Hi, I’m a food allergy mom.
One of my goals with this food and lifestyle blog is to share some of what I’ve learned on the food allergy and food intolerance journey I’ve been on since having kids.
My husband and I sometimes joke about how difficult it can be at times to simply go to the grocery store to “pick up a few items.”
When you’re dealing with a serious food allergy in your family, it can sometimes feel like there’s no such thing as a quick trip to the store. And, in the beginning, right after my son was diagnosed, it often was a headache inducing, heavy research assignment of label reading and meal planning.
But, it does get easier.
And my hope is some of the recipes and resources on this blog will help make things a bit easier for you, too.
Our Food Allergy Story
Our son, who is currently a toddler, was diagnosed with a severe allergy to peanuts and tree nuts at the age of 1. We discovered his allergy when he had a scary, anaphylactic reaction to us giving him a little bit of peanut butter on toast. After a visit to the emergency room, we were sent home with a prescription for Epi-Pens, an Allergy Action Plan and a lot of resources for helping us to navigate our new world. I mean, at first I thought, Oh, so he can’t have peanut butter sandwiches. That sucks. But then I realized that not only could he not eat peanuts or tree nuts, he couldn’t eat products that “may contain” peanuts or tree nuts, and he couldn’t eat products that were made on shared equipment with peanuts or tree nuts, and then it was up to us to decide how safe we felt, as a family, with even having him eat products that were ever in the same building (same production facility) as a peanut or tree nut.
What that meant was we had to research everything we had in the house and vet ALL products, including things like bread, spaghetti sauce, flour and even spices. It’s been quite a challenge, but we’re getting better at it, and, I’m happy to say that he hasn’t had any severe reactions since that initial scary day.
This also means that we do a lot of our own cooking and baking, since restaurants and take out aren’t always and easy and safe option, baked goods from most grocery stores and such aren’t safe, and even products like enchilada sauce are hard to find with proper labeling.
Fast forward a year, and our daughter was born. Within the first month of her life, she was diagnosed with infant colitis due to allergies/intolerances to dairy (CMPA, cow’s milk protein allergy) and soy passed through my breastmilk. After cutting dairy and soy out of my diet, however, she was still having symptoms, so I cut out the “Top 8” allergens: dairy, soy, wheat, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and fish. But, she was still having symptoms, so I started food journaling and cutting other things out at random, like chocolate, tomatoes, garlic, onions, etc…until I decided to try a Total Elimination Diet (TED), hoping that symptoms would clear, and then I’d try adding foods back in one at a time. None of this really worked completely, but after eating only 5 or 6 foods for a couple of weeks, we finally navigated our way to a solution by working with our pediatrician and a pediatric gastroenterologist.
Some of what did work required a lot of examination of what’s in packaged foods, which foods are more allergenic than others, an exploration of my own somewhat hidden reactions to certain foods, and the benefits of eating a well-balanced, “clean” diet that includes as many gut balancing and gut healing foods as possible.
If you’re struggling with cooking for a variety of food allergies and intolerances in your household, I hope you find this blog helpful! I’d love to hear from you, swap stories and share helpful resources. Welcome!