Living with Food Allergies and Sensitivities

It had  been a long day. 

A much longer day than I had expected.

Though I prepared snacks that would have lasted our kids a few hours, our appointment took nearly three times as long as we’d thought.  When it was finally over, as we began our way home, we stopped at a fast food restaurant that I thought might be okay to eat at.

As our three girls and I approached the order counter, there was a big sign that said:

“Our products may contain peanut allergen.”

I looked at our three daughters each one at a time.  All of them have a nut allergy, with one being extremely allergic-I made the decision to leave – eating would have to wait until we arrived home and I would have to cook.  I was tired of cooking.  I needed a break – but at what cost?

______________________________________________________

Twenty years ago, if someone would have told me a person could be allergic to peanut butter, I would have thought they were crazy.  Flour? Carrots? Oats? Kiwi?  Peaches? Apples?

Yeah real crazy.

However when our oldest two daughters were eating a snack one day, I sat observing them.  They were eating apple slices with gold fish. A good snack right?  But I noticed something in our oldest daughter who was around 4 years old at the time, that she turned into the energizer bunny and could not stop moving.   I wandered what was happening to her.  Was she just excited about eating gold fish?

Over the next few weeks I tried some experiments on my own.

Apple and peanut butter – no problem.

Cheese and goldfish – problem.

Orange and oatmeal cookie – no problem.

Cheese  and saltine crackers – no problem.

Carrots sticks and salad dressing, gold fish – problem.

Goldfish – problem.

Finally I stopped buying goldfish and the problem stopped.

I believe she had an allergy to the dyes in the goldfish because as I started reading labels, anything that had that dye, she had similar problems. 

That was the beginning of our journey in food allergies and sensitivities.  As I started to read more labels, I noticed that many foods not only weren’t kosher (they contained pork, shell fish and or other unclean ingredients) but that they were full of many strange ingredients.  Eventually I read and heard that cow milk was bad for our bodies, so I switched to almond milk.  This is one of my biggest regrets…I will talk more about that further down.

During this same time we had our third daughter and after weaning her to nut milk she seemed to develop a rash.  We couldn’t  figure out why and it seemed like it wasn’t too bad however it  was always present on her stomach and legs.  Eventually as she learned to talk she would say “Mommy, legs hurt.”  I’d rub them with some creams, which seemed to help for the moment but nothing lasted very long.  Doctors suggested that she might have eczema, but they weren’t too sure.

Between the time of the birth of our two sons, I noticed some changes in myself.  Regular flour started to burn my hands and I would have these horrible sneezing attacks when I cooked with it.   Whenever I ate bread, I felt like there was a huge rock in my stomach.  Eventually I gave up eating bread and I wore a mask when I cooked with wheat.  Our second born daughter (who seemed to be born with a runny nose and was constantly sneezing) could not even come in the kitchen when I was mixing because her sneezing attacks were even worse!!!

Then one day, when she was eating some raw carrots for snack, she said to me “Mommy the carrots and raw almonds are burning my mouth.  They have been for a while.”

I told her to stop because she might have an allergy to them.  She stopped but I was still serving nut milk (I didn’t connect the two yet).   Eventually I found out about raw milk, particularly A2 Milk (which is the original cow  without the mutation).  We made the switch and…

Eczema gone.

Runny nose nearly gone.

I was still using white flour and wheat flour in baking until about few years ago, when our second born daughter ended up in the hospital for asthma.  We did not know she had asthma.  While in the ER, a respiratory therapist, said to me as he watched her “Have you had her checked for allergies because these things that she is doing are more than likely the cause of allergies?”

A few weeks later, her allergies  were confirmed: nearly every tree, grass, all nuts, wheat, corn, oats, raw carrots, some apples, and animals with fur.

I felt as if someone had sucked the breathe out of me-what were we going to do?  I could go without eating wheat (which is a bit hard as I love to bake) but what about her, what was she going to eat?  Corn was one of her favorite foods?  She loved nuts and apples?

As a family, we immediately made the switch to go Gluten-Free.  I still cooked with corn and oats for about another year (since they were lower on her allergic reaction chart) but those two things were removed from her diet a few months later.

One thing I noticed immediately, was that I could use the GF flours and I had no sneezing attacks!  What a relief! Well sort of…gluten free flours do not cook like wheat flour so there was a big learning curve.  I even attempted coconut flour with mixed results but I primarily cooked with sorghum, flax, and rice flours.

In our discovery regarding our second born daughters’ food allergies, we learned that some of our kids are allergic to nuts, raw carrots, kiwi, tapioca flour (which is in many gluten free blends) and some diary products.  For example our daughter with eczema, cannot eat many gluten free foods/mixes because of the dairy in them.  Recently I received a box of Bob Mill’s GF Brownie mix for free, well a day after the brownies where made, our third born daughter had huge patches of raised, itchy red spots on her stomach and legs.  She complained of feeling hot and was itching. 

So…living with food allergies and sensitivities that our family has is a big challenge.  We can all tolerate Einkorn flour but if our second born daughter or myself eats too much of it our stomachs will begin to hurt.

Over the years, we have learned to read labels on everything-hair products, toothpaste, laundry detergents-everything we buy is read to see if it contains anything that one or more of us might have a problem with.  Sometimes we miss the ingredient then a problem occurs and sometimes we recognize new ones.

Remember when I told you about having a long day and not being about to eat out because of the peanut allergy?  Well, on our way home, we stopped at the grocery store and picked up things to make nachos (Kettle potato chips for some and also some corn chips for the ones that tolerate it) and…some gluten free cookies.

Well the name brand gluten free cookies caused big problems in three of our kids!!!

Even the simplest of foods can cause us problems, so that means that we have to prepare all our meals-no eating out at all.  I often (with the exception of Sabbath) spend 70-95% of my day in the kitchen.  Sometimes I want to give up!  I love to cook but sometimes  it is a chore rather than a passion.

One day though, while our daughter with eczema was having a hard night in pain, YAHUAH impressed it upon my heart that He gave me the passion for cooking not for my own pleasure, but for my family.  So now when I feel like I am most frustrated and tired, I find strength in His Word, knowing that He is with me through this time and I praise Him for the hands I have and the provision He gives us to eat what is good for us.

As much as possible I plan to share what things I have learned, recipes, and so forth of what has helped us.  In addition, we are all eating low carb and some are keto!!! 

Advertisements