For the Newly Diagnosed

Dear Reader,

As a family, we are 11+ years into our journey with food allergies.  I still get teary when I think about how difficult it all was in the first year after our son's diagnosis.  My pregnancy with Aidan had been difficult and required multiple hospitalizations.  Aidan arrived early by induction because I was toxemic and my kidneys had started to fail.  We were so excited when he arrived healthy-but little, and my body recovered from the toxemia.

Aidan snuggled and sleepy on my husband's chest.  This is one of my favorite photos. 

When our food allergy journey began in earnest, I was pregnant with our second child, battling hyperemesis, and Aidan was not quite a year old - unable to verbalize to me what his little body was going through.  (I am struggling to type through the tears that are welling up now...) 

Once I stopped breastfeeding and we switched to formula, we noticed little rashes, acid reflux, eczema flare ups, and the pediatrician's office just gave us generalized, "it could be this or that..." sort of answers.  NO ONE had ever mentioned the possibility of food allergies until my mom encouraged me to request a RAST test after Aidan almost stopped breathing.  That's right, we almost lost our little boy, and the pediatrician's office still didn't think to investigate the possibility of food allergies.  They assumed it was a reaction to a medication, they dismissed his history of rashes and acid reflux and they were content to send us on our way.  Thank God for my mom, who used to work as a Medical Technician in a hospital, and thank God for me listening to her! 

Aidan, just under a year old.  His skin is covered with severe matter how much we moisturized, his skin felt like leather.  (I haven't looked at this picture in a long time, it's difficult to see, and to remember how much pain he was in.)

The year that followed was trying, and quite honestly, a blur, of whole foods stores, bland or weird foods, and figuring out that fussy rice pasta!  We were a peanut/tree nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, soy-free household.  And I had a TINY kitchen! 

We learned to make hash browns, roast chicken, roast lamb, roast-anything-I-could-fit-in-the-oven, LOTS of rice, and we figured out to heavily salt the water when we made rice pasta!  (*In order to reheat it, place it in a glass bowl, cover the pasta with water, and microwave until it softens back up!)  I learned a lot about cooking techniques and I experimented with Xantham gum and odd ingredients.

Here's what I want you to know in this moment:

  • It's OK to cry, this is hard.
  • You are not alone.
  • Everyone reacts differently to the lifestyle changes that come with a food allergy diagnosis.  You may not have the same reaction as your spouse or other loved ones.  Talk it out and really listen to each other.
  • You can do this even if you don't know how to cook, because it's never too late to learn!
  • There's a lot of information out there and it can get overwhelming. Don't try to absorb it all at once.
  • You don't need to go all organic, all whole foods, all at once. Take this slowly.
  • Don't expect something to taste like something else - dairy free sour cream doesn't taste like dairy sour cream, but it can still be good!
  • Tell your family they will be eating the same few "safe" dishes for a while, and give yourself time to learn and adjust.
  • Roast something big and let it feed your family for a few days (turkey, lamb, beef, chicken...whatever fits your allergy profile and your budget)

I've posted several cooking tutorials on YouTube to get you started with some basic recipes, and there are more on the way!

Pancakes and homemade syrup
Broccolini Basil Spaghetti
Roast Chicken and veggies
Chicken leftovers (ideas for lunches)

I've written a cookbook with recipes for desserts and baked goods.  These are often the most difficult challenges for families just beginning their lives with food allergies.  The book is called "Love Letters from My Kitchen" and it's available on Amazon.  All of the recipes are free from peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and dairy. It is a wonderful resource for you and for your extended family members, for friends, and for teachers; for anyone in your life who wants to be able to cook for your loved one with food allergies. 

I really want to help those who are new to this world of food allergies.  And I promise, you will get to a "new normal" eventually.

From "The Allergy Safe Kitchen", I wish you "Good Cooking and Safe Eating"!
-Beth Anne


1 comment:

  1. Beth, I feel for you, so many people share the experience of not having the food allergy connection made until later on! Your tips are great as well, I think trying bit to absorb everything at once is certainly a sanity saving measure. Thank you for sharing this!