Food allergies force us into the kitchen out of necessity. But sometimes that necessity can turn out to have unexpected health benefits.
Recently on my Nut-Free Mom Facebook page, a reader shared that even though food allergies can be a drag, she had a recent revelation while at the zoo.
Jane K said "I watched my kids chow down on their turkey and avocado sandwiches, on homemade whole wheat bread, with a side dish of apple and strawberries. And homemade pumpkin choco chip cookies for dessert. I looked around, everyone else either had fast food or PBnJ on white bread, with chips... Etc. I realized that my kids are growing up healthier than they would without the allergies. I really have to think about what to feed them, but that means I THINK about what they eat... They aren't going to be these adults that have to force themselves to eat veggies and fruits. The allergies are forcing us to be a very healthy family, and I like it! (Not the allergies, but the fact that my kids are learning to eat so well.)"
I've often thought the same thing. Kind of like, well we have these allergies to deal with but I know my kids are learning to eat healthy foods and that will benefit them over the long term.
Families are so busy today. KIDS are so busy today, their lives filled with so many activities. That's why, besides the health benefits of home cooking, getting into the kitchen together is a great way to spend quality time with your kids. This is not a new idea at all, but one that is easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of every day life.
Some of my best childhood memories take place around the table--in fact the only birthday cakes I remember are the ones that were home-baked for me by my grandmother. Were they fancy? No. (Though they were delicious). When people cook for us we feel loved.
Here is what reader Tina had to say on my FB page: "I have my moments where I am upset about my lil ones food allergies BUT I always come back around to the silver lining :) It forces me to feed my kids healthier foods. It forces me to cook instead of us jumping in the car to get some fast food on a busy night. FA's have certainly forced me out of my comfort zone in the kitchen (which before kids was to open a box and put it in the microwave) but it is a GOOD thing!"
In the spirit of kitchen bonding, I've included the following recipes that are two of our favorite easy-to-make and relatively healthful treats:
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Craisin Cookies
You can search my blog for dinner ideas, too. I also highly recommend Linda Coss's book "What Else to Eat?" because it has a treasure trove of yummy and healthy allergy-friendly dinner recipes.
What about you? Do you find your family has adapted healthier eating habits because of food allergies?
I think food allergies do result in eating healthier...my kids do not have any food allergies but I do so I watch what I eat and I bake cookies,cakes,etc...I must say my kids love raw veggies w/out dressing and most kids hate veggies
The worry for us is ensuring our son gets enough variety in his diet. We've called about ingredients on certain items, so those are the only items we buy. We have to make sure we keep adding new things, or else he just eats the same things every day.
This is a great point. I've become SUCH a better cook as a food-allergic person, and I think many people would be surprised how much you learn from just perpetually reading ingredients. Like any sort of food-restricted diet, it doesn't HAVE to be healthy, but as a nut-and-peanut allergic lady, most candy bars and commercially baked goods are off limits to me, which has saved me from a lot of nibbling and forced me to get creative in the kitchen.
Agreed, we eat so much healthier, but we do struggle with the variety. When we find something safe we tend to stick with it, and worry about experimenting with new foods more.
The healthy thing goes both ways. One the one hand, if it means you're making most food yourself, then yes. On the other, if (like me) you're going to rely on some packaged foods (like not making your own bread EVERY time), then not necessarily.
I would like to buy my sesame-allergic child some nice wholewheat bread with real ingredients. But I can't. Because the only kind with no cross-contamination concerns has corn syrup. Same with cereals. The organic versions - the healthy stuff? All nut and seed contaminated. I've found with allergies, the bigger the manufacturer, the safer, which often means the MORE processed foods.
So basically for us, it kind of goes both ways.
Great point about the processed foods--I've long been frustrated about organic and less processed foods being loaded with nuts (or nut allergy warnings.)
Food allergies have certainly caused us to eat healthier! Many, many homemade options I have found out are so much better anyway. Plus the avoidance of the drive thru. The close attention to ingredients in everything! Plus, doubling and tripling recipes so we always have something on hand.
Thank you for always encouraging us parents of allergic children. I have a blog award for you over on Hodgepodge: http://www.hodgepodge.me/2011/08/sweet/
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