About two weeks ago, both my son and I did an allergy test and found out we both have 30+ food we have an allergy or sensitivity to. I knew about most of my allergies, but I was surprised to see new ones on my list (yes, they can just appear like that!). Looking at Ben’s list for the first time was so overwhelming! It is so much easier for us, grown-ups, to deal with a food allergy or sensitivity than for our kids’ to stop eating the foods they are used to, especially if they are picky eaters, which is my son’s case.
I planned to write a blog post about it this week, sharing a bit about food allergy and sensitivity and a few recipes we tried this week and loved (which will come later in another post). I was so excited about writing this post but for some odd reason, I just kept postponing it. So today I said to myself: That’s it! Let’s finish the post and publish it.
I’ve been studying and researching so much about this topic, and there are so many things I want to share with other moms who have been struggling with their kid’s allergies but honestly I feel overwhelmed! Yes, I’m completely overwhelmed, and I just want to cry as I type this to you, moms out there! My heart is racing, and my hands are shaking right now.
In my heart, I desired to write a beautiful, encouraging post, hoping to help other moms to cope with their children’s food allergies and all I can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit whispering to me as I type: “They feel like you too. Moms, who are going through what you are going through, feel just like you do. A bit lost, a bit overwhelmed, a bit confused, not knowing where to begin. If they are not there now, they had been there before!” Moms, I know how you feel, and I want to share my heart, my story and my hope with you today. I also want to share with you a few steps I took these past weeks that helped me to cope with our food allergy and sensitivity life.
To cope = To contend with difficulties and act to overcome.
How do we contend with challenges? We all face obstacles in different ways, and some of us can feel paralyzed when facing hardships, I know I do. With all the faith I have, my brain still goes blank for a few moments or days (as this week have been) until I can focus on how I’m going to overcome this? And this is the key I believe!
What can I do about it? Here is what I want to do: I want to focus on helping myself and my son to overcome food allergy and sensitivity. I want to figure out ways to heal our gut and be healed!! I want to be free to enjoy eating the amazing foods God created to nourish us since the beginning of creation without breaking out in hives, having horrible gut pains and other awful symptoms.
What are food allergies and intolerance? (I hope I can explain this well!)
First of all, let me just make it clear that I’m not a medical doctor, a scientist or a biologist. I’m just a mom who has been trained as a Dr. Sears LEAN Health Coach and has spent a lot of time researching and studying everything I can about nutrition in these past three years and lately, I’ve been reading everything I can about food allergies and sensitivities. Are we clear? Ok then.
Here is my simplified explanation about food allergy and food sensitivity:
When we eat our immune system releases antibodies, some foods can cause antibodies to release antigens or allergens; we call these foods reactive foods when we have an allergy or sensitivity to it. Food allergy is when an immediate reaction occurs caused by the production of an antibody called IgE, and food sensitivity is a delayed reaction caused by the production of another antibody called IgG to some specific foods. So if you have a food allergy, you will react right away after eating it, and if you have a food sensitivity, it can take hours or even days to develop any symptoms making it tough to detect it unless you do an IgG test.
Every person is different and can react differently to each allergy or sensitivity. Allergy symptoms can be manifested right away after eating a reactive food, happen on rare occasions or be life threaten (e.g. peanut allergies). It could display commonly through your skin (hives, eczema), breathing and digestive problems. The difference between food allergies and food sensitivities are the type of antibody produced and the speed of reaction.
Food sensitivity is different. The IgG antibodies attach themselves to the antigen and create an antibody-antigen complex. These complexes are normally removed by special cells called macrophages. If we continue to eat foods we are sensitive to, the number of these antibody-antigen complexes become too large and can’t be removed by the macrophages thus accumulating in body tissues causing inflammation and inflammation can contribute to a variety of diseases and health conditions.
Here are some symptoms of food sensitivity I found: fever, fatigue, chills, sweating, weakness, puffiness, itching, redness, swelling, rashes (including eczema, psoriasis), mood and memory disturbances and behavioral problems, migraines, bronchitis, asthma symptoms, joint pain, muscle stiffness and swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas and bloating.
Ask me how I know all of this? Well, part of it reading about it but most of it by living it on a daily basis. I have a big list of 30+ foods I’m allergic to or sensitive to and so does my 7-year-old son (not as bad as me on the allergy side – thank God!). I’ve struggled with allergies since I was little and apparently it could be an inheritance from my dad’s side of the family, so I’ve done several allergy tests throughout my life.
My worst allergy developed when I was around 24 years old – onions! I’m highly allergic to onions, like peanuts allergy type. Go figure! Since then, I have had some traumatic experiences and many stories to share about it. Every once in a while, I kept finding out more and more foods I was allergic to or sensitive to including bananas, mushroom, tomatoes, soy, corn, peppers and it just snowballed through the years.
I also have digestive and thyroid issues including leaky gut and Hashimoto’s, and I know that all these food allergies and sensitivities contributed to it. Now you know why I decided to become a health coach and learn as much about nutrition and digestion as I could. I’m currently attending Dr. Axe’s Institute of Nutritional Leadership, and I’m confident that education is key to our healing process.
So the big question is: what can we do?
First, talk to your doctor! If you suspect you have a food allergy or sensitivity, please, by all means, let your doctor know as soon as possible. No one better than your doctor will be able to help you, so we hope. Get tested! In the meanwhile, I think it’s a good idea to keep a food journal to track down any unusual reaction to foods you might have. If you think, for example, that dairy is a problem for you, try to eliminate it for a week or two and see if the symptoms disappear. An elimination diet comes handy with any suspicion of allergy or sensitivity to foods.
Once you have a diagnosis from your doctor, then is time to create a plan! He or she will give you the directions you need to help you cope and hopefully treat the issue.
Here are some steps that have helped me to deal with our food allergy and sensitivity life:
- Make a List (or two!) – We have a list on our refrigerator with all foods we are allergic or sensitive to. I hope your case is nothing like ours. If the list is too big and overwhelming, then make a second list of everything you can eat freely – that will help you focus on the positive and help you feel better. Also, this will give you lots of options for a meal plan later.
- Learn to Read Labels – Food labels can be overwhelming at first but learning to read it is something I will be forever grateful to my training at the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. I read every label and avoid everything I can that I know it’s not good for my family or me. Look carefully at the ingredient list to see if what you are allergic or sensitive to is in that product. Unfortunately, some ingredients can be hidden and not listed on the label but you will start to learn where and how. I do teach how to read labels as part of my Dr. Sears LEAN Start e-course.
- Clean Your Pantry – Now that you have your list ready, start a scavenger hunt! You can involve the kids and have fun while cleaning out the pantry. Take the boxes, cans, and packages out and read their labels! Tossing out what is not good and starting an allergy-free pantry will make it easy for you to cook and bake safely for your family. It’s not worth keeping foods in the house that can compromise your health or the health of one of your children. (Prior to the opening of my next e-course class, I will be doing a 7 Day Ultimate Pantry Makeover – it will be so much fun if you join us! Again, make sure you subscribe to our newsletter.)
- Make An Inventory – You tossed some stuff out your pantry and hopefully out from your fridge too. Now it’s a good time to write down an inventory of everything you have available to make meals with and make a shopping list of what you need as well.
- Create a Meal Plan – A plan always makes me feel like I’m in control of things. Use the inventory you’ve done to brainstorm a few meals for your family. You can download a FREE meal planning printable with an inventory and a shopping list here. Having a meal plan will bring part of your sanity back. I was totally lost until I had a few meals written down I knew my son, and I could safely enjoy the rest of the family.
Plan Meals like a Pro in 10 Minutes/Week!
Download this "What's on the Menu?" printable now!
- Go Shopping – I’m sure after cleaning out your pantry and creating a meal plan, you have noticed a few ingredients missing in your pantry, perhaps you now have to go gluten-free and need to substitute some of the ingredients that were once a staple in your home. With a list in hands and a plan in mind, grocery shopping will be much easier.
- Go Surf – Not that kind of surfing! The internet has great resources to help you living an allergy-free life. I’m so thankful for all the bloggers that paved the way for us by sharing their tips, recipes, stories and their healing journey. We are not alone! You will find great communities out there to help encourage and support you on this journey, and I hope our blog will be one of them.
Dear friend, I hope this post has helped you, and if it did, please let me know by commenting bellow! Life with food allergies and sensitivities feels overwhelming at first, but it gets better. I promise you.
As you eliminate the foods that harm you, your gut will begin to heal, and symptoms will ease out. Also, I want you to know that God is still in control. He doesn’t want us to carry this overwhelming feeling on our shoulders. We are not alone. Let’s give Him the heavy load right now and trade it for His perfect peace.
Trust in Him.
Despite all overwhelming feeling I had this week, my son and I had a blast together. We bought new allergy-free cookbooks, searched for recipes online and created our yummy allergy-free recipes as well. Here are some pictures of the breakfast meals we made, approved and shared on my Instagram this week:
If you need a jumpstart and an elimination diet, download my FREE Spring Cleanse! 35 pages of valuable information, tips and recipes. Look for the sign-up box bellow this post!
YOUR TURN: I would love to hear about your food allergy and sensitivity story and how you have been coping through this journey. Have a favorite allergy-free recipe to share with us? Please comment bellow. If you are a blogger, you can Follow my blog with Bloglovin.
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Ana is the unhurried homeschool mom of 3, wife, health coach, social media and online marketing strategist, and blogger. She loves to encourage, inspire and empower moms to go from stressed to blessed by providing them with the tips, strategies, and resources they need to succeed. Ana is the founder of They Call Me Blessed and the creator of 5 Days to Your Best Homeschool Years, Grow Your Blog Partying in 30 Days, and the Beyond Blessed Life Planners. She leads a vibrant online community for moms on Facebook and you can connect with her at www.facebook.com/theycallmeblessedblog.