In my last post I alluded to the fact that my family has some food allergies. I get questions or comments on an almost daily basis about this fact so I decided I’d break it all down here. Honey, Lovey, Kitten and I all have different food allergies. We have not all been formally diagnosed with these allergies, but have learned through diet how our body reacts to these foods and so we stay away from them. We have all been tested for food allergies, but results are inconclusive, except in my case. My skin testing was off the charts for most things (including the long list of environmental allergies I have) to the point that upon seeing my arm after the intradermal testing both the doctor and nurse let out an audible gasp.
At least one member of my family is allergic/sensitive to:
- All nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, cayenne)
- Corn and sunflowers are question marks for Lovey right now, so we limit both
- Lobster, shrimp and I haven’t been friendly to each other lately, so I’ve been steering clear
While I don’t go around wearing a shirt that says “I’m allergic to everything” this laundry lists elicits some common questions/comments:
How did you find out you had all these allergies? This is a very long story but the short answer is I was diagnosed with a gluten allergy by a naturopath in March 2009. All my other food allergies were diagnosed by an allergist in January 2012. My husband and first daughter eliminated gluten when I did and had vast improvements to their health. My husband eliminated dairy from his diet in the fall of 2012 also with major health improvements. Our youngest daughter gets a rash whenever she eats cooked eggs (baked seem to be fine) so we don’t feed her eggs, even though she tested negative for an allergy. Thankfully none of our allergies are life threatening, but they do make us feel pretty crummy.
What do you/can you eat? Where do you shop? There really are so many foods out there that DON’T contain these allergens. I will admit that meal planning is difficult and convenience eating is a thing of the past. We don’t do drive thrus, or Friday night pizza. This is the worst part about food allergies. I can’t go over to someone’s house for a meal, or out to eat, without careful planning. At home we eat a very unprocessed, “clean” diet. We buy lots of fresh produce and eat mostly vegetarian during the week, although we also eat fish, chicken, pork, and occasionally beef. Our main grain sources are quinoa and rice. Our girls love dairy and eat lots of grilled cheese. Kitten will eat most things we put in front of her, except most veggies. Lovey is an extremely picky eater, but loves fruits and veggies. She recently has even allowed the peanut butter and jelly sides of her sandwich to touch! Her teachers and the parents of her classmates know about her allergy so that makes it easier. We have a freezer full of cupcakes and pizza for parties.
We shop mostly at Stop and Shop and Whole Foods Market. We try to limit trips to WFM because they can get expensive. Our local Stop and Shop has begun carrying many of the GF products that we buy, thankfully. I buy almost all our GF baking products at Ocean State Job Lot. It’s the cheapest price, by far!
Be honest, what do you miss most? I really don’t miss gluten. I miss the convenience of it. Being too tired to cook in our house means you’re having salad. Boring. I do admit to missing crusty, flaky bread though. Of all the other allergens, I miss tomatoes the most. Fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, sun dried. It’s hard to cook for a family without tomatoes.
I could never do that! Do you ever cheat? If you had been feeling sick your whole life with strange, unexplained symptoms with no reasonable explanation and someone told you that all you had to do to feel better was stop eating a few things, you would do it. Imagine if tomorrow you found out you (or your child) were diabetic and had to significantly change your (their) eating habits, you’d do it, right? Exactly. Would you cheat? You’d want to sometimes, but you wouldn’t, because you’d feel like crap.
My friend/sister/son just found out they have a gluten allergy, can you share some resources? Over the years I have learned that the food allergy community is extremely supportive. I know many people who have food allergies, or have children with food allergies, so we try to share information as much as possible. Here are some of my favorite resources:
- CT Center for Health, Middletown and West Hartford (my naturopath’s office)
- Dr. Kevin McGrath, Wethersfield (my allergist)
- The Trouble that Jack Had, by Jane and Diane Pintavalle (my favorite book to explain gluten allergies to kids, Lovey shared it with her class, it was written by one of Honey’s co-workers)
- The Allergen Free Baker’s Handbook, by Cybele Pasqual (my baking bible)
- Gluten Free Easily and Gluten Free Goddess (my favorite GF blogs)
- Burton’s, South Windsor (my favorite allergen safe restaurant)
I could talk about my life with food allergies forever, but I’ll spare you. Please feel free to comment if you have questions, I’m happy to help.