Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tips on dealing with a food allergy in kids

A few weeks ago my middle son, Chris, suffered a pretty severe allergic reaction to something that he consumed.
You can click here to read more about that.  Let me just say that it was scary as hell!

So, this is what I have learned in the past 19 days -


...like, seriously.

It's absolutely amazing how our bodies react when we consume food.  What this has done was really opened my eyes to the fact that we need to consume more whole foods.  As a family, we are pretty good at this. We adhere to an 80/20 rule, where the vast majority of our foods are whole foods, not chemicals or processed foods.  That doesn't mean that we don't consume those types of foods; we just limit them.

But, maybe we need to limit them more...

Here is where we are at - we have eliminated all gluten, dairy and soy from Chris's diet.  Holy crap!, soy is in EVERYTHING!!  *sigh*

I'll share what Chris will be eating today, as an example of different options.  Please keep in mind that my child does not have a nut allergy.

Breakfast - 1/4 cup of dry oatmeal with 1/2 a banana.  The oatmeal is cooked with water, not milk.
                  8 oz of almond milk
                  1 egg scrambled, salt & pepper, made with coconut oil
Lunch - (this is packed for school)
                  2 celery sticks, cut
                  bottled water
                  apple
                  turkey sandwich made using Udi's white sandwich bread (this is gluten, soy & dairy free)
Snack -      2 celery sticks with natural peanut butter and raisins
Dinner -     Spaghetti - noodles will be made with a spaghetti squash, sauce will be made using garden                             tomatoes, basil, garlic cloves, onion, and meatball will be made with ground beef and egg (no  
                  bread crumbs).

Really, it's not that bad.  We've switched him from soy milk to almond milk, have had to use Udi's bread for portable sandwiches for school and all I really have to do when planning out our meals (I do it for 2 weeks at a time) is to check to see if Chris needs an alternative to what we are planning on eating.

It has also meant that he cannot have most condiments.

Here are my top 10 tips for dealing with a new found food allergy -
1) Eliminate all suggested foods immediately.  Talk to your child about what will happen to them if they consume any of the foods that you are eliminating.
2) Check ALL food labels prior to consumption.
3) Stick with whole foods like fresh fruits, veggies and meats until you get a game plan in place.
4) Limit processed *free* foods.  (an example of this would be - we use Udi's bread to make his sandwich, we have not purchased any other gluten, dairy or soy free processed foods)
5) Go on a filed trip to your local grocery store, with your camera phone in hand.  Snap photos of items, ingredient lists and prices.**
6) Keep benadryl with you at all times.  Or, if you have been prescribed an epi-pen, keep that.
7) Water is key during the first 48 hours after an attack, drink lots and lots of water.
8) If you're told to eliminate 'dairy' don't just assume that lactose free milk is fine, the allergy may be to casein, whey or lactose - all are found in cow milk.
9) Talk to your doctor about scheduling a blood draw allergy test to pin point exactly what your child is allergic to.
10) You're not alone.  There are many sites on-line with recipe suggestions and that can answer your questions.

There are people out there that will help you, like say, if you find yourself at Whole Foods trying to find a suitable birthday cupcake substitute and you've been reduced to tears because soy is in everything!  I've found that my local grocery store carries many of the same foods as Whole Foods, for less.  Do your research, don't assume that you have to go to a "health food store" in order to get what you need.

**Aldi, which is our main grocery store, does have many gluten free and dairy free options now, which is great!  Unfortunately, they contain soy.  But, given that we don't consume much processed foods, finding a suitable substitute has not been too time consuming or too much of a strain on our food budget.

This whole experience has made us keenly aware how important what we choose to put into our body for it to use as fuel in order to nourish and sustain really is.  We are choosing to pause longer and really look and what we are putting into our mouths, and what it's purpose really is.  It's not about filling up.  It's about nourishing and sustaining.  

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