As moms we get handed surprises all the time, but a food allergy is a tough one. We have to figure out how to get that food out of our child’s diet and with an allergy to dairy or gluten we quickly realize that they can be in just about anything. But we also have to deal with the bigger picture. It’s sad to think your kid can’t have what other kids have. It’s hard when your child is offered things and you have to help them say “no” despite the disappointment. And it’s difficult to figure out how one child’s situation affects the rest of the family.
The good news is that I think these diagnoses are a blessing in disguise. They force us to look at what we are putting into our bodies. They make us look at food and our lifestyle with a new lens. And they do the same for our kids, leading to healthy habits that follow them into adulthood
Here are a few tips:
If you are new on this path…
- Write a list of 10 things that you know your child will eat and can eat, and that you can make. Be confident that those 10 things are enough while you learn the other stuff you need to know.
- Get your oxygen mask fully on. You know how on planes they tell you to put on your oxygen mask before you help your child? This is the same thing. You need to feel confident about your food, and that you are eating to feel really good — this affects your body, mind and soul. Remember, kids learn by example! The best free tool we have for you is 10 days of doable changes. Sign-up and you will be well on your way to full oxygenation!
- Make a plan. Each week sit down and make a plan. First make a list of all the things going on — school, activities, birthday parties, work, playdates. This will show you where there will be food served and you may need to plan an alternative. The most stress related to diet change comes from not being prepared. With your week on paper, start planning your food — what you will have and when you will make it.
If you have been living with food allergies or sensitivities for a while but still find yourself frustrated or overwhelmed…
- Make sure you have done steps 1-3 above.
- Find a group of women who are in your same situation. You are not alone and it sure helps to be able to ask other moms what they do about school events, birthday parties, or a picky eater. We would love to have you participate in our group membership lab. It is also really helpful to find other parents who are part of your daycare, school, or community. Just ask (teachers will know the kids who have allergies and can tell you which parents to talk to)!
- Make sure you are using your weekends to prepare. Usually a food allergy or sensitivity means making more food from scratch. This is a good thing! But you need to add it to all the other things you do as a busy mom so really use the weekends or nights to cut up fruits for snack, bake healthy sweet treats, and create meals that you can warm up on a busy day.
No matter where you are…
You need to be able to find joy in the kitchen. It sucks to do something you hate. I had to find a way to like the kitchen too and not knowing how to cook, it was hard! That was seven years ago. Today I find myself hiding out in the kitchen when I want to relax. I can promise you that if I can do it, you can do it too! We have a free webinar about it… Sign-up here »
Need a few more tips to get going? If you are trying to avoid dairy or gluten, these are some of my favorite food strategies…
- Make some smoothie magic! Smoothies can be filling, nutrient dense, and delish. For a child they are akin to a milkshake. Three of my favorites are Peanut Butter Chocolate, Strawberries and Cream, and Mango Madness. Invest in travel containers, fun cups and straws, and you’ll never miss the ice cream parlor again!
- Fill the cookie jar. Cookies take 20 minutes to make and are better than any store bought variety — especially if yours are naturally sweetened! It takes practice to get in the habit, but if you make a double (or triple) batch every Sunday, you will always have an amazing snack. Hint: bake with kids when they are young and by 10 or 12, they can do this! Try my easy oatmeal cookies.
- Embrace fruits and veggies. Usually when we hear what we can’t have we forget what we can have! Every human being, allergies or not, needs 8-10 servings of fruits and veggies a day. So forget about all that processed food that contains your allergens and think of how easy it is to munch on an apple, wash some grapes, or cut some carrot sticks… I have a great way to make this happen in my house, so if you’re not eating those 10 fruits and veggies a day sign-up for this quick 30 minute Webinar to learn more.
I am here for you. There are five of us in my house, and a few different allergies. My daughter cannot eat gluten and is allergic to anything derived from a cow. I have the same issue with gluten and have found that I feel my best eating vegan. I have a son with a shellfish allergy, and a husband and daughter who could potentially eat anything. This journey has helped us all eat better, enjoy time together around one meal every evening, and avoid lots of unnecessary sick days.