Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is the glass half full, half empty, or just full of allergens?

Like a growing number of families, we are obsessed with food because of food allergies. We are currently avoiding wheat, eggs, corn, green beans, olives (and olive oil), pork, tree nuts and black beans because of reactions that Ariana and Joel have. We also avoid peanuts and shellfish because our kids are so allergic to other things. I react to soy protein, and we were dairy-free for a year and a half because of Joel's reactions when he was a baby. If someone becomes allergic to rice, I will pull out my hair strand by strand.

On the half empty side, I get sick of scrutinizing every bite and carrying Epi-pens everywhere. I feel bad when someone graciously offers us something to eat and I either refuse or grill them on ingredients and cross-contamination issues instead of just joyfully thanking them. Do you have any idea how hard it is to avoid corn?! It is in EVERYTHING! It makes me sad when the kids ask for something they can't have or have to eat something different from everyone else at social occasions, even though they handle it well. I know that Elena is also genetically predisposed to allergies, and I fight the temptation to worry. Starting solids with her is going to be stressful, though we have several months before that will be an issue. I am hoping that the kids outgrow some of the allergies

On the half full side, I am so relieved that we know what was causing the reactions. The couple of weeks before Joel was tested, I was on pins and needles with each meal, fearing another reaction. Also, I am grateful that most of the reactions are fairly mild and quickly controlled with Benedryl. I am glad that the physical reactions like hives caused me to learn more about reactions such as behavior issues, sleep issues and potty issues. For example, if Ariana gets any wheat, she goes wild. She'll be bouncing off the walls, incredibly LOUD, prone to emotional meltdowns, aggressive, and won't sleep well. If not for the allergist (and seeing the difference without wheat) I would have thought these were discipline issues rather than an allergic reaction, but according to the doctor it isn't at all uncommon. I know several kids who respond the same way to food dyes. Dairy causes bladder spasms in some children, and the list goes on and on.

Another benefit is that we are much more aware of what we eat and I'm becoming a better cook :) The kids love to help me cook. This morning, we made a tropical cake (bananas, coconut, pineapple and white chocolate, and a brown sugar glaze--yum!). They love measuring and adding ingredients, and since we do so many experiments rather than following recipes, they are quite creative about suggesting substitutions and combinations. We have a lot of fun, and most of it tastes pretty good. The kids already know quite a bit about cooking and baking, and we have a wonderful time together.

So, overall, yeah, I think it is...two-thirds full? Maybe even three-quarters? ;)


Busy Momma said...

Hey, girl! It's great to see you on here! Aunt Saundra unites us once again! I know completely what you're saying about allergies. My little one has severe tree nut and peanut allergies. Like you, I'm thankful I know what causes his reactions, but it IS exhausting! I'll keep up through your blogs!

granny2five said...

Reading your post makes me realize how thankful I should be that neither of my kids nor any of our grandchildren had that type of thing to deal with. Dondra had mild allergies (allergic "groncitis" as she called it), and Jeff was very sensitive to certain topical elements, but nothing serious. Stephen has had issues with mild asthma, but only one bad attack. He seems to be outgrowing it. Are we fortunate or what??