Thursday, February 17, 2011

Food Allergies

We found out my oldest (almost 8!) was allergic to eggs when he was 3 years old. Through careful monitoring his diet and complete abstinence - he grew out of that allergy. He is still gun shy about eggs in general. At this point, he'll eat things made with eggs (like pancakes and waffles) but I'd never be able to talk him into eating an egg salad sandwich.

Because of his food allergy, I have been very sensitive to my other kids likes/tastes/reactions to food. My 6 year old has no allergies whatsoever - but my baby (now 3) started showing signs of eczema when she started eating solids. I was suspicious that she also had food allergies - but as far as food allergies go - doctor's won't 'test' for it until the child is atleast 1 year old.

I got her tested as close to her 1st bday as possible and found out that she was allergic to eggs and peanuts. When your child tests allergic to peanuts at such a young age, they suggest you abstain from all tree nuts as well - just to be safe.

We moved out of state right after my kids were tested - proving that my oldest had grown out of his egg allergy and proving that my youngest was allergic to eggs and peanuts. Since we moved, I have tried several times to locate a doctor that specializes in children's food allergies. I have come up empty handed. It's crazy. And frustrating. And annoying. And infuriating.

Children diagnosed with egg allergy often grow out of that allergy - as my oldest did - and more recently (although not 'tested' in a dr's office - tested in my house under my supervision) my youngest also outgrew her egg allergy. She is thrilled to be able to eat cakes, cookies, pancakes, etc.

Children diagnosed with peanut or tree nut allergies are most likely NOT able to grow out of that allergy. The great thing is that since I caught this food allergy when she was at such a young age - if she accidentally ingests a peanut or tree nut - her exposure has been so minimal that her symptoms are managable. I can't imagine being a Mom to one of those kids that goes into anaphylactic shock when a bag of peanuts is opened - bless them:)

Since my approach with the egg allergy has been complete abstinence - I took the same approach with my youngests peanut and treenut allergies. Until recently...

Through this whole "food knowledge" quest I am going through (which I promise to post about!) I have realized that abstinence in the traditional manner isn't the way to go. She will most likely have this peanut and tree nut allergy her entire life - so substitution is important.

Peanut butter is a great source of protein for my older kids - I lamented the fact that my youngest didn't get that yummy protein in her snacks like the other kids did. Who doesn't love celery with peanut butter (and raisins aka ants on a log) or peanut butter and apple slices or pretzels dipped in peanut butter?

I found this awesome peanut butter substitute through my research. It is made from sunflower seeds (which are seeds and not nuts) AND it has just as much protein and good fat as your run of the mill peanut butter does...
AND I found it at my local Wal-Mart. I know! I have several 'shopping lists' on my iPhone - one for the Asian market, one for Whole Foods, one for Wal-Mart, one for the gourmet store, etc. and although my shopping lists are seperate - I look for obsure ingredients wherever I shop. I was surprised and excited to find this at Wal-Mart.

To be honest, it doesn't taste like peanut butter. But, it is the same texture, and it has a peanut butter 'quality' about it AND my daughter loves it. She is so excited to be able to have peanut butter toast, PB&J's, pretzels, apples and celery with it. So - although it is more expensive - it's totally worth it.

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