Food Allergies are just a part of how you were created. Embrace it, live it gracefully, and serve others along the way.
I am bringing the Life with Food Allergies series to a close today with a few wrap-up topics that readers requested. If you would like any of the topics expanded, please do not hesitate to ask.
Allergy to Uncommon Foods
It can happen that you are one of the few food allergy sufferers who is allergic to uncommon foods. We all know the top 8 and the avoidance of them is, unfortunately, becoming much more common. What do you eat when you’re allergic to food not among the top 8 and are found in many foods, like garlic, onion, pepper, mustard, just to name a few? Strangely enough, the number of people developing allergies to these less common foods is becoming more common, particularly in America. (Oh, the theories we could discuss on this!) My husband has some uncommon allergies, but they are pretty easy to avoid: mango, turkey, walnut. The hardest of his “uncommon” allergies (although I don’t think it’s all that uncommon) is corn. Corn is in everything! It’s not good for you though, in my opinion, and I’m happy to avoid it. I believe it is the route to so many of our health problems (that’s a post for another day). Anyway, back to the problem here. What do you when you have an uncommon allergy to common foods? Instead of reinventing the wheel and making this post even longer, I will refer you back to an earlier post: A Growing Allergy List. There are tips in this post about how to go about finding food to eat, put most simply — Real Food.
Finding Allergy Support Groups
Since food allergies are becoming more common in the general public, awareness of them is growing too. There are a lot more support groups out there these days as a result. I really like the non-profit organizations Kids with Food Allergies and FAAN. There are also a ton of food allergy bloggers these days that offer advice and recipes. A great place to find these blogs is to look through the recipes linked up at Allergy-Free Wednesdays. Click on a few recipes, then look at the blogger’s other posts to see if it’s a place that will be helpful to you on your food allergy journey. Personally, I want to be one of these people. If I am not serving your food allergy needs, please let me know how I can do that better. You can also search for local food allergy support groups in your community. Finally, make your own support group among the family and friends in your circle. You be the educator and bring them along side you on your journey. They may not have food allergies, but they can still be a great support group.
Exploring Alternative Medical Treatment
I’ve been vocal on here about the alternative methods for allergy tests. Basically, I think there are problems with them and they should be approached with caution. But what about treatment? I’m always game for trying non-traditional approaches to medical treatment as long as they are within reason. I don’t recommend flying to sub-Sahara Africa to pick the bloom off a cactus to steep in tea and be miraculously cured. I do, however, support some approaches that homeopathic doctors are trying. One caution is that you should never assume these alternative approaches worked and then eat a lot of a food that was previously anaphylactic. Be wise! Personally, my son takes probiotics (I don’t know if it helps his food allergies, but they are so good for you.). He is currently undergoing desensitization therapy with his dairy allergy by eating a little baked-in dairy everyday. Finally, there are some theories that suggest the growth in dairy allergies is due to the pasteurization process and the altering of the milk protein. I would like to do a little testing of raw milk on my son’s skin to see if he reacts with hives. These are all very minimal “alternative” treatments that could barely be considered alternative. Whatever you decide to do, make sure to research it completely and be wise about your choices.
Bring the Whole Family to the Dinner Table
If one person in your family has a list of food allergies, do you make the entire family’s meals conform to their allergy restrictions? In our home, the answer is “both”. When we sit down to eat as a family at dinner, we all eat the same thing. There may be a slight variation where cheese is sprinkled on top or our recent gluten-free pizza night, but in general, we all eat the same thing. Variations come at lunch time or breakfast when everyone generally eats something different. It isn’t completely cut and dry, but it works well for us. So, what do I recommend? I am against being a short-order cook. I think children should eat the same thing as parents (in most cases), including those hated vegetables, no matter if you have food allergies or not. I do not like separate kid-only meals at family dinner time. It promotes bad eating habits, in my opinion.
Using Allergy Medication (handling, carrying, updating)
I take my son’s emergency response medication everywhere we go (like I used to take a diaper bag). In fact, if I forget it, I go into panic mode. I carry 2 EpiPens, Benadryl, and Inhaler in a small insulated bag (like a lunchbag) with his name and allergies listed on the outside of the bag. There are no special rules for handling the medication, except the EpiPen. Make sure you read the instructions for use of an EpiPen. I also recommend keeping an EpiPen Trainer in your bag just in case you are not with your child when it needs to be used. Updating your allergy medication is of upmost importance, but to be honest, I hate this task. EpiPens and inhalers are not cheap, but I do not want to be in an emergency situation with a less than effective EpiPen. Be sure to check the expiration dates of your medication often and get them refilled.
This is a heavy hitter and I won’t do it justice by writing a single paragraph on it, but I’ll just give a short run-down. I come from the pragmatic college of “it is what it is” and “just deal with it”. That approach doesn’t always work very well when dealing with a hurting child. In our home, we believe that God created our son to have food allergies for a reason or multiple reasons (serving each of you here at The Willing Cook is one of those reasons, I believe). We teach him that sometimes life doesn’t always happen the way we want it to, but God’s purposes are greater than our own. We must trust in his sovereign will and grace toward us. For this reason, we must resist the temptation to resent the disease or those trying to help you get through them. Practical ways to resist this temptation is to always have a yummy alternative to non-allergy foods. Continually love on and support your child, and embrace all our “imperfections” that we cannot control. If you aren’t in agreement with a God-centered perspective on this, try to teach your child that we just cannot control some things, but we try to live the best we can with what we have.
I know that today’s post is a hodge-podge of so many different issues that are very important in a life with food allergies. If you would like for me to elaborate on any of them, please let me know. And who knows, maybe I will get to that one day. It’s time to close the Life with Food Allergies series, though. I trust that it has been helpful to you as you travel along this road of life. Thank you for your comments and perspective throughout the series. Please share this series with others who may be suffering under the pain and pressure of food allergies. I’m very excited for the next series I will be doing about balancing food allergies and life.