright red. We called the doctor, and they told us to go to the emergency room right away. By the time we got there, his whole body was covered in welts. We had no idea what was happening. I just remember praying that he would be ok. They told us he was having an allergic reaction and the next step was going to see an allergist. We found out he had not only one but three life-threatening food allergies, and that's why his eczema was so bad. We had no idea where to start. I just remember telling him he would never be alone in this. I remember thinking that finding new foods wouldn't be too hard. Boy, was I wrong! The first few times going to the store were very overwhelming. Everything we checked had at least one of his three allergens or was made in a facility with them.
We were able to find some products that didn't have his allergens listed, so we began contacting companies to find out if they were safe for him or not. This was a very long and frustrating process. I remember thinking all he was ever going to be able to eat are fruits, vegetables, and meat. As time went by, we slowly found more and more safe foods for Landon. We thought things were getting easier. Then one day I went to check the ingredients on something he had eaten a million times and it was now made in a facility with one of his allergens. Not too long after, there were several foods I could no longer find in stores. This was very hard on us. You do all this work and pour so much effort into keeping your baby safe, and suddenly things beyond your control are causing your efforts to fall apart.
This is the reality of having a kid with food allergies. It is a full-time job keeping them safe, constantly checking ingredients, contacting companies, coming up with new meal ideas so your child can have close to "normal" foods, coming up with a “plan b, c and d”, always being on guard, worrying constantly about things others don't even think twice about, carry wipes and Benadryl with you everywhere, and, of course, having those epi-pens on you always and praying you'll never have to use them. Landon is three now and has four life-threatening food allergies. The only one he has outgrown was his brief allergy to garlic. (As so many food allergy parents know firsthand, the allergy isn't always one of the Top 8 allergens). To keep him safe, we have found new ways of doing things so he can do the same things as other kids just in a different way. He will always have to be careful with anything he eats and only eat his safe food. This is our life.
So what's it like finding a new allergen-friendly company for us? Christmas morning! It's getting to open a present that you know is just for you and knowing that it came from a caring place! Every time I find a new company my family can safely eat, it's Christmas morning! I am SO THANKFUL to companies like WayFare who understand how important it is to find not only safe but good foods! Their foods are amazing! We don't have to feel like we are missing out on something. We don't have to miss things that we used to have. When you find a company that understands that and makes great foods, it makes everything easier!
Knowing how important this process was but also how challenging it was led me to want to take action, to do something. On New Year's Eve 2014, I came up with a New Year's resolution. I wanted to do something big to help other food allergy families. The idea was to build a website that families with food allergies could use to help them easily find safe foods. I thought this would also be helpful for people like me that have Celiac Disease. The only problem was I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT DOING THIS! But when I want to do something to help people I make it happen. So the research began. Long hours watching YouTube videos and reading articles on how to build a website became part of my daily routine. Once the website was pieced together, contacting companies began, and, amazingly, right off the bat I had companies excited about the idea! From New Year's Eve, it took just over a year and a half, but FINALLY on July 15, 2016 Landyslist.com was published. At the time it didn't have much on it, but I had done it! Now Landyslist has 17 companies and is getting more all the time. I hope that this helps SO many people! I knew I couldn't make food allergies easy but I hope that Landyslist helps make food allergies easier and helps with saving time and stress so families can spend more of their time doing what matters most, spending time with their food allergy Superheroes and Princesses.
Here's to all you amazing companies who are changing so many lives. I hope you know how important you are to us and that everything you do helps make our lives better! We know how much care and hard work you pour into your products and it means the world to us! This is a long journey we are on but it's so nice to know we aren't on this journey alone. Kristen Frecceri, is a mother and founder of Landyslist.com, a website that is dedicated to listing safe foods for families with food allergens.