When we first found out our youngest had numerous food allergies, we were initially overwhelmed. We found out quite early, pretty much as soon as she started eating solid foods. it started with a strange redness around the mouth and hives on her body, after feeding her baby food that had peas in it. Then we tried a cracker, and the same thing happened. Same with a banana. At that point we took her for an allergy test, and came back with a long list of things she was allergic to.
We made a decision pretty early on that we would try as much as possible to be inclusive rather than exclusive when it comes to food. With an inclusive approach, it means that meals, whenever possible, are completely safe for her to eat. The only exception is breakfast, where we all have our own individual things. And if there is something that she cannot eat, say when we are at a party or out for dinner, we make sure that we bring something that she can have so that she doesn’t feel left out.
Oh, you want to know what she’s allergic to?
- tree nuts
This list seems pretty long, but in fact it’s shorter now than when she was first diagnosed. In the intervening 3 years, we’ve tried our best to keep her from any exposure to the things she’s allergic to. The medical advice we’ve been given is that if (IF) the body is not exposed to the things it reacts to, there is a chance that the body will forget the immune response to those allergens, and that when the immune system reaches maturity (around 5 years of age) that it will become permanently forgotten, and she will have ‘outgrown’ her allergies. This theory revolves around the ‘no exposure’ part of it, so it puts the pressure on being vigilant about it.
We have already seen her lose her reaction to peas, green beans, and we are hopeful that she will lose more as time goes on. But if not, we have already developed many strategies to navigate through the allergy maze.
One of the hardest parts for us, being Asian, is in the preparation of dishes that require a sauce, either soy sauce or oyster sauce, or other barbeque sauces and what not. You wouldn’t think that there’s anything in a sauce to be allergic to, but in fact the common ingredient in these sauces is wheat. There is wheat in soy sauce, wheat in most oyster sauces, and so on. But these are the flavours that make Asian cuisine, and it’s hard to substitute them. So we had to find sauces that don’t contain wheat, and that hasn’t been easy.
I’d like to share my discoveries with you, and I’ll be starting a new series of posts about food allergies and strategies that we’ve developed over the last three years with our own children. So stay tuned, and I hope you’ll find something helpful here!