Living “free” – our story with food allergies

If you’d have asked me before I had kids if there were things that I didn’t think I would ever be able to deal with, having a child with food allergies would have been high on my list. My husband and I LOVE food. We love to travel and often recall our favorite places by the amazing food we found. Our favorite relaxing outing was a trip to whole foods to discover a new cheese and wine pairing. Our evenings at home evolve around cooking together and mastering new recipes. Neither of us have any food allergies and we would never have imagined having to change the way we eat and think about food.

About 4 months after our first son was born it became apparent that he was having issues with some of the foods I was eating. I tried going off of all dairy as I’d heard many babies are sensitive to cow’s milk protein. I stopped drinking milk and eating cheese, but quickly learned that milk is in a LOT of things….things you’d never even think of. Not only was I tired and sleep deprived from having a newborn (who was struggling with eating and health issues), but I quickly became overwhelmed with things I was not allowed to eat and soon found myself in tears in the middle of the deli on our next outing to Whole Foods. It wasn’t pretty – I literally had a break down right in front of all the Friday night shoppers.

It was too hard. I couldn’t do it. I could even think about what to eat, all I could think about is what I couldn’t have and was convinced that we’d soon die of starvation. All that to say we quickly learned that my son was not just allergic to milk, but to ALL of the top allergens (dairy, wheat, egg, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, etc….) We ended up having to put him on an elemental formula to gain weight. A few months later he started eating solid foods and our lives were forever changed. We had to accommodate these allergies and we bought NOTHING without reading labels. It was horrific to discover some of the things that are in the food we were eating with no thought. I was forced to learn how to cook with the few ingredients that he COULD have in order for him to have balanced meals with things he could eat.

When my 2nd son was born the doctors advised that I avoid any dairy or peanut given the fact that our other son’s allergies are so severe. I was not super excited about this after the trauma of my first attempt, but this time around I felt much more confident. I knew there were things out there that I could eat, and if my son could go without ANY of the allergens, I could surely go without two of them with no complaining. We have since learned to make all of our family dinners free of all major allergens. We will occasionally eat a piece of bread and eggs (although my son has an anaphylactic allergy to them so we have to be super careful to not cross-contaminate), but these items are a rare addition, not an every day occurrence.

I have tried a LOT of products, recipes and experimented with things over the past 3 years.  I will try and document some of these recipes and tips in hopes to pass along the info, and safe someone else the time and energy! I hope to give someone else out there in this situation some hope that you CAN do it!! You can eat better than you EVER have and don’t have to live thinking that you are missing out. Good luck and please message me with any questions!

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