Ironically, I was working on this post when the internet at the café’ had a blip, and I discovered that writing the draft in the blog format did not, in fact, save what I had written. Lovely. Thank you life, for those lemons.
I have talked about our sons and their food allergies and sensitivities here on the blog off and on, but in ‘real’ life I often try to downplay things or avoid talking about it too much, for fear of either boring people or annoying them. Both are things I try to avoid, because, you know. Friends are nice. But the more we get into this whole allergy thing, the more complicated it’s getting, and, like it or not, it’s a BIG part of our lives. So, by not talking about it, I’m essentially not sharing a big part of my life with people. Rather than worry about what people are thinking, I figure we’ll just roll with it, and if I talk a lot about it, then it just means I like sharing life with you. Or that you’re reading my blog. That too.
We’ve also noticed that because their reactions aren’t always immediate (they can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours), people sometimes assume that a little bit of something doesn’t hurt them. While I don’t want to be a helicopter parent, I also want to ensure that the severity of their allergies is understood.
On to the title of this post…it is tongue-in-cheek, on purpose. Jude’s been having all these weird reactions to random things: egg, citrus fruits, banana, avocado, kiwi, green beans. Then he started eating raisins and LOVED them, but also hated life. Like, miserable all day unless he was sleeping, and even then would wake up just screaming and we couldn't do anything to help him. I love raisins too, but not at the expense of the rest of life. Sorry, raisins. We already had confirmed from his GI and pediatrician that he can’t tolerate dairy, soy or corn, but the others were just strange.
So, we started researching, discussing, and consulting with his doctors. There’s some more testing to go, but it is looking like he has histamine intolerance. It’s…um…interesting. There’s some conflicting information about ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’ foods, but there are some pretty common foods that are definite ‘nos’. No canned foods. No yeast. Some grains. No fermented foods. No aged foods. No cured/processed meats. No tomatoes, strawberries, bananas, citrus, avocado, eggplant, spinach. No cinnamon, cloves, curry, chili powder, anise, cocoa, nutmeg or paprika. No dried fruits. No pitted fruits. No leftovers. Then there are about 50 ‘these may bother you or they may not’ foods.
At first, it was incredibly overwhelming, and my head was spinning. Every list I looked at had conflicting information on what to feed him. Keep in mind, he also only has 1 1/2 teeth, so there's that. I finally realized we just had to pick one and stick with it for now, and modify as we go. We’re following this list, with a few tweaks, as Jude can do some fish and some grains. While still overwhelming, we’re trying to look at it as a challenge, a way for us all to eat really healthy, and, in my view, it’s a ‘capsule diet’. Like my wardrobe, but with food. Slightly cheesy, yes, but it helps, so I’m going with it. Like a capsule wardrobe, we're keeping some 'trendy' items on hand. Like for Graham, his sandwich bread, jelly and sunbutter, and organic hot dogs, because…easy. And when your kid wasn't able to eat that stuff until recently, shoot. You eat that junk food kid. And enjoy. Also, Jim and I have agreed to pick a night every once in a while and cook and eat something just we enjoy, after the kids go to bed. Like buying a fancy necklace just because, even though it doesn't fit in the overall 'wardrobe' theme.
Overall, however, we’re trying to eat as much of the SAME THING as possible, all four of us. It requires a lot of planning and a lot of prep, but oh my goodness, cooking one meal/evening is heavenly. When Graham couldn’t eat meat or much protein at all that wasn’t very feasible, but he’s tolerating so much more now, and it’s really working! He can even do some rice and we are trying quinoa…which means we can all do gluten-free and not just Jim!
Weekends are for food prep, and our fridge has never been this organized, ever. Here are some pictures of what that looks like for us. Leftovers have to be frozen immediately for Jude, so we keep glass containers on hand to put leftovers in that we can throw (rather, gently place) in the freezer.
Our prep this weekend consisted of:
- chopping sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots, zucchini and yellow squash, and cauliflower so they are ready to be roasted
- cooking a spaghetti squash and putting the squash into small portions in the freezer, to fry as 'hash browns' in coconut oil
- soaking and cooking a big batch of white beans and a batch of black beans, then freezing in individual servings
- blanching some of the butternut squash and freezing, for a quick vegetable
- making buckwheat pancakes and freezing them (just pop in the toaster in the morning to heat)
- planning 2 weeks of meals from what we had on hand; some nights Jim and I are using up some of the 'old' food that the boys can't eat.
- making a batch of dairy/soy/egg/baking powder-free muffins with carrot, coconut and zucchini (this didn't happen til Tuesday)
I think the hardest part has been trying to figure out what to take on the go! While I'm sure bringing fresh fruit and veggies is sometimes ok, let's be honest, I'm a mama of young kids, who sometimes wants to wander the aisles of Target and shove some sort of food in her kids' mouths so they stay quiet. Are you with me? Well, Target heard me, and they answered. Let me introduce you to freeze-dried snacks.
Regular dried fruit is a huge no-no, but freeze-dried? As long as the food is originally safe, it's still safe. They're small, they basically melt in their mouth, and it's just.fruit. Target also has their own brand. I want to buy stock in these. Until that happens, if you live here, just be warned, our section might be a little empty, because I have them all. Well, at least all of the apple, mango and blueberry ones.
So this was a lot longer of a post than I thought. Oh well. It's my blog...I do what I want. Boom. I plan to write updates as we have them, and also post good recipes we find, in case anyone would enjoy some allergy-friendly cooking. Or not. Life can be complicated and weird and hard, but God is so good, and knowing that makes it all manageable, because even this crazy-town way of eating, and taking care of our boys in this way is for our GOOD, and that is something I can say with full confidence. We may not be able to make lemonade, but maybe I'll just throw those lemons back and say 'suck 'em. we don't need them anyway.' (but I won't. that would be rude to life.)