Monday, October 29, 2012

Why I'm Thankful for Food Allergies

Food allergies are everywhere these days.  They are tough to handle and very scary.  The day I found out our 5 month old Sam was allergic to milk, eggs and peanuts was one of the scariest days of my life as a parent.  I couldn't envision what he would eat and how I would keep him safe.  He since outgrown the milk and peanut allergy (hallelujah!!), but we still deal with the egg allergy every day.  In the meantime, I became educated and empowered as a parent of a child with food allergies.  I joined support groups and followed blogs.  I learned to read food labels and how to be an advocate for my child.  I cleaned out our kitchen and purged anything containing peanuts and tree nuts... and guess what happened in the meantime? I got rid of the majority of the JUNK.  Most of the stuff that contains nuts or is processed around nuts was junk food.  Snacks, desserts... stuff we shouldn't be eating anyway.  I was forced to rethink the way that I cooked and naturally started to make healthier food for my family... mostly because we initially were forced into this. 

Even though he can now have some of those snacks and desserts since he outgrew his nut allergy, we're now out of the habit of eating things like that.  I usually don't even go down the snack/dessert aisle at the grocery.  Since he is still VERY allergic to eggs, we still avoid a lot of junk food.  He can't have cookies, cakes, waffles, pancakes, baked goods, breads, etc. that contain eggs... which still eliminates food that are mostly unhealthy! 

Sam has never had a donut.  Ever.

He's never had a cookie or cupcake from a bakery.

He has never had a Little Debbie snack cake.

We never eat breakfast out since the pancakes and waffles at restaurants have eggs, and he obviously woudn't be ordering an omelete!

Heck, even a lot of ice creams are not safe for him.

And you know what?  It's okay.  Sometimes I wish it were easier, that we could just run down to Dunkin Donuts for a special treat.  Sometimes when there is something right in his face that he would love to have but can't have (i.e. the special Halloween cupcakes at a buffet we were at the other day), I ache for him and wish he didn't have to worry about it. 

But most of the time, I'm thankful for his allergies.  Crazy, but true. We have become a MUCH healthier family as a result.  We don't buy the junk food, we don't eat out much at all.  Instead, we have a garden in our backyard.  We spend our money on food that are more nourishing for our bodies. 

When Sam originally was diagnosed with milk, eggs and peanut allergy, he basically could only eat fruits, veggies and meat.  Today, fruits and veggies remain his favorite food.  He will beg me for fruit over a  piece of candy.  He LOVES planting and harvesting from our own garden.  He LOVES LOVES LOVES stopping by the farm stand in the summer and picking out corn, peppers, potatoes.... he loves eating healthy and fresh.  His favorite foods are soups that are bursting with vegetables.  I truly believe this is a direct result from his food allergies and how they have directed us to a healthier lifestyle.

So, yep, I'm thankful for his food allergies.  I'm thankful for a caring and thorough allergist.  I'm thankful for his amazing preschool that is peanut-free and is very careful about his snacks.  I'm thankful that he was born into a family who is aware and are advocates for his health and well-being.  Now he's becoming his own advocate and is very careful about what he eats.  We've been told that most kids outgrow their egg allergy, and I do hope he does.  But I also am very thankful that they've given us a start to a much healthier lifestyle.

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