My one-year-old daughter’s face swelled up to the point that she was unrecognizable. Even her ears had doubled in size. I thought to myself, how can a pea sized portion of peanut butter cause this? It didn’t make any sense and I didn’t understand what was happening. My husband and I didn’t know what to do so we called Telehealth and talked to a nurse right away. She told us that as long as she is breathing fine that we were okay to give her benadryl and keep a close eye on her. It took two whole days for the swelling to go down and for my daughter to feel like herself again.

The next few days we saw our doctor and were referred to an allergist. We were told that our daughter was anaphylactic to peanuts and she will probably never grow out of it. The allergist discussed with us how to use an epi-pen and that we were to carry it with us at all times. We were then made very aware of the seriousness of the situation. We needed to discuss with our families and friends how to be peanut-free from now on. Our child’s life depended on it. 

Why did this happen to her and could I have prevented it? Was it something I did or didn’t do while pregnant with her? These thoughts consumed me with guilt. I needed to know more. What if my husband  and I have more kids and they have life-threatening allergies too? Having a baby with anaphylaxis we were on guard all the time, even at the grocery store or out to eat. I had to inspect all labels and make sure none of them said “may contain peanuts” or “may have come in contact with peanuts”. I started to bake more and make things that were safe for my daughter. 

I needed to find out more and what I could do for my family as a mother. I knew how much nutrition played a major role in our health and how important it was to fuel our bodies with the proper nutrients. Due to the fact that as a young adult I developed early signs of cervical cancer and was able to stop it before it progressed to anything serious with a natural approach. There had to be answers out there for my current situation with my daughter’s health. 

It was necessary for me to know if there was something I could have done to prevent my daughter’s anaphylaxis from happening. Was it because we sanitized the crap out of everything and didn’t expose our daughter to any dirt? If she dropped her soother on the floor, we boiled that sucker for at least half an hour. And if we were going outside, she better have on sun protection of at least one hundred and be covered head to toe. To this day my mother-in-law says the reason her granddaughter never gets a sunburn is because I embedded the sunscreen into her skin when she was a baby. Well, maybe there is some truth to that

It was so easy to control my daughter’s exposure to peanuts while she was little and in our care. My husband worked the day shift and I worked afternoons so we had total authority of her well-being. Life was manageable and we were in charge until junior kindergarten started. There was always a birthday party or an in-class party where a parent brought in cupcakes or cake which was never peanut-free. Imagine telling a four year old that they can’t have any birthday cake. It was heart-breaking and just plain wrong. A cupcake to them was no big deal, full of sprinkles and love. I wanted to tell all of the parents how difficult it was for my child and the threat these treats posed to the health and life of our daughter.

 We were very lucky to have some amazing teachers at our daughter’s school who took it upon themselves to have special treats in these situations. Those teachers have a special place in my heart. 

My daughter learned very early on how serious her allergy was and became very responsible at a young age. If kids were to offer her a snack she took it upon herself to ask if it was peanut-free and would then ask a teacher to read the list of ingredients. Birthday parties were tough, a lot of crying at first but then she realized just how much she loved ice cream. Thank goodness for Chapmans being peanut-free. 

She was four years old when I started to think about doing something else career-wise. Both my husband and I  work opposite shifts so we didn’t have to worry about daycare but it made me so unhappy and unfulfilled. I went to school for desktop publishing and advertising right out of high school but found myself wanting more as I  love helping people. It’s just in my nature. I  have always been the one my family or friends called to ask about their health related symptoms and what it could be. That’s when I started to think about going back to school. 

I browsed the internet and came across holistic nutrition. My eyes lit Peanut Allergy | 29 up, that’s it! This is where my health journey began and I enrolled in the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.

Not only would I be able to help my family and friends, I would be able to help others as well. Nutrition has always fascinated me and going back to school has saved my life and given me purpose. This lifestyle has made me a happy, healthy and mindful person. I love getting up every day and helping people be their very best as I have learned to be. Nutrition has grounded me and was there for me for preventive healthcare and has been there for my family on a daily basis. I now have answers for my family, my friends and my clients as it’s filled my investigative nature knowing that for every symptom there is a reason for it. 

My daughter is twelve now and she has twin six year old brothers. With what I  learned through holistic nutrition, I  was able to have twin boys that have no allergies. With my schooling I found out how important my gut health was during pregnancy to help build my sons’ immune system. Feeding the good bacteria was essential for my sons’ digestion and created a stronger immune system. I  took a probiotic every day and loaded up on fermented foods like sauerkraut to build up my immune system and that of my babies. By having this education it was a handy tool box and eye opener when symptoms presented themselves. When my boys developed eczema I knew that they weren’t getting enough essential fatty acids in their diet so I was able to add this in right away and reverse it. I found out that good fats, especially in omega 3 form contain long chain fatty acids that greatly benefit the skin and boosts hydration. When my daughter had eczema I took her to the doctor and was given a cortisone cream to treat it topically but not getting to the root of the why. My education has made me delve deeper into the symptoms, the why’s, and made me a more educated parent and health practitioner. 

With holistic nutrition I have achieved a good balance for my family and for my clients. My husband and I actually see each other during the week now instead of hi-fiving between shifts and I’m able to give my children a solid foundation in their nutrition. I have found harmony in my life and in my practice helping clients thanks to my holistic nutrition education. 

My kids are very aware of what makes them feel good and what their bodies need to thrive and to grow. I love it when I ask them what they would like for a snack and they reply with a healthy answer like cauliflower. It sure makes me smile and feel good about my choice to go back to school. Nutrition is everything to me to be my best self. My kids are learning to make wise choices in their health and are choosing a life of abundance, colour and variety thanks to me. I am by no means perfect and do let them have treats as I know how important it is to not feel deprived of anything. 

In the beginning I lived in constant fear of losing my daughter and panicked every time I dropped her off at school or for a birthday party. The anxiety my husband and I felt was overwhelming for us. We are both in more of a relaxed state now and have come a long way since that first anaphylactic episode. I am so filled with gratitude and love in knowing that we have kept our daughter safe as she continues to face her peanut allergy in her daily life. 

Connect with Stacey Brisson via  her website, on Facebook, Linkedin, & Videos 

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