Raising a Sensitive Child

Nourishing Body, Mind and Spirit

Living with food allergies (a day in the life…)

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Today, during breakfast, when Moses was eating an almond (and deciding that he liked the taste of it after all), he commented:

“Hey, I’m not allergic to too many things anymore…
Because I used to not be able to eat almonds, and now I can”.

My heart filled at that moment.

Hanging out in downtown St. John’s

We rejoiced with him and shared in his excitement that he is able to eat so many more different foods.

We gave him high fives and told him that over time, he’ll be able to eat more and more foods. We reminded him which foods he still needs to avoid: wheat (gluten), milk, fish, eggs and some nuts (like walnuts). And told him that very soon, we’ll be baking with a tiny little bit of an egg to see if he will also be able to eat baked goods with eggs.

He went off to do his own thing, and my heart rejoiced.

Moses doesn’t often talk about his food allergies. He just accepts them. Knows that it’s been a part of his life, his whole life until now.

He’s used to us bringing his own food to parties. Eating a different meal and dessert than everyone at extended family dinners and birthday parties.

When well meaning adults accidentally offer him a birthday cake, he is used to saying, “No, I can’t eat that. I have allergies”. He very rarely complains.

Sometimes, he asks why he can’t have a certain food, and we’ll explain to him that it has an ingredient in it that makes him sick. And, if we can figure out a way to make that certain food in an allergy-free way, we tell him that we’ll make it for him on the weekend.

I’ve learned to keep an organic lollipop in my purse at all times because he often gets offered candy from well-intentioned adults (even at his Taekwon-do class, the kids get candy at the end of each class — for several weeks, they weren’t allergy free and we had to take away the candy and offer him the organic lollipop. I’ve since sent an email asking them to re-think their policy of offering candy at the end of class — many children [mine included] don’t react well to sugar, or at least to offer allergy-free choices — happily, they now are).

The latest heartbreak (my own) was when the parents at Moses’ school wanted to throw a surprise party for his Kindergarten teacher, whose last day was on Friday (Moses’ new teacher is returning from maternity leave on Monday). The parents thought it would be a good idea to make a surprise cake for the teacher and wondered if we could make an allergy-free cake for the occasion. We do have an allergy-free cake recipe, but last time I tried to make it, it was a disaster. It calls for four different flours, and we still haven’t figured out a good icing. We didn’t want to experiment with his whole class since we typically find that “allergy-free baking” doesn’t taste the same as “typical desserts”. We offered to make an apple crisp. Our apple crisp recipe is easy and delicious! One of the other parents even offered to make a second double batch so that we could have enough for all of the kids.

Then, we were informed that some of the parents told the organizer that “some of their children don’t like apple crisp” (really, who doesn’t like apple crisp????), so it was decided that they would make a cake, and we could bring a special dessert for Moses (like always).

Oh, how, my heart broke. I thought how nice it would have been  for Moses to be able eat the very same foods as the other kids for one day.

So… we wound up making a special dessert for Moses. DH tried out a new recipe: a GFCF “blueberry buckle” (it’s like a moist coffeecake, but with blueberries) from the Food Allergy Survival Guide, and he sprinkled icing sugar on top to make it fancy. Moses loved it!

Moses’ normal seat in his classroom just happened to be on the very table where they decided to place the going away cake. It was decorated fancy and Moses excitedly pointed out how the cake had a chalkboard, tiny chalk, and a tiny eraser on it. But, never once did he complain that he wouldn’t be able to have any. He happily ate his delicious blueberry cake (while I longingly looked at the chocolate cake).

Anyway, all that to say that  a lot of things go on behind the scenes for families with food allergies. And, how thrilled I am that Moses allergies are healing. And that he is noticing and is happy about it too.

Update:

April 23, 2012 – We found a great gluten-free white cake mix at the Bulk Barn. Now that we’re not concerned with cross-contamination, we can shop at the Bulk Barn!  Moses loved the white cake with allergy-free chocolate chips that DH made for him, to bring to a birthday party. (He was crazy after though — Moses doesn’t do well on sugar).

May 9, 2012 – Moses actually had an allergic reaction to the GF cake mix (even though he tolerated it fine a couple of weeks ago). hmmmmm…. Read more here.

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3 thoughts on “Living with food allergies (a day in the life…)

  1. I completely get it. We do the same thing because of food allergy – bring all our own food to parties and such. There is a baking mix made by Cherrybrook Kitchens – the gluten free brownie / chocolate cake mix I believe. We make cupcakes with it – but you could probably make a whole cake. They also sell a frosting – but it has soy in it and we don’t do soy, so I can’t say if it’s tasty. The mix is tasty though – super chocolatey. Even non-food allergy eaters like them. It’s got a lot of sugar so we try to only use occasionally.
    Also, I know your heart breaks when you watch your child not able to eat the foods that all the other children are literally devouring with joyous rapture. It feels like they’re excluded. But at least you know that what Moses is eating is WAY better for him. I know it’s probably not the best thing, but I did explain to my son – because we talk about food and food allergies a lot – that the cake looks yummy, and tastes yummy – but it is really loaded with lots of yukky ingredients. It’s no consolation, but it is true. Sometimes, he’ll even say to me “Mommy I bet that’s really artificial and not good for you.” Then he’ll move on, run off, and enjoy playing.

  2. Oh Janice…I can totally relate. Even though Adam doesn’t appear to have extreme food allergies, at one point he was on a dairy-free/gluten-free diet. I remember those days; always having to be one step ahead in the planning process and making sure I packed Adam-friendly food wherever we went. People really have no idea how much work this is. Now, even though Adam is just on a “milk restriction,” having a child with autism always requires planning ahead. Does Adam have his fidget toys? Is the place safe, secure and contained? Is the environment a sensory nightmare? etc. etc. Always one step ahead. It’s EXHAUSTING and I agree that it’s usually our children that have to miss out as it appears that the majority always rules.

    I’ve come to appreciate those special people who go out of their way to accomodate Adam and his needs. It may seem like a small gesture, but for one day, moms like us get a break.

    Keep up the good fight Janice. I pray that one day, Moses will get to have his gluten-ridden cake…and eat it too. 🙂

  3. Hi Denise and Hanna:

    Thank you to you both for sharing your own stories. It helps to know that we’re not alone in this.

    Denise, thanks for the cake mix ideas. I checked to see if there was any GFCF cake mixes at our local grocery store, but couldn’t find any. Good to know about this brand for the future… (although Moses doesn’t like chocolate, if you can believe it!). And, you’re right, there is some consolation in knowing that Moses is generally eating very good food.

    Hanna, it can be very exhausting. And, yes, I very much appreciate those special people who go out of their way to accommodate our special needs… Maybe I’ll write a blog post about that!! And, yes, I do hope that one day Moses gets to have his gluten-ridden cake and eat it too!!

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