It’s actually easier than you think. We’re sort of forced to do so, which is what I realized as I wrote what began as an email reply to reader. Amanda wrote and asked:
Hi! I just stumbled across your blog while researching Classical Conversations and from your title I am assuming you have a peanut allergy in the family? I also notice you do a lot of organic/no dyes/healthier eating and I was wondering how you manage with the peanut allergy? Thanks!
At first I giggled at the thought of us being “healthier” eaters (maybe that’s why she said “-ier” instead of “-y,” hahaha, spot on!) recalling how I watched Rhys chomp down on a piece of cold pizza for his breakfast yesterday morning. We don’t actually know what’s in the crust, we just assume they don’t grind up peanuts and put them in there. If they offered any kind of peanut toppings I’d be leery. Side note: we don’t eat at Chinese places anymore, except for PF Changs and their spin-off, Pei Wei because they provided us with a list of dishes that contain peanuts. PF Changs will do this for any food allergy – just ask, very cool!
We have two in the family with peanut/tree nut allergies and one is also allergic to coconut – wish I’d known that before I let him eat half a bag of that dried kind from Costco! No adverse reaction though, so that’s good. Both of my little allergens are the boys (almost 8 and almost 6). Our daughter can eat anything but I am actually horrified to give her nuts even though rationally I *know* she is fine based on skin tests and blood work. I guess I’ve just had “no nuts” driven into my brain for so long it’s hard to think the other way. Plus it’s dangerous to feed her something nutty since she’s around them, likes to touch them, lick, not sure what all else, etc.
I did not *think* it was difficult to manage feeding them until we tried going gluten free. OH. MY. GOSH. There is basically one brand of flour that I’d have to mix together along with xantham gum (which has not come yet – hope it’s nut-free) to make any kind of bread/crust/muffin unless I want to buy Namaste and pay $7 a box for a mix that makes 12 muffins or one loaf of bread. Uh, no. I made muffins from the mix once, which I thought was pretty good, maybe a bit chewy, and they ate the tops off and left the bottoms. Coincidentally, I’d sprinkled turbinado sugar on top. Weird how they just ate that part, hmm.
We do no food dyes because it makes my oldest hyperactive. Not in that “boyhood energy” type way, but in that, “This child needs a hamster wheel,” kind of way. It doesn’t really seem to effect my middle or youngest, but they still don’t need dyes regardless. We never gave them juice or soda to drink before I cut out food colorings, so I didn’t have to worry about eliminating any beverages. Instead I started looking at the backs of cans and boxes and buying them lollipops from Whole Foods. One advantage of the peanut allergy is that they really can’t eat any kind of candy bar/chocolate – everything has nuts or is made in a nut facility. They’re weirdly understanding about this, so I figure if we buy them some unreasonably priced suckers every now and then we’re actually spending less than most Americans do on candy for their kids. We are (fortunately?) forced to eat a healthy-ish diet. The downside to the no-dye thing is that you do pay more for things like boxed mac and cheese (I’ve just started making my own with noodles and Kerry Gold Dubliner cheese) or anything made by Annie’s, which they do not like – save the mac and cheese. It kept getting more expensive on Amazon Subscribe and Save so I cancelled it in lieu of homemade.
Other things: As I said, we buy Dubliner cheese and cut it off in slices for sandwiches, it is made by the same company that makes Kerry Gold butter and is an extremely good cheese. I buy Boar’s Head sliced deli meat because it is nitrite-free and waaay better than that stuff in plastic (noo plastic either) boxes. I try to give them the Cascadian Farms (?) version of fruit loops for breakfast, or I’ve started making smoothies with frozen berries, milk and raw honey. I have been guilty lately of buying Frosted Mini Wheats which breaks so many rules, but at least it’s dye-free. Somehow chocolate Cheerios keep finding their way to the pantry…not the best choice but the cereal fairy can’t be stopped completely, I suppose. I’m a libertarian after all, far be it from me to limit another adult from what they buy for breakfast. But maybe they could disguise it in a box of Grape Nuts?
I have to use dye and scent-free laundry detergent on them because they have really bad eczema and any sort of scent makes their skin break out. I use those wool balls in the dryer instead of dryer sheets. Love those things. The one oddity that sticks out is that the only soap they can tolerate is Dove unscented. I tried switching out all our soaps for Dr. Bronner’s (because why NOT go whole hog and completely restock all your soaps before you’ve even tried Dr. B’s?) and got the Baby Bronner’s for them but it burned their skin. I kind of scoffed because they can be dramatic and I have no idea where that came from, but I have some eczema on my hand, so I lathered up and WOW. Burned like fire. So, we can’t even use hemp-based non-soap soap that’s supposed to leave the natural oils in your skin which is exactly what they need. The only thing that’s worked is Dove soap and prescription strength steroid cream which I hate using on them but nothing – literally nothing – else ever has. I have tried coconut oil and wondered why it made Henry worse (gee, maybe because he’s allergic to it!), essential oils with a special eczema synergy blend, Vanicream which is suppose to fix everything because it’s parabens, phlalate, on and on and on-free but it burned their skin too. ARGH. Egyptian Magic and Blessed Bees (something something) work well but they are so.expensive. And Dave doesn’t show any discretion when digging in that jar to slather them up. I’ll get a jar of Egyptian Magic and after one bath, 1/4th of the tub is gone. Fail.
I’m going NOW to look up and possibly join a CSA. We have a juicer but I’d rather get all the fiber and bulk from the produce if we juice any so I might look at a Ninja for a Mother’s Day gift, though I really *wanted* another piece of Le Creuset. I have absolutely LOVED my dutch oven. It really does make a difference what you cook with – it distributes the heat so evenly and the for always tastes wonderful. Still haven’t made my loaf of bread in it yet, though! I’ll try that when my xantham gum arrives.
ALSO!! Please check the sidebar! I am fundraising for therapeutic massages for orphans in war-torn Ukraine. These kiddos were bed-ridden but because of the massage treatment, they are learning to WALK, they are happier, more interactive and have a much better quality of life! Therapeutic massage is healing for the body AND mind! Help bring some joy to these little ones and just think – your donation may help one of these bedridden cutie pies get up and DANCE!! Just watch and I dare you not to smile!
Please donate today, these children need these services and you can help them feel sooooo much better! With the power of a click, you can help an orphan go from listless to happy, smiling and relaxed. Please visit my Crowdrise page here to donate. I am working with Maya’s Hope, a wonderful foundation that gives aid to orphans in need in the Ukraine and the Philippines. Visit her page as well to see the HOPE she is giving orphans – personally! – in these countries.