Thursday, May 16, 2013

Food Allergy Awareness Week

There I was, standing in the bread aisle.  I could not believe it.  Every single loaf of healthy looking bread had the same dreaded words:

This product contains or may contain nuts.


I was 600+ miles away from home and hit head on with the reality of my food allergyEating will never be the same

Nearly in tears, I called my mom and asked her to send me her homemade bread recipe.  It was either that, or “Wonderbread”. 

Although I confronted the realities of my food allergy head on in 2005, I’ve had food allergies since I was 5 years old. 

A little taste of a Brazil Nut at Christmas time led to my throat itching and swelling, and a diagnosis of a nut allergy.   

When I was little, managing my food allergy was easy, as nuts were relatively easy to avoid.  Now, however, nuts are in just about everything

Although I don’t talk about allergies often here on the blog, they are a real part of every moment of my life. 

Having a food allergy impacts the way you think about food.  Since so much of our culture revolves around food, having a food allergy impacts you at least three times every day, often in ways you might not even expect

So, what are we allergic to?


  • All tree nuts (e.g., Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, etc)
  • Seeds – sesame
  • Most raw fruits & vegetables
    • I have Oral Allergy Syndrome where my body thinks that the raw fruits and veggies I consume are actually pollen molecules that I am allergic to (like Birch or Maple pollen).  As a result, my body reacts to these raw fruits. 

Frog Prince:

  • Pumpkin
  • Strawberries

In addition, my MIL has celiac disease, which requires here to avoid gluten and dairy. 

Needless to say, we are no strangers to food allergies.

Seeing as this week is Food Allergy Awareness Week, I wanted to share my story with you and remind you of a nut-allergy series Lynn (from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures) and I did a few years ago and share my three tips for friends with food allergies.   

Three Tips for Supporting Someone with a Food Allergy

  1. Respect the food-allergic person’s boundaries.  Food-allergic folks have clear boundaries that allow them to feel comfortable with food; these boundaries change over time, but they are well-thought out and intentional. 
  2. Please don’t take offense if we are not comfortable eating what you prepare, even if you go out of your way to prepare allergy-friendly food. See #1 above. If you are interested in cooking for a food-allergic friend, take a look at my tips.   
  3. Please understand the severity.  One of the biggest challenges food-allergic folks face is a misunderstanding about the severity of the allergy.  This is understandable with all the vocabulary – allergy, intolerance, sensitivity, etc.   For an allergy, though, all it takes is one molecule to trigger an anaphylactic reaction.  This could be a result of cross-contamination, a real concern for those with food allergies.   

Do you have a food allergy?  Know someone with an allergy?  I’d love to hear about your experiences with food allergies.


  1. Great post! Food allergies change your life and does change the way you think about food. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    1. You are so right, Lynn. And you know this very well!

  2. Our oldest has a severe peanut allergy and my husband has the same fruit/veggie allergy as you and is also sensitive to gluten and dairy. Sometimes its very frustrating making my menus for the week, but I make it through!

    1. I think there are moments where my food allergies are even harder for my husband than for me! It's a hard thing for all people in a family -- and it sounds like you're persevering.

  3. Great post! I also suffer from some food allergies. Peanuts being one of them.Also, I am starting to notice that when I have wheat, I don't feel well, at all. I have even had to cancel outings, etc. because of being sick. So, I am off of wheat and feel better. It's hard.
    I remember reading in your blog that you had nut allergies but had no idea about you not being able to eat most raw veggies and fruits. I am sorry!
    Thank you for this post!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Cherie. Yes, that's why you don't see many salad recipes on the blog :)

  4. I actually struggle with people taking my sons allergies too seriously. My one year old can't have dairy or peanuts. (Used to be eggs as well, but now he can eat them, he just won't). So I have to tell the nursery workers at church or MOPS. But he doesn't have severe allergies. So far the worst that's ever happened is a couple of hives and he's never actually had a reaction to peanuts but we stay away until he's older since the blood tests say he's allergic. So the nursery workers give me this look of horror and call me every time a kid who ate gold fish crackers kisses him. I always say the same thing "Does he have a rash or hives? Is he having trouble breathing? If not he's probably fine." I realize that for some people allergies are life threatening. But for us they are mostly an inconvenience and an expense. So it's hard for me when I'm pressured to bring my child his own snacks (when I've told the workers dozens of times that he can eat pretty much anything they serve but Goldfish crackers or yogurt puffs), or when other parents think that I shouldn't allow him to go to the nursery (or ideally ever be out of my sight). Every family deals with allergies differently and like you said above, we need to have respect for that.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience! The challenge with allergies, especially with food-based ones is that they function differently. Therefore, everyone handles them differently. It's not a one-size fits all approach.

      You said the key: having respect for how each person/family handles things.

  5. SnoWhite,
    I just wanted to thank you for sharing your experience. We are very very lucky to not have any allergies (other than pet on my end) in our family. We were very careful trying new foods on our young son until we knew there wasn't any sort of trouble for him. It can all be a scary thing!

    I also wanted to ask a brief question. I notice in all of your homemade bread pictures, your bread is sliced so nice and the pieces are all uniform and evenly sliced. What is your secret? I do not make homemade sandwich type bread very often because I can never slice it right. It is never even and always a mess. Any tips or advice?

    Thank you again!

  6. Thanks for your posting here! My three year old is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and coconut (the latter being surprisingly the most difficult to cope with as coconut oils are in not only many foods but also household products including lotions, soaps, vitamins, and the list goes on...). We want her to be able to participate as much as she can when she's in social situations in terms of not always feeling like the one who can't eat birthday cakes at friends' parties, etc., but I recognize that she'll likely have some "feeling left out" kinds of moments ahead. How did you/your parents cope with your allergies at a young age? This season of having my daughter at home and relatively sheltered seems to me to be the easiest chapter because I can closely monitor what she eats, but I feel a bit apprehensive as she heads off to school next year and beyond, knowing that it's unlikely that everyone in her world will be as vigilant as we have been at home about ingredients.

    My mother-in-law is visiting in just a few weeks, and she can't consume gluten, soy, dairy, or peanuts. Any creative recipe suggestions? I love your blog!

  7. I remember now that food allergies is what brought me to your blog (quite a while ago now!) My son is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and was allergic to eggs up until recently (he is 5). It has been quite a challenge, and even though his reactions have not been severe, with allergies, you never know what the next reaction could be. I enjoy your healthier approach to recipes, and had no idea you could not eat most raw fruits and veggies. I am going to look into the Oral Allergy Syndrome - b/c that would explain some random reactions I've had to things in the past. Thanks for the info!

  8. We thankfully do not have any food allergies at all in our home. However, we have many good friends that do, which has made us very aware of it. One of our closest friends has peanut, egg and dairy allergies. We have used it as a learning curve, with teaching them to read labels as well...they ask his parent before offering them anything, ever and they have learned a lot.

    I think the hardest things I have seen was many gatherings revolve around food, but they usually bring their own or let us know what things are safe.


Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you; especially how you're finding JOY in your kitchen.

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