Like many parents faced with an unexpected diagnosis, Eudora Miller sometimes marvels at the silver linings and blessings in disguise that come from living with multiple food allergies, such as watching your children grow to be both resilient and empathetic.
Eudora—an HR manager for a national hotel chain— lives in Northern Virginia with her daughter, Gracie, 5; son, Eli 2½; and husband Andrew. When Gracie was four months old, she was suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms, and the Millers were told that she was cow milk intolerant. When they tried again to give her milk at age 1, she developed hives everywhere that it touched her skin, known as a “contact reaction.” Further testing showed Gracie also to be allergic to eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, sesame, coconut, mango and chickpeas.
About two years ago, a baked milk challenge (conducted in a doctor’s office) resulted in anaphylaxis, requiring a shot of epinephrine. Eudora notes that Gracie wasn’t phased, but that she’s keenly aware of her allergies. “She’s very good about it and loves to bake and cook,” Eudora says, noting that a side benefit of eating homemade foods is that they tend to be healthier than processed foods.
Gracie and her brother, Eli bake allergy-friendly cookies.
Many of the recipes that the Miller family uses come from KFA’s enormous recipe database. They discovered KFA’s vast array of resources from Facebook friends, who recommended the recipes as being invaluable to living successfully with multiple food allergies. And the Millers share what they learn from KFA with friends and grandparents, as well as with Gracie’s and Eli’s daycare center. In fact, the daycare center credits the knowledge shared by the Miller family and KFA with helping them improve their own policies and procedures, leading to better care for all their children with food allergies.
Photos by Eudora Miller
“KFA has played a huge role in helping us with resources,” says Eudora, who also likes KFA’s alerts about new food products. “There are a lot of items we wouldn’t have known about otherwise, like safe sorbet.”
KFA’s pioneering webinars—the first in the food allergy community—have become something of a family affair, with Gracie’s dad, Andrew, often watching with Gracie’s grandparents. One particularly helpful webinar was Celebrating Birthdays with Food Allergies. (All of KFA’s webinars are free and archived online.)
Even Gracie’s little brother, Eli, is affected by his sister’s allergies—in a good way. Acting as her protector, he’ll tell visitors, “You have to wash your hands!” since she is very contact-sensitive. “He knows exactly what she can and cannot have,” says Eudora.
KFA’s resources allow the Millers to normalize their lives, although there is nothing ordinary about Gracie. Her mother says the song-and-dance-loving little girl has an uncanny ability to pick out winners on the televised reality singing show “The Voice,” among other talents.
“KFA has been such a blessing to our family,” says Eudora. “They are an organization that truly cares. It’s helpful to know that there are other families who deal with the same challenges that we do and that we can support one another. Whenever I hear of someone whose child has food allergies, I immediately refer them to KFA.”