Hollywood's bright light has been very good to Holly Robinson Peete, having starred in two highly successful television series and finishing as runner-up on last season's Celebrity Apprentice
. But that doesn't mean the actress, who currently co-hosts The Talk
on CBS, hasn't had her own fair share of parenting scares.
After her then-3-year-old son Rodney was diagnosed with autism, she had him tested for food allergies to adjust his diet. Little did she know they'd discover a severe peanut allergy. Now, all four of her kids — Ryan and Rodney Jr., 14, Robinson, 9, and Roman, 6 — have been diagnosed with food allergies, and the hot mama knows a thing or two about anaphylaxis. Holly spoke with me about living with deadly food allergies and how families can cope with the diagnosis.
LilSugar: Have you ever experienced an anaphylactic reaction, and did you respond the way you thought you would?
Holly Robinson Peete: Yeah, it was a crazy moment. I went a little nuts and then I calmed down. I tried to remember everything that I had been taught. I've had two situations. One was out of the country with my younger son who has a severe dairy allergy and the other was at Thanksgiving. Thankfully, both times I had access to my EpiPens, because otherwise — gosh I don't even want to think about what would have happened. I didn't have [a pen] at my mom’s house, but, thankfully, I live close enough that I was able to run and get it. I learned you need to have them everywhere your kids are going to be. Especially grandma and grandpa's house.
LS: When do you think parents should start teaching their tots about their allergy and how?
HRP: Well, every parent has to do it their own way. My particular way was, as soon as they could talk, they had to learn what foods they needed to be avoiding, really trying to explain the seriousness of their allergies, trying to explain to them what anaphalaxis is (you should hear my 3-year-old saying anaphylaxis, it's hilarious!), and not being afraid of saying the word death — that it is a deadly situation. I think all parents have different ways of talking about that. For me, it works being open and honest about it. What I found, we would go to birthday parties and things and they would be going "uh – does that have dairy in it? Does that have peanuts?"
Keep reading to see what Holly's tips for helping kids feel normal with their diagnoses and how to handle birthday parties.