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Why I Secretly Love Our Food Allergies

Why I Secretly Love Our Food Allergies

I’m not gonna lie. Having (multiple) kids with (different) food allergies is not easy. In fact, many days it is down right hard.

I can’t cook one meal for the whole family. I can’t just order pizza when I’m sick and have no energy to cook. At the moment I can’t even eat at a restaurant. If you have a child with food allergies I’m sure you know the list of “can’t” could go on and on.

But…

I secretly love our food allergies.

Yes, you heard that right. I love them.

There really are some hidden blessings when it comes to food allergies. And although I do hope for full healing for my children some day, there is a part of me (maybe the part that wants to have control!) that hopes it doesn’t happen too soon.

I’m letting you in on my seven little secrets about the blessings of food allergies. After reading them you may want to go get your child tested. An allergy diagnosis can have its perks. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Easily say no to junk food.

Allergies make food choices for you, often for the better. My son is allergic to corn (probably my favorite allergy!). That means NOTHING with high fructose corn syrup or cornstarch. Saying no to junk food is a no brainer there.

Does your child have a wheat allergy? It’s easy to pass on the Goldfish® the other kids are eating.

Of course there are alternatives these days. And there is plenty of junk food that is egg free, dairy free, gluten free, etc. But it is much easier to pass on the junk when you are avoiding allergens.

The bonus of food allergies

Bring your own snacks.

Whether your child is going to preschool or attending a party there is no need to have the ongoing debate in your mind. Do you eat well at home and not worry about the rest? Do you make a big fuss about food wherever you go? When do you say yes and when do you say no?

No need for any of that. Simply send safe snacks for your child. I do try to give my kids something comparable if I know what snack is being served. For example, if the rest of the class is having graham crackers I send a few homemade gluten free graham crackers (they are even soaked…much better for a child with allergies). Other favorites are homemade gluten free Goldfish® and fruit snacks.

GLUTEN-FREE CAN BE CONFUSING BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE HARD!

I’m thrilled to share a FREE gluten-free cheat sheet mini eBook to help get you started! This is perfect if you’ve just been told you need a GF diet, if you have a friend or family member eating GF and you’d like to cook for them, or if you’re just curious what it’s all about!

My kids are so used to bringing food from home it doesn’t even phase them. Plus they love helping me create homemade versions of what their friends are eating. It’s like a secret mission we have to accomplish together. It’s so much fun!

Nobody questions your food choices.

When my oldest started school I was so stressed about snack time. I couldn’t believe some of the things that were considered “healthy” snacks (i.e. pudding cups + graham crackers). At the time we were not yet dealing with allergies. I felt like I didn’t have a valid excuse to make another choice.

Now with allergies it is so much easier. Nobody questions my choices. It is a necessity. And while I realize it shouldn’t matter…it does.

There are the looks. The comments. As if somehow you are trying to act better than other moms by making healthy choices. That is not the least bit true. But moms can be mean.

People are much more understanding of food allergies than they are of personal choices. And for a people pleaser like me that takes some of the stress away.

There is also less of a chance of being perceived as rude. Some people aren’t ok with a simple “no thank you” to what they offer. But saying “he has allergies” is met with more concern and empathy.

The bonus of food allergies

Learn to be creative and try new food.

If it were not for my kids’ food allergies and my own sensitivities I never would have tried half of the food we eat on a regular basis now. Every time I was presented with new restrictions I had to get more creative. I must admit, it’s kind of fun. Sometimes challenging. But fun.

Did you know you can make homemade Oreos® that are gluten, egg, dairy, nut, corn, and soy free? You can! And they taste amazing. So does the inside-out version!

We’ve tried all sorts of new vegetables, grains, seeds, and baked goods. I’ve even learned that I LOVE lard! Since I can’t have butter or coconut oil I spread lard on everything. It is soft, creamy and loaded with Vitamin D.

This creativity also naturally fosters variety. Which everyone could use more of. Especially those with allergies that should be on a rotational diet. More diversity in your diet means a wider array of vitamins and minerals and less of a chance of adding new allergies.

