Eastin Baker is 10 years old and loves school, music and sports. Oh, and he also has a peanut allergy. He doesn’t want his food allergy to define him and he refuses to live in fear of a reaction.
Last year, Eastin wrote “My Food Allergy Book” as a way to help him understand his feelings about having a peanut allergy. He soon realized his book could also help other kids not fear their own food allergies. The book, illustrated by his mom Megan, was published this year.
“It’s really scary to have a life-threatening food allergy and I want other kids to know how to be safe. Then they can be less scared,” he says.
Eastin’s pediatric allergist, Margaret Adair, MD, says he has always taken an active role in his care. “I think it’s how he copes with having a food allergy. Psychologically, that’s what helped Eastin, to learn as much as he could so that he could help other kids. Being different is not easy and he has dealt with that very well in trying to help other people with food allergies.”
“My Food Allergy Book” is available on Amazon in paperback and eBook.
Eastin’s Tips for Kids with Food Allergies:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before you eat, every time. (Hand sanitizer does not get the allergens off.)
- Don’t share food with anyone. Bring your own snacks.
- Ask your parents and teachers to check food labels for allergens. Don’t try a bite until you know the food is safe.
- Speak up and make sure you tell an adult if you feel funny after eating.
- Always bring an epinephrine auto-injector with you, wherever you go.
A Quick Q&A with Eastin
Q: Do you think kids will relate to “My Food Allergy Book” better than if a grown-up had written it?
Eastin: “Yes, I do. Many kids don’t even know what food allergies are. I know what it’s like to have a food allergy. I came up with the things I wrote based on my experiences. For a kid with food allergies, this book helps you know the symptoms of a reaction and the steps to follow to keep you safe. That makes it easy for kids to remember.
Q: How did you learn to self-manage your food allergies – and become an advocate for yourself?
Eastin: “After I was diagnosed with a food allergy, I started asking teachers about any snacks I wasn’t sure about. I’d say, “I don’t know if I can eat this snack, can you please check the label for me?” I bring my own snacks and don’t eat anyone else’s food. If I feel funny, I tell my teacher right away and ask her to monitor me to see if I’m having a reaction.”
Q: You participated in a clinical trial for peanut allergy immunotherapy. What did you learn about yourself?
Eastin: “At first I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do it,’ but then my mom and dad told me the clinical trial would help a lot of other kids with food allergies. Doctors would learn how long it would take kids with peanut allergies to respond to the therapy. I was really afraid to eat peanuts (as part of the clinical trial), but I knew I had to in order to help other kids. It was in a medical office, so I knew treatment was available if I had an allergic reaction.”