When you have multiple food allergies and you are trying to figure out what to eat, feels like pulling down a slot machine at SlotoCash Casino. Maybe you will hit the jackpot and be able to eat without a reaction, and maybe not.
A lot of people end up going back to basics.
My allergies were soy, corn, milk, and eggs. Trying to find preprocessed food that did not have any of those ingredients was almost impossible. But this is what I learned, and I survived.
First step is obviously going to be figuring out what you can eat, including derivatives.
Buy a bread maker
Nothing feels better than being able to take a bite into freshly made bread. Yum. You choose whatever flour you want (wheat, corn, rice, oat). You choose the oils. You make your creations. Not just white bread, but also quick breads, bagels, pretzels, pizza dough. All yummy.
Get a membership to a bulk store: Cosco or even Restaurant Depot
When you go back to the basics, including making your own bread, you are going to go through a lot of flour. My family was buying 50 lb bags of flour, 2 lb packages of sugar, as well as large quantities of other basic ingredients.
Plus, stores like Restaurant Depot have better quality cooking supplies than you will find at your local Target or Walmart store.
Become a label reading expert
In the beginning, when you go grocery shopping, go with a lot of patience, and go without the kids. Your beginning shopping trips are going to take a lot more time as you try to figure out what brands don’t have any hidden ingredients that you cannot eat. Sometimes an ingredient like corn can be listed under 20 different names, when you take into account all of the corn derivatives in foods.
Cheat for milk allergies
Observant Jews don’t mix milk and meat together. There are kosher certification companies that mark all of their food as either containing meat (if it is obvious, they don’t mark it as such), contains milk, or does not contain milk or meat. Usually if the kosher symbol has a “D” next to the kosher symbol, it means that the food contains dairy in it.
Cheat for soy allergies
If there is a “P” next to the kosher symbol, it means that it is for Passover. That is important if you have soy allergies, because a lot of Jews do not eat soy during Passover.
Skin Prick allergy test, why it might be better than a blood test
Food allergy blood tests test for true food allergies — someone having an anathraxic reaction or skin reactions. If your reactions are gastro-intestinal reactions, you are better off with a skin prick test. The skin prick test is more sensitive, so sometimes people complain that there are false positives.
Learn how to do a controlled food challenge
My recommendation is to eliminate the items anyway for at least 2 weeks, then you can do a controlled food challenge. But you can only do a controlled food challenge after you have gotten your body to be “reaction free”. Then you do a controlled test for a specific food item to see if your body does a reaction.
Learn how to use ‘ingredient include’ and ‘exclude’ for food recipes
A lot of food recipe sites allow you do a search by doing a food include or food exclude. Also, a lot of times people will write how they modified a recipe in the comments. My husband hates that people do this, but I have found these comments at times very useful.
Buy a notebook with page protectors to make your own cookbook
After trial and error, you are going to find your favorite recipes. It will make things easier to keep the best ones in 3 ring binder inside page protectors. It makes it easy to add and remove recipes, and it protects the recipes from food spills.
Learn how to do ingredient substitution
There are books that have published this information, as well as websites that have published this information. Not all ingredients are a straight substitution. 1 cup of margarine or butter equals ¾ cup of oil, due to there not being any air in the oil.
Plus, although cakes can handle oil being substituted for butter, it does not always work for cookies.
Learn the basics of canning
I never actually learned how to do canning that involves boiling the jar to get a proper seal. For everything that I wanted to can, I learned that I could just freeze the jars and it would be fine. I didn’t need to store the jars for years at a time. I just needed to be able to cook a large batch of something like pizza sauce at one time and freeze the extras in jars.
My personal favorite mason jars are the wide mouth mason jars that are 24 ounces and straight. These jars can handle being frozen, my preferred method of canning.
I also prefer the white plastic lids. These lids can handle being frozen, but you cannot use them for boil canning.
Invest in a chest freezer
Chest freezers have a lot more space than a regular stand up freezer, and they are a lot cheaper for the size you get for your money. The freezer that I brought had baskets inