Monday, March 1, 2010

Food Allergies -- My approach

Our daughter has several food allergies.  Talk about a challenge. She is allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.  But she can have milk and egg in baked goods.  In fact we have found out recently that she can have milk in cooked meals, as well.  But give her cold milk and there's a rash of hives on her face.  She's not allergic to all nuts but we have found that nuts are all processed together.  So, we avoid all.

Having to think "way" outside the box (at least for me) has given me the opportunity to explore so many new options for food.  Not just for her but for my husband and myself as well.  It has been very time consuming to research and try allergen-free foods.  It's nerve racking to give her something new and hope she at the minimum takes a bit, especially when it takes a half hour to make it.  I'm grateful to have been a stay-at-home mom during this time for my daughter.

Here's been my approach to figure out what to feed her.

Cooking from Scratch:  I make many, many more meals from scratch.  I hardly use pre-packaged because allergens sneak in.  I've been forced to teach myself how to cook and try new techniques.  And I'm so glad I've learned this.  When I met my husband five years ago, I had about 10 meals I could make.  At last count it was more than 80 and that doesn't count the many baked goods (dairy-free and not). I can pretty much tackle any recipe.
Trying new products: Finding new products that don't contain milk or nuts is really hard.  And they tend to be expensive.  Some brands I really like are Enjoy Life, Tofutti, Silk, Rice Dream, So Delicious.
Trying new ingredients:  Using ingredients such as rice milk, soy milk, nutritional yeast flakes, dairy-free margarine all include a little learning curve.  But seeing my daughter eat nutritious food is worth it.
Reading blogs: So many great blogs our there share tips on dealing with food allergies.  I learn something new all the time.
Writing a blog:  Writing my own blog, Life with a Dairy-Free Toddler, motivates me to try new things and also helps others with similar problems.
Reading message boards: Real people write on message boards and give really great suggestions. I read message boards on BabyCenter and Cafe Mom.  You have sign up for both.
Reading cookbooks:  Cookbooks tend to be a little more precise that message boards or blogs.  I love flipping through the pages and watching my jaw drop as I read something so easy.  Most recently read-- Go Dairy Free by Alisa Marie Fleming.
Keeping an open mind:  So she can't have milk or nuts, so what?  I can figure anything out, right?
Feeling happy: When I gave our daughter her first bites of chocolate chips or ice cream, I was so happy to find products she can safely eat.

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