So, in honor of John, today we have a guest writer, Claire Edmundson, who will be sharing a little abotu food allergies with kiddos!
Healthy Tums, Happy Moms
Every mom likes to see their kids enjoy their food, finishing off what is on their plates and leaving the table happy and healthy. We know that that kids have their fads, eating something solidly for six months and wondering how they don’t go off the taste of it, only to then decide they don’t like that anymore and won’t eat it – usually within two days of our having bought a month’s supply and put it in the freezer. But how do we please our kids and keep them fed when we discover they have an allergy?
Responding to Allergy
Identifying that one of our kids has an allergy and then the sometimes long road to figuring out which food, or foods, they are allergic to is one story. The way in which we have to respond to the allergy and change our lifestyle to accommodate it is another.
Food allergies in children are surprisingly common. It is estimated that 8% of children in the US have a food allergy; with the most common being peanuts, milk or eggs. This is costing the nation almost a staggering $25 billion dollars a year in medical expenses, specialist foods and changes to diet, as well as working lifestyle changes.
On the Bright Side
Changing the way we cook and serve food because of an allergy can actually be good for all the family. Not only do we eat more healthily, but the family gets to spend more time together. Licensed Prescriptions informs us that although involving our kids in cooking has been something of a dying art in recent years, doing this makes for an interest in good, healthy food and teaches our kids a great skill for when they are older. Going back to scratch with our cooking might seem like a huge deal when we have gotten used to depending on convenience foods from the stores; but cooking from all the basic ingredients gives us the chance to try out new foods, put different ingredients together to come up with some amazing meals that all the family will enjoy and mean healthier, happier tums. Just discovering new recipes from books or online is an activity which can involve all the family; and getting the kids joining in with recipe hunting can be turned into a great game.
Getting Down to Basics
Without going into the maze of dos and don’ts when it comes to our child eating outside home, whether at school, with the child minder or at friends’ houses, adjusting our lives to avoid any chance of setting off an allergic reaction starts at home, right in the kitchen. There is a real danger of cross-contamination if we have a child with a severe allergy. For this reason, many parents choose to get rid of all foodstuffs in the house which contain the allergen.
The shopping list is one of the first things to get a makeover. Off come all the foods which our kid has an allergy to, along with any foods which might possibly contain even a hint of the forbidden food. All of a sudden, we have very little left – especially if we are dealing with an egg or wheat intolerance.
The cupboards get cleared out too. A great way of disposing of all those packs and cans which are no longer safe to be eaten is to box them all up and give them to your local church for distribution or to a local charity or food bank.
A major shop is then in store as you have to re-stock your shelves and cupboards with foodstuffs that are safe for your family to eat.
Thankfully there are substitutes we can use for many, if not all, the ingredients which now have to be left out of our cooking.
When we want to cook food which normally needs eggs, for example, we can sometimes use egg replacement products, which should not be confused with egg substitute products as these are aimed at people with cholesterol problems and DO contain egg. Egg replacement products, often bought in powder form, can be used in recipes where the eggs act as a leavening or binding agent. Whatever we buy, it is really important to read the label when we pick it up off the shelf to make sure it is completely safe. Xanthan gum can also be used to bind and add texture. For a child with a corn allergy in addition to egg, Xanthan gum should not be used as it is derived from and fed on corn sugar. Where we need to use egg to glaze foods before cooking, using melted margarine is a great substitute.
For wheat substitutes, we have a number of different alternatives. Depending on what we want to cook, we can either choose to use a single ingredient substitute such as rice flour, potato starch or rolled oats; or combine different non-wheat flours, such as rice flour, oat flour and barley flour for better results.
With so much information available to us and support in changing our cooking and eating habits, having an allergy in the house can mean a real improvement in the quality of the food we eat and the health, not just of our kids, but the whole family.
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