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Food Allergies & Healthy Eating

What happens when someone is allergic to a food considered "healthy"? How do you manage food allergies and healthy eating? This will help!

Guest Post by Jessica Smartt [1]

My son Sam has food allergies. Every so often, I meet another mom who manages food allergies. It’s like I’ve found a soul mate.

We lock eyes and share a sympathetic smile: “You, too? Wow!” And we sort of fight the urge to hug each other.

We know what it’s like. We know how overwhelming it is at first, when you wonder, what in the world will he/she eat? We know the fear and stress that follow you to restaurants, play dates, and birthday parties.

It’s not easy. I’m glad to see a growing public awareness for “grain” issues, such as wheat allergies, gluten sensitivities and celiac disease. While dealing with grain sensitivities is surely a challenge, there are growing resources for snacking [2], baking [3], and meal-planning [4].

But what happens when the allergen is something many consider to be “healthy”?

I know the benefits of butter [5], whole milk, nuts, and eggs. I wish I could feed them to my son Sam.

But I can’t. To Sam, these foods aren’t healthy or beneficial; they’re life-threatening.

So, what’s a mother to do?

For us, at first, it was survival mode. [6]We scoured the edible landscapes for allergy-friendly products and found many foods he could eat. Hot dogs, deli-meat, rice milk, frozen chicken nuggets, margarine, jello, Oreo cookies, “butter-flavored” crackers – all were apparently safe for his allergies.

But, of course, we eventually realized: just because Sam can eat something, doesn’t mean he should.

It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve slowly come up with a diet that is not just safe for Sam, but also nourishing for our whole family.

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I finally feel that my son’s diet is not unfortunate or second-rate, but nourishing and healthy – a diet that anyone would benefit from.

Here are the staples of our dairy, egg, and nut-free pantry:

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When I make dinner, these foods form the basis for one dinner for everyone. Because Sam’s allergies are severe, I stopped cooking with cheese and milk in our home. (That sound in the background is my husband sobbing.)

But in most things, you can’t tell the difference. I make a yummy chicken pot pie [15], shepherd’s pie, and even creamy baked pasta, [16] all dairy free. Here are a few more dinner favorites around here:

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Of course, my kids love snacks. I view every snack as a chance to pack them with real-food nourishment. Here are a few of our favorite snacks:

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When I first discovered Sam’s allergies, I felt so overwhelmed and lost. I never dreamed I’d be able to bake, saute, and simmer up such delicious foods without allergens! Here are a few things I’ve learned:

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Do you have food allergies in your family? What are some foods you rely on to keep your family nourished?

 Top image by USDA [35]

*Disclaimer: Some writers at Keeper of the Home have convictions about not eating pork and other Biblically “unclean” foods, while others include them as a regular part of their whole foods diet. We don’t believe this is a firm rule or a moral position, and each family will have to decide whether to include these foods in their diet or not.

[36]This post is sponsored by Plan To Eat [36]Plan To Eat [36] was born from our desire to eat real food — great food — prepared at home, together as a family. Plan to Eat [36] is an online menu planner that uses your recipes, scheduled for the days you want them, automatically generating your grocery list, organized the way you like to shop. Eat well. Eat together.