Learn to be inclusive of and sympathetic to others.

I have used food allergies as a teaching tool many times. My daughter is learning from a young age that nobody likes to feel excluded (which is pretty common for kids that are forced to be different in some way…like eating different food). We talk about how it makes her feel if someone thinks her food is strange. She can then feel compassion for others that may be left out for some reason and make sure they are included.

As a mom it has been helpful to me as well. Any time I bring a meal to someone or invite someone to my house I make sure to ask if they have any food restrictions. And I let them know that nothing is too strange or complex for me…I’ve seen it all, and I’m happy to accommodate.

Gateway to explain nourishment and health.

Since having kids with allergies I have so many parents that have asked me about health and nutrition. I’m sure it helps that I am very vocal about our allergies and natural lifestyle. It has opened so many doors for me to share my knowledge and spread the word about what real food and real nourishment is.

Why I secretly love my kids food allergies

But it doesn’t end there. My kids are educating their friends about nutrition as well! I am a proud mama when my daughter comes home from school and tells me about how she shares her homemade fruit snacks or roasted beets with kids at her table. She loves telling her friends how she helps me in the kitchen and what quality food really is.

Be an advocate for allergies.

My final reason for loving food allergies is that I get to be an advocate for others. I share my story on my own blog (Just Take A Bite) in hopes that I can help others. But also to make everyone aware of the need for change in how they feed their children and how we can all be supportive of kids with food allergies.

Although allergies are on the rise, the majority of the population still does not have to deal with them on a daily basis and really does not understand anything about them. I love giving others hope for healing and providing information to help care for those with allergies. And also advice on how to prevent them in the first place!

The bonus of food allergies

The cat’s out of the bag.

Now I’ve let my secrets out! Did I make food allergies sound a little more appealing?

In all seriousness, I don’t wish them on anyone. But I also choose to focus on the positive things that have come from our journey with food allergies. My entire family has learned so much and improved our health tremendously because of them.

About 99% of our food is homemade. We are not enticed by junk food anymore. We enjoy a wide variety of food. And we are sharing our story to help others on a similar journey. Food allergies have not been so bad if you ask me.

Do you or your children struggle with food allergies? What blessings have you seen on your journey?

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

18 thoughts on “Why I Secretly Love Our Food Allergies”

  1. I have been doing food issues for 8 years with four girls. It has been incredibly hard for family holidays. Neither side gets it or supports us. We literally bring an entire meal (which everyone else wants to eat) or we skip the meal and come later. I am very thankful that I do have legitimate excuses. The neat thing for me is that my oldest is now in college and I have a second daughter graduating in May. My girls are always talking about how amazing our own holiday parties are going to be because everyone will be able to eat everything. My future son-in-laws have no idea how healthy they will be eating!

    Thank you for the great post. I have often thought the same things because you can either look at it from the bright side or the dark side. I would rather find the joy.

    Shauna, I can understand your frustration with anaphylaxis foods. We do not have foods that cause that (though many food issues), but my daughter with certain chemicals. The bad news, there is no way to test for chemicals that cause anaphylaxis reactions. We think we know what the culprit was as it has happened twice. Now we are leery about more than just food. My mom uses an over abundant of chemicals for cleaning her house and doing her laundry. My daughter has walked away from there more than once with a puffy face or eyes or throat. I find that scarier than the food situation.

    I have found that it is bad enough not to want to eat someone’s food, but try telling them that you can not come to their house!

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Amy! Chemicals are a tough one for sure! My oldest is quite sensitive to chemicals. We finally got her tested for allergies because she started getting hives every day at school. I hate all of those toxic cleaners. Any way you look at it it’s hard to be different or have to tell people no to something.

  2. Sarah Mueller

    Wow – I *never* thought of it that way, but you are so right! My first 3 kids have no issues but my 4th child has a ridiculous amount of them. But I really don’t have to cringe about him eating a doughnut at church or those awful popsicles at VBS.

    Thanks for a great perspective!

  3. I like how you have accepted the situation and tried to find positives. I do the same! 🙂 I am grateful for what we have. There are many with much worse situations! Kudos to you for having a great attitude!

  4. These are all good points, but I would trade them in a heartbeat for my daughter not to have her dairy allergy, which causes anaphylaxis in her. It’s a major bummer. But, it was great to avoid all the sugary junk food at her school party the other day!

    I do love our alternative recipes, and I am definitely going to try those homemade Oreos!

  5. Thank you for your perspective on food allergies. I have lived most of my life with food allergies, none of which are life threatening only inconvenient and uncomfortable (eczema patches all over). Because of this, it was difficult for me to say “no” to my family on food choices, though I did strive for us to eat healthy a majority of the time. The occasional travelling, going out, church functions–all of which played havoc on me, were just tolerated in order for the rest of the family to participate. But now my daughter is gluten and dairy intolerant. I am so thankful because the choices aren’t just for me. We have to make these choices because her health risks are much higher than just an inconvenience. Since we’ve made a lot of switches, not only is her asthma under control, but I can see where my health is better too. I still have some allergies that she doesn’t deal with, but it is making it easier to say “no” for me now too. And yes, I agree with your point on bringing ones own snack–it is a lot easier to say “allergies” than I don’t agree with your food choices, or even if healthy they are something you can’t eat. We’re still working on finding foods that work for my daughter (just added braces to the mix!), so snacks right now are a tough one. I look forward to looking through what you have as I’m visiting from Kitchen Stewardship. So glad I stopped by.

    1. I’m so sorry you had to go through that, Rhoda. It is hard when parents ignore their child’s pain. I am releasing a book next month all about observing your kids for food reactions and how to deal with them. I bet you’d love it! http://justtakeabite.com/my-books/

      I’m glad that you can make better choices for yourself and your daughter.

  6. Amen! Katie! I am in the same boat and have come to realize I thankful for food allergies, because YES our family eats way healthier. I REALLY wish my kids were allergic to sugar :). That is the hardest for people to respect. It is not so much Moms that are mean and not understanding as it is family that give me a hard time and stress me out! I know you have blogged about that too! Thank you….Carrie

    1. You’d love my daughter’s allergy, Carrie. My one year old can’t tolerate any roots, including beet sugar (white sugar). Of course there are plenty of natural sweeteners. But none of the white stuff.

      Family can be hard. Food stirs up emotions.

    2. My own children do not have food allergies, but when I was a Girl Scout leader there was a girl in the troop who was essentially allergic to sugar–her parents tried a very-low-sugar diet, and her attention problems and poor self-control just dropped away! It was amazing! This made me VERY motivated to make sure she didn’t slip off her diet when we went to camp or events where a snack was provided. When we went camping as a troop, bringing and preparing our own food, we tried to plan meals that didn’t “need” a sugar-free product for her but instead used no-sugar-added peanut butter, juice-sweetened fruit spread, etc., for everyone. This led to a shift in the tastes for other girls–parents were telling me, “She’s ASKING for natural peanut butter and says the other kind tastes TOO SWEET!!” 🙂

      But between that girl and my vegan Scout with severe lactose intolerance, I had a number of frustrating conversations with adults in charge of food who claimed foods were safe when they weren’t because they couldn’t be bothered to check ingredients, acted like I was spoiling my girls with special attention, and/or insisted that “a little candy” would do no harm and she deserved not to be deprived! It was exhausting just to deal with this for an occasional weekend, so I really feel for parents who cope with it every day.

      1. It does make me so sad that other parents feel like they can’t be bothered to respect NEEDS of young girls (not to mention the girls’ parents’ wishes). I’m sure you were a huge blessing as a Scout leader for all the parents of kids who needed special diets, Becca!! 🙂 Katie

  7. I wouldn’t say that I love my son’s food allergies, but they definitely have their benefits, many of which you already mentioned. I would add that they give me a good excuse to either stay with him on playdates, or to have playdates at my house rather than leaving him with people who I’m not sure I can trust.

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