In 2008 I posted a story here on Associated Content titled Seven Children – Nineteen Food Allergies. I feel it’s time to do a follow up on that article because the number of food allergies in those seven children has more than doubled.
That’s right, in two years the number of food allergies in my house has reached 46, which makes keeping everyone healthy even more of a challenge. A recent visit to our new doctor with three of our children both made me question if I was doing a good job and reinforced that I am.
Along with a variety of health issues that we have to deal with on a daily basis, a new one was added to the mix. Vitamin D deficiency requiring prescription strength supplements. It was first discovered in my husband. We originally chalked it up a side effect of celiac disease since the doctor had run the same blood tests on me and found everything other than my thyroid normal. While doing physicals on three of my kids he discovered the same vitamin D deficiency as my husband. I really started to wonder if it was diet related since things were so limited but that would also mean I would have the same deficiency since we all ate the same things. It turns out that the doctor was suspecting a genetic link. The doctor we now have really does keep up on things and takes the time to read his medical journals. A recent study was posted in The Lancet about a study done in the role genetics play in vitamin D deficiencies. I was more than relieved that it wasn’t my fault because I hadn’t been feeding everyone properly.
After looking at the longest list of food allergies in one of my children he asked if she had undergone allergy testing. Yes, and the allergist recommended allergy shots. Allergy shots have not been something we have proceeded with because my daughter is none too thrilled about having things she is allergic to injected into her body. I can’t say I blame her. This is my child who has been allergic to most of asthma and allergy medications she has been put on. The doctor said with the list of things she is allergic to he would be worried about it as well and if she were his child he would get a second opinion.
So where do we stand now with the list of food allergens? Here is the list: milk, shellfish, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, kumquats, sweet potatoes, potatoes, cherries, kiwi, chicken, pork, raspberries, apples, watermelon, flax seed, annatto, garlic, peppers of all varieties and spices such as paprika that is made from peppers, corn and all corn products including things like high fructose corn syrup and cornstarch, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, wheat, asparagus, coconut, turkey, spinach, sauerkraut, pineapple, mango, peaches, olives, okra, honey, grapefruit, chocolate, caffeine, snow peas and blue cheese.
Yes, that is a lot of foods to not be able to bring in the house because of the risk of cross-contamination. It’s happened before so allergens have been outlawed. Grocery shopping takes hours because we have to read the labels on everything. Manufacturers change ingredients all the time. It’s also a lot to remember. Pepper allergies mean nothing with green peppers, red peppers, jalapenos or the other 30 plus varieties of peppers, cayenne, paprika, and chili powder.
We have to get creative. Only plain spices can be used, none of those premixed spice mixes everyone is so fond of because they eliminate the need to think through spice combinations. Most pre-packaged food is out. We have found a small handful of organic gluten-free products that can be used by companies like Mrs. Leepers and Annies. I am always on the lookout for new rice recipes and new beef recipes. It only takes so long before you become bored with the same foods.
We did learn how to accommodate everyone with pizza using gluten-free crust from a mix. While this may seem l like the hardest thing to make with allergies, it is actually the easiest way to feed everyone because everyone is able to make their own pizza with things they aren’t allergic to. One of my kids even puts canned vegan chili that is made without tomatoes on her pizza instead of tomato sauce.
An even bigger problem outside of food is cleaning supplies. Everyone loves fresh fruity smells and they are everywhere. Bath soap and shampoo companies are fond of putting coconut oil, wheat and fruit extract in their products. The same goes for dish soap and other cleaning supplies.
The most interesting thing that I learned this summer as it pertains to allergies in my house has to do with bees. My oldest son is allergic to both bee stings and honey. A small amount of bee venom is actually found in honey. I know I haven’t been told by any doctor, including allergists, that those who have an allergic reaction to bee stings shouldn’t eat honey or that those allergic to honey should watch out for bees. This is the kind of information that I wonder if doctors even have or if it’s the sort of thing that they assume is common sense that you can figure out on your own.
At the end of the day, if no one has gotten sick from something food related I consider the day a success.