Monday, April 27, 2015

How To Feed a Kid Who's Allergic to Everything

Diverse Eisspatel
By Lampshade (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


My son is literally allergic to everything.

Okay, not literally. But that’s what it feels like sometimes.

He has eczema, so wheat, milk, and eggs are automatically out of the equation. We’ve also discovered some food sensitivities that lead to pretty painful and/or messy consequences. Bananas give him stomach aches. Strawberries give him diarrhea. Citrus gives him rashes. Gassy vegetables… well, that one is self-explanatory.

So, what’s a mom to do when basically everything healthy and convenient is off the table?

Drink a lot of wine.

Just kidding (although…). I’ve actually got things pretty much figured out at this point. It took a while to find a good balance, but we have. Below are a few tips that have basically become my feed-the-baby bible.

·        Substitute.

It’s a lot easier to swap a few things out of the menu altogether and find replacements than it is to make an entirely separate meal. When I want to make spaghetti, I buy gluten-free pasta. When I bake (which is approximately once a year), I swap in flax seed for eggs. Coconut milk works well in place of dairy for sweets. A quick Google search will pretty much always turn up a good list of subs for any given ingredient.

·        Assembly line.

If you have a kid that can’t eat dairy or some other completely delicious food group, I get it. It totally sucks. But you can still get your cheese fix. Assembly-line style meals are a great option, because every topping is optional. Think a taco bar or a basic lettuce salad with different toppings available to choose from. Just because one kiddo can’t eat it doesn’t mean the rest of the family has to go without all the time.

·        Get creative.

If your child has allergies or sensitivities to ingredients that are common in most of the food for your region, look for recipes outside of your comfort zone. International cuisine has a lot to offer. I’ve personally found that Thai food works well for our needs. Bonus? It’s delicious.

·        Make it homemade.

There are a lot of delicious recipes that call for ‘banned’ ingredients. See if you can find a way to make them within your diet requirements. Condensed cream of chicken is a breeze to make with gluten-free flour, for instance, and it beats the heck out of the canned stuff.

·        Finger food is your friend.

Food allergies and sensitivities can make it hard to find convenient quick foods for when you’re on the go, but a lot of finger foods have simple ingredients suited to most diets. Vegetables cut into sticks or chunks, dried fruit, granola clusters, and snack mixes (like mixed nuts, or nut-free trail mix if nuts aren’t an option) have proven to be lifesavers for us.

Having a kid with allergies and food sensitivities isn’t easy. It can definitely be a downright bummer. But with a little bit of extra planning, it doesn’t have to be quite so overwhelming.