In the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten so many emails from lovely readers who are just starting out on their food allergy journey. I read their overwhelmed emails with tears in my eyes. I know exactly how it feels to get that diagnoses for your child and wonder how in the world you’ll ever be able to feed them again. How you’ll ever be able to feed them without holding your breath each time wondering if this one bite is going to send them straight to the hospital. You see I have been living with food allergies with my son for 12 years and to this day my eyes still well up whenever my cell phone rings during school hours as I instantly image the worst. I can’t help it. My 12 year old son has severe food allergies and in addition to dairy, eggs, fish and nuts, he is also allergic to gluten. He can and has gone into an anaphylactic reaction just from the smell of regular pasta cooking. It’s scary.
To say I panicked in the beginning is an understatement and we literally fumbled our way through the first couple of years. I made a lot of mistakes. I felt very alone. It’s not an easy thing for those not dealing with food allergies to understand. It can be hard on friendships and it can be hard on a marriage.
Thankfully though I did get the help and support I desperately needed from some amazing resources. I’m still as hyper vigilant as always but I can definitely say my anxiety has lessened over the years. My son is old enough now to take on some of the responsibility himself for his food allergies and that helps. He often cooks his own meals and has even started doing more of his own treat baking as well. In fact this past weekend I was going to leave him overnight with friends for the very first time when my hubby and I went to Banff to see Live with Kelly (up to this point it’s only been my mom that I have felt comfortable leaving him with but she lives all the way in Ontario). However in the end we decided to take all the kids with us and it wasn’t necessary but it was still a huge step for me just to even consider it.
If you would like to read more about our story please read here.
So today I’d like to share with you my top three favorite food allergy resources in hopes that it will provide some relief to someone else. Hang in there, it does get easier I promise.
Favorite Food Allergy Cookbook:
I highly recommend the purchase of the book, Special Foods for Special kids: Practical Solutions and Great Recipes for children by Todd Adelman and Jodi Behrend (affiliate link).
Of all the allergy cookbooks I have purchased and read over the years this one alone made all the difference in my ability to provide kid friendly, easy to make, safe alternatives for my son. You can find a few of the recipes from this book on my blog under Recipes – Allergy Free. It is an older book but still very relevant and helpful. This cookbook includes over 100 kid-tested great tasting recipes for practical, meal-time solutions for allergies to dairy, gluten and egg.
Favorite Online Food Allergy Support Group:
This amazing resource called Kids with Food Allergies was an absolute lifesaver for me back when we were first starting out. I learned so much from the fantastic community of parents over there. It is still run by the same lady today as it was way back when. The members are so supportive, the recipes shared are abundant and the resources supplied are out of this world. If you’ve never had the opportunity to check it out for food allergy help, I highly recommend you do. If you have a question about anything no matter how big or small, there is always someone around to answer it for you.
Favorite Gluten-Free Flour Blend:
Now I know this might sound strange to include this in my list of resources but honestly finding this blend made cooking and baking for my son so much easier. This flour blend made such a difference for us that I couldn’t not include it here and it is by far the best substitute that I have found for regular flour (and I’ve tried many!). I’m able to sub it into recipes cup for cup. I routinely make up a big batch and keep it in the fridge ready to pull out whenever we need it.
Gluten Free Flour Blend:
1 cup brown rice flour
1 1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2/3 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 tsp xanthan gum
Easy to do and you almost can’t taste the difference!!
Food Allergy Blogs:
I actually don’t have a favorite blog that focuses primarily on food allergies. My son’s list of allergies are so extensive that it’s hard to find one that can accommodate all of them. Most cater to gluten-free which is super helpful to many but doesn’t really help us out much considering all his other allergies. Since I’ve been doing this for so long though it’s really not a problem for me to simply adapt whatever recipe I’m using for the whole family to make it safe for my son to eat. However that being said you can find a list of gluten free/allergy free sites listed on my Menu Planning Resources page.
Now it’s your turn. If you have a favorite food allergy resource or simply some encouragement you could offer for those just starting out would you be so kind to leave it in the comments of this post. Thanks everyone!!