Help for Multiple Food Allergies, Eczema, and Asthma
Gluten free, dairy free, egg free, tree nut free, soy free, sesame free, flax free, sunflower/safflower free, seed free, and tapioca free!
The world is full of things my son and I can’t have, but that doesn’t mean life has to be anything but delicious! Between the two of us, we are allergic or sensitive to dairy, eggs, tree nuts, wheat gluten, soy, sesame, sunflower, safflower, tapioca, flax, and probably a few other things. We also have to deal with eczema and childhood asthma/reactive airway disease. There is a lot of information online regarding each of those things, and some sites deal with multiple allergies. However, with the ridiculous amount of things we avoid, I’m always piecing together information and modifying recipes to figure out what works for us. Also, it seems that once I finally perfect a recipe, I develop sensitivity to another ingredient, or my son is diagnosed with another allergy, and I need to modify the recipe once again. My experimentation has been ongoing for many years, and I hope that writing about it can save someone else some time, energy and frustration.
It began with a discovery, on my own, that I was sensitive to wheat gluten. This was many years ago, long before most people were familiar with celiac disease or had even heard of “gluten”, myself included. My symptoms were like having bad seasonal allergies all year long, around the clock. Sneezing, itchy eyes and throat, and itchy skin. No doctor ever suggested that I be tested for allergies or that I figure out if I had a food sensitivity. That just wasn’t common back then. I just took heavy-duty prescription allergy medicines, which helped only a little, and suffered through the symptoms that were not controlled. It was only when, in college, my roommates and I ran out of all bread products, and I didn’t stop at the bagel shop on the way to class for a couple of days, when I thought, “maybe I’m sensitive to something in bread?” After that, I cut out all bread products and immediately noticed a difference. It was only through months and months of research on my own (the internet was in its infancy back then and I didn’t even have a computer!) that I learned that regular flour is made of wheat and that wheat gluten is found in other grains as well. There were a lot of foods I could no longer eat. I would go to the grocery store and spend a couple of hours in the aisles, reading every ingredient list to find that there wasn’t a single brand of cereal or bread product on the shelves that I could eat. It was very depressing. And going out to a restaurant and avoiding gluten was near impossible back then. So I would go out to eat with friends or on dates and just suffer the consequences. But then I started finding support groups and sources for information about gluten free food, and started cooking more myself. After cutting gluten out entirely, I discovered that it also caused me to have headaches, almost every day, and even some mild depression. Without gluten in my diet, I have no more headaches or depression, which is wonderful.
Things have changed so much in the years since I first learned of my gluten sensitivity. Everyone now knows what gluten is and you can find gluten free food everywhere. It’s a different world! But of course, my sensitivities have only increased over the years. I figured out that tapioca starch gives me a problem. That’s unfortunate, as it is in the majority of gluten free baked goods on the market! Then when I was pregnant I discovered that soy made me itchy. Some people with soy sensitivity can have soybean oil or soy lecithin without any effect, but not me! Have you noticed all of the things soy lecithin is in? EVERYTHING, it feels like. Almost all chocolates, candies, and prepared foods. And soybean oil is used in a ton of food products as well. I’ve found that the vast majority of restaurants use soybean oil as their standard cooking oil, which is very frustrating. Then I realized that sesame, flax seed, sunflower and safflower bother me too, so there were a lot more products I couldn’t eat and more recipes I had to modify or stop using. Lots of those things are in skin care products as, which is another issue to deal with.
Then along comes my second child with his own allergies. And wouldn’t you know it? None of his food allergies are the same as mine! The Venn Diagram of our food allergies/sensitivities has no overlapping parts. 🙂 He is allergic to milk, tree nuts and eggs, and also has asthma. All of the recipes I had perfected over the last decade which use those ingredients couldn’t be made for him. So I had to modify my recipes again to eliminate almond flour, eggs, milk and other dairy products. I’ve been successful in modifying some of them, and am still experimenting with the others in my lab – er, I mean kitchen!
I started Fearless Food Allergy Mom to share some things I have learned over the years about dealing with multiple food allergies, eczema, and asthma issues, including great recipes, information, tips and downloads to make your challenging life easier. I hope you find this blog helpful. Please fill out the contact form below and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!! ~ Tamar