Allergy is a complex subject, defined many ways. I have hay fever and eczema caused by allergies. I can’t eat gluten or dairy because of food intolerances. My kids all have food intolerances and environmental allergies that make them ill.
After testing us like crazy, our family’s allergist concluded that none of us has “true” food allergies (the life-threatening kind that could put us into anaphylactic shock). Yet he also told us to treat our food intolerances as “allergies” because they can make us very ill. And we all have to avoid environmental allergens, such as mold, pollen, dust mites and dust. We’re also sensitive to food additives and household chemicals including fragrances.
I define an “allergy friendly” diet as one that avoids all foods that can make you or your child sick. Every recipe on this blog is free of gluten and dairy, but that’s only the beginning for my family, since we have sensitivities to other foods, such as eggs and peanuts. (This blog doesn’t address life-threatening food “allergies” which must be treated by licensed medical professionals.) An allergy friendly home is free of chemicals and other allergens (such as pollen and mold) that can make you or your child feel ill.
How does one navigate allergies and intolerances? I’m still learning, but I’ve learned a few rules along the way:
- The first rule is to be flexible and adapt to whatever happens next. I probably had gluten intolerance when I was younger (I always had headaches after meals), but I didn’t find out about it until my child was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity. I didn’t develop eczema until after my third child was born. Now, I avoid gluten and use only natural products in my house and on my skin.
- The second rule is to listen to your body. I can’t eat pears, which make my mouth prickle, yet allergy tests show no allergy to pears. One of my children “outgrew” a severe milk allergy, yet doesn’t drink milk products out of concern the allergy may come roaring back.
- The third rule is to be absolutely strict about avoiding the foods and chemicals that make you or your children feel ill. I spent far too much time allowing my gluten-sensitive child to eat foods containing just a “little bit” of gluten. That was dumb.
- The fourth rule is to view an “allergy friendly” diet and home as a healthy alternative, not a deprivation. We don’t eat ice cream, but we eat wonderful frozen desserts that are fabulously delicious. I don’t use scented candles, but love the fragrance of beeswax candles. Life is all about appreciating what you have.
When in doubt, leave it out — of your diet or your home — to keep your family safe and healthy. That’s what “allergy friendly” means to me.