According to 'Allergy UK' website "50% of children in the UK have some form of allergic condition".
"Childhood allergy is now a recognised problem for children and parents across the country. What, in past years, may have seemed a minor irritation is now accepted as having the potential to be a debilitating condition
Allergy is when the body has a reaction to a protein (e.g. foods, insect stings, pollens) or other substance (e.g. antibiotic). These substances are called allergens, and for most people they are harmless. Common things that children are allergic to include: food (e.g. peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat and fish), pollens from tree and grasses, house dust mite and insect stings.
Allergic symptoms can affect the nose, throat, ears, eyes, airways, digestion and skin in mild, moderate or severe form. Symptoms of allergy affect many children on a daily basis, and the impact these symptoms have on a child's general health and well-being can go largely unnoticed until they have been suffering with the problem for some time.
The consequences of suffering with one, or several, of these symptoms every day can cause a child to struggle with their schooling and other general abilities. Concentration levels can be reduced from lack of sleep, or simply from dealing with the symptoms."
I first began exploring allergies eleven years ago when my eldest son developed eczema on his face as a baby. At the time he was being fed cows milk based formula plus a fairly standard western diet which included some meat, fish, eggs as well as fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes etc. I weaned him onto solid food at about 4 months of age because he appeared very hungry and he consumed a very large amount of formula milk on a daily basis. I took him to the doctor about his poor little face on a regular basis, and he was prescribed steroid creams which we diligently applied without question. The eczema would go away and come back a week later and the process would start again. I knew something was not quite adding up so I began to dig a little further into causes of eczema in children.
It became apparent pretty quickly that my son actually had an allergy to something in his diet and it didn't take long to work out that his formula milk was the main culprit. I began making changes to his diet, starting with his formula milk which I discontinued (he was over 1 year at this point) and his face immediately improved. We made gradual changes to all of our diets over the next few years, giving up meat, then fish, eggs and dairy products completely. In addition, we did lots of research into formula versus breast feeding and became much more educated about the importance of diet in pregnancy, from birth for the infant and then most recently about weaning to solid foods (when and how to do it and how to know when your child's digestive system is truly ready). Our findings were pretty mind-blowing and turned our whole approach to parenting and life in general, on its head!
Of course, many children have allergies which cannot be overcome with simple changes to diet and many parents face the ongoing challenge of managing often quite serious allergies on a daily basis, whilst attempting to strike a balance to ensure their child does not miss out on foods their peers enjoy. Eating at school for children with allergies can be particularly difficult, as can attending birthday parties and social gatherings where foods which could cause a reaction are often easily available. Similarly, children who follow fairly strict diets for other reasons (health, religious, choice for example) face the same problem.
We found that our children (who all now follow a plant based, wholefood diet for the most part) felt left out on such special occasions and we tried to find suitable 'free-from' products to send with them to school / birthday parties etc. but we didn't have much luck and what we DID find, they didn't like (ah children!!). Inspired, we decided to create something just for them and the end product was MULU Organic Raw Chocolate Buttons. They are free from dairy, soya, gluten and refined cane sugar and they are created in a nut free environment so they are 'safe' for most children (and adults!) and they taste really great too! When our kids took them to school and parties, other children and parents would ask where we got them from so we decided to take the product to market. We worked with children from a local primary school to develop the packaging as we wanted it to be appealing to all children, to avoid kids on special diets being singled out as 'different'. The end result was a cute little package of love for kids young and old to enjoy and we couldn't be happier with that outcome!