Good morning! It’s Monday again, so you know what that means… a new installment in our Thrive series! Today we wanted to introduce Tina Sun. Tina is a mother of four, with her littlest suffering from an egg allergy, as well as several intolerances. We found her post really encouraging and like how she chooses to focus on what they CAN instead of CAN’T do. Take it away, Tina!
I am Tina Michelle. My husband, Wen, and I have 4 lovely children together; Chaz is 14, Brijet is 8, Ainzley is 7, and Dax is 2. Dax has several food allergies/intolerances, including beef, dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, gluten, and beans, and he has a significant speech delay. We noticed him reacting right from birth by screaming a ton and arching his back. I modified my diet as I was (and still am) nursing him. His reactions are mostly intestinal issues but his face swells, gets a rash, and he starts choking with eggs so we recently had to get an Epi-Pen. I am blessed to be able to work from home as a medical transcriptionist so I can keep a close watch on him at all times. He is so wild and likes to sneak food so he definitely keeps me on my toes! It has been a huge learning experience to navigate life with allergies. It requires constant thought in everything I do. Meal planning, grocery shopping, outings and events all have to include extra planning to keep him safe. A positive outcome has been my weight loss and overall better health.
What are five tips, tricks or products that have made your life with food allergies (or just life in general) easier?
1. FIND PRODUCTS YOU LOVE (AND LEARN TO COOK)
So Delicious, Earth Balance, and Enjoy Life Foods have all been amazing companies to help us through this allergy lifestyle. So Delicious makes an amazing line of coconut milk that Dax just loves. They also have a yummy coconut milk coffee creamer that helps me get through the day. Their coconut ice cream line is seriously tasty. Earth Balance makes a wonderful buttery spread that is safe for us. You have to be able to bake and cook more from scratch when dealing with allergies. They also make a sweet popcorn that Dax loves. Enjoy Life Foods has some scrumptious tasty treats. It is hard for a toddler to see his siblings eat yummy treats or watch kids at a party eat cookies and cake and you can’t have any. Being able to eat the Enjoy Life Foods cookies, candy bars, etc. helps Dax feel less excluded. They are not exactly cheap but we find coupons here and there to help out. I have yet to find a delicious gluten free all purpose flour that I am in love with but gluten was the last thing we took out of our diets so it is still relatively new to us.
2. RESEARCH RESTAURANT MENUS ONLINE (BEFORE YOU GO)
We love to eat out. I know it is awful for you but it makes our family happy to enjoy a meal out here and there. I have found it incredibly helpful to use the online allergen menus from various restaurants. I get overwhelmed trying to decipher safe foods while in the restaurant with kids so being able to have access to them from home is a sanity saver. I keep a list of the few safe places and foods we can have. I have to remember to keep checking back as they can change.
3. BE VIGILANT ABOUT LABEL READING!
Reading labels was hard to get used to. I never really put too much thought into it before dealing with Dax’s allergies. It was crazy to me to read that something like the off brand of diced tomatoes could have traces of milk, soy, etc. in them. We have learned to read labels, find the hidden dairy and alternative names, and stick to certain brands. The off brands usually are unsafe for us.
4. FIND YOUR COMMUNITY
Doing my research via internet and library have been my biggest life savers. Dax’s pediatrician, gastroenterologist, and allergist were really not very helpful. When Dax was a few weeks old, the GI doctor thought maybe Dax had a milk protein allergy, warned me to stop nursing and only give him the prescription formula, but offered no other resources. His doctors chose not to test him because the tests could be inconclusive considering most of his symptoms were GI. (Our new doctor is amazing and plans to test him when he is a little older.) I took to the internet, library, asked other people dealing with allergies for help. I found many great resources online. The social sites have been so great as I don’t feel near as alone. I feel like we can do this with a smile on our faces.
5. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
Realizing that this has helped us be more healthy has helped keep me going. I lost a lot of weight by changing my diet, I feel better, and I was able to stop some medications. I realize that Dax is getting the best health right now by eating healthy, homemade foods. Dax and I are the only ones in the family who follow this diet so it is hard to keep up with preparing the meals. I usually make a big pot of Dax’s favorite foods, like mashed potatoes, and keep them in the fridge for reheating. It really helps when we are rushing around at dinner time (I am a horrible meal planner) and I can just reheat mine and his food.
Follow along with Tina: