When your Kids are Diagnosed With Allergies
When you or your child is diagnosed with food allergies, it is incredibly emotional. On one hand you are relieved- thankful that there is an explanation for the health problems, and one that is relatively easy to fix. On the other hand you have fear, grief and anger. Will everyone roll their eyes at you? Will your child be ostracized? Will you never be invited to a dinner party again? Will your children never be able to have a cupcake or pizza or ice cream again like a “normal” kid. I totally get it, I have been through all of this myself and on both sides.
It is important to realize that an allergy diagnosis does not mean that your family’s life is over! It is just going to be different, and I think you will find that it’s in a good way. Despite an extensive list of allergies in my house between myself and the children (over 40 combined allergies), we are still eating beautiful, nutritious and delicious meals every day. I found that the way we eat post diagnosis is really how I fantasized that we would eat in an ideal world long before we had to. What I mean by that is that we eat really well! We are sitting down to healthy, fresh, balanced meals with plenty of seasonal produce and simply prepared proteins and nourishing grains with much less processed or packaged foods in our diet. Basically the types of meals I wish in my “mom fantasies” that had always been the norm. Far more than ever before I am paying attention to what goes into my body and how it makes myself and my kids feel. On top of that, we are eating for fun too! Birthday cupcakes, pizza and Thanksgiving pie are also a normal part of life, and nothing I wanted my children to miss out on, so we have worked those modified recipes into our lives and kitchen as well.
When you manage to push aside the fears, and start looking at the basics of how treating food allergies is going to work, it’s a pretty clear path to success. The heart of the change is about getting in the kitchen and cooking- because that is the only real way of knowing that you are making safe food for yourself or for your kids. It will be an adventure in experimenting with new ingredients and new techniques, so you must go in with an open mind! When you start looking, you will find that there are recipes for just about everything you could want and lots of things that you didn’t realize were options. Because food sensitivities and allergies have become so much more prevalent there are more and more cookbooks and blogs that are totally focused on very specific types of diets. While your doctor and naturopath can help you determine the offending foods, they can’t help you micro-manage your life. That’s where these new types of resources can be helpful for you.
When it all feels tough remember to keep your eye on the Prize. Your health or your children’s health is the most important thing, so try to keep it at the forefront of your thoughts when things get difficult. You will probably see health improvements almost immediately which can serve as a reminder of why you are making these changes. It truly is incredible that we can alleviate health problems with nothing but a change of diet! By keeping the focus off of what you can’t have, and getting inspired by all that you can, it keeps everything positive, which is a really important part of the process. Delicious food doesn’t hurt either.
You should also try to keep in mind that this lifestyle is a work in process. Every day there is new information, new recipes, new ideas about how to manage a life missing a few ingredients. But I try to see the bigger picture- by replacing some basics from my old diet my whole family has transformed our health, and gained tremendous clarity and perspective. My children have learned patience and compassion as well as how to advocate for their own health, and honestly I have too. It may be hard to fathom, but I am grateful for the lessons that food allergies have provided us, and happy to be eating a more nutritious, beneficial diet that is truly pure delicious.
(You can find more information on cooking with your kids, tracking and rewarding their progress, school lunch prep and more in Pure Delicious.)