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Basics of Dealing with Food Allergies

August 15, 2012

I recently had a comment from a mother who is new to food allergies, who wanted some basic tips. I made a comment with a few things, but wanted to expand on what I said. So, if I could give myself some advice two years ago when we first started on this journey, here’s what I would say.

Learn to cook – I find that its easier (and cheaper) to make most meals from scratch or near scratch than to find allergy-friendly convenience foods or restaurants. There are lots of naturally allergy-friendly foods, such as meat, vegetables, rice, and potatoes. Once these basics are mastered, the next step is to learn how to reinvent recipes so they would be allergy-friendly. This is why my First-try Friday posts have been such a help to me as I experiment in the kitchen. Living Without has a handy substitution guide for dairy, eggs, and gluten. The only thing I would add to that is cornstarch is a great thickener instead of flour.

Plan things in advance – Joseph has only gotten upset at other people eating food he can’t eat if he doesn’t have something he likes on hand. So I try to make sure I always have snacks in the bag that he can eat. Also, I’ve found that if I plan out a week of dinners in advance, even if I don’t stick to it, it’s less stressful than looking in the pantry for inspiration at 5:00 when often all I can see are the things Joseph can’t eat.

Count your blessings – it is very easy to get stressed over everything. I found it extremely helpful to take a step back and remember that even with these health challenges, Joseph can still run and talk, learn and play.

Don’t buy everything at once – Allergy-friendly food is expensive, and you may not like what you get. So I try to only do a little at a time to see how Joseph likes it before stocking up. Also, this helps us from getting overwhelmed with new things. It was nice that I was able to do this as we transitioned Joseph onto solid food.

Find others going through the same thing – there’s several blogs of people dealing with allergies and creating their own recipes. The blog carnivals I participate in link to hundreds of recipes every week that are allergy-friendly in some way. It’s been nice to glean tips from these blogs, even if I’m not the best at commenting on them.

Are there any other tips you would add?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. michele permalink
    February 23, 2014 12:06 pm

    your suggestions are great, especially for a non-allergic family member or friend of an allergy-prone person — they just don’t get the need for vigilence…. I would add the warning that one immune issue increases the likelihood for others — the worse my celiac became, the worse my allergies became. And with that, remember just that as a child will hopefully outgrow some or all food allergies, he or she may develop more at any age, especially to foods eaten for years (contrary to the myth of allergies to new foods — there is a greater danger of building an allergy to “overused” foods!) I developed life-threatening allergies to mangoes and persimmons, 2 foods I never ate as a child, but ate frequently as an adult — until each almost killed me…. plus an allergy to capsacin whose severity depends on the preparation but makes my lifelong love of spicy foods a sad memory…My third warning: foods are genetically related in unexpected ways — and we often miscategorize foods, i.e. a peanut is a legume, not a nut, other so-called nuts are really fruits, etc. If you can find a really good allergist who specializes in foods, be sure to discuss the genetic tree of your allergen…

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