I while back I was asked by Circle of Moms to share a little about our food allergies. For those new to the world of food allergies/intolerances, I hope you'll find a bit of encouragement here.
What's one thing you'd like all parents to know about food allergies (either about your family's specific allergies or in general)?
The food allergies/intolerances we manage in our home are to gluten, dairy, and egg. In addition, soy, yeast, legumes, nuts, sweeteners, and high-sugar fruits are currently restricted in our son's diet. Artificial flavors, colors and preservatives are strictly avoided.
From personal experience, there will be days you feel you have this allergy thing under control. And then there will be days you find yourself sitting in front of the fridge, crying. You may even begin to have feelings of doubt. Doubt that you are doing enough to nourish your child. Doubt that you are a good enough mom, dad, or caregiver. Go easy on yourself. Having a child(ren) with health issues can take a toll on your own mental health and well-being. Remember to take care of you, too. Do all you can to find a way to deal with the doubt and anxiety that can come with special diets and illness. Find a support group, make a friend online who is in your boat, talk to someone.
What advice would you give to a parent who just found out their child has a food allergy?
Some of my best tips have come from my readers and and the blogging community. People ask how you do it. To which I answer, "you just do." And be grateful that what you are dealing with is ALL that you are dealing with.
1. HAVE A GOOD CRY. This is real loss. Allow yourself to go through the grieving process; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. Here's a great post on that topic.
2. MAKE A PLAN. Research replacements for the foods you are going to be living without.
3. PURGE THE PANTRY. Go through the pantry and fridge and remove the offenders. By ridding your home of foods to be avoided, you are removing any and all temptation. This should include the immediate removal of life-threatening offenders. If the rest of the family refuses to support the member with the food allergy by forgoing that food as well, establish a “non-safe food shelf”— preferably up high. But do all you can to get buy-in from the rest of the family to remove the food completely—especially in the case of foods that easily cross-contaminate like gluten-full grains.
4. GO SHOPPING. Now it's time to stock up on foods that can safely be eaten. Most natural food stores offer tours. Just ask. Many nutritionists and health coaches also offer this service for a reasonable fee. They can help you get acquainted with new products and teach you how to read labels for hidden ingredients.
5. MEAL PLAN. Plan your meals for the week and avoid that 4:00 pm feeling of defeat! There are some great services that can help. If you are gluten-free, check out www.gfreecuisine.com. In five minutes you can plan and generate a gluten-free menu plan for the week. Also, find 2-3 snack foods you can prepare at the start of the week and have on hand. And don’t feel guilty about sticking to the basics—roast chicken and two veggies for dinner, for example. A green smoothie and sausage patty for breakfast. As much as you may want to be Julia “Allergy Mom” Childs, give yourself a break. I have found that hanging a big old menu board in the kitchen helps me (see pic above).
What are your three favorite blogs posts:
- Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Yogurt Recipe
- Egg-Free Saturday Pancakes Recipe
- Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe
What are your go-to products or brands?
- Agar-Agar Powder
- Coconut Oil
- Coconut Secret® Coconut Aminos
- Coconut Secret® Coconut Nectar
- Coconut Sugar
- NuStevia® Vanilla Liquid Stevia
- Raw Honey
- Thai Kitchen® Coconut Milk
- White Chia Seed (1 T ground + 1/4 cup water = 1 egg replacement)
- Ancient Harvest® Corn and Quinoa Pasta
- Applegate Farms® Meat Products
- Authentic Foods® Brown Rice Flour
- Bob’s Red Mill® All Purpose GF Mix
- Earth Balance® Soy-Free Buttery Spread
- Enjoy Life® Chocolate Chips
- Food For Life® Yeast Free, Wheat, & Gluten Free Multi Seed Rice Bread
- Glutino® Pretzels (treat)
- Mary’s Gone Crackers Crackers
- So Delicious® Unsweetened Coconut Milk & Yogurt (when we travel)
- Tinkyada® Brown Rice Pasta
Ice Cream Cookbook Giveaway Winner
Finally, congratulations to Judie who commented "I would love to win your book. I have been lactose intolerant for over 40 years and have a terrible time with my sweet tooth. Also, gluten free for 2 years. Any help I can get is appreciated. Thank you for this opportunity." Judie you are the winner of The Spunky Coconut Ice Cream Cookbook giveaway. You are going to LOVE this book! Enjoy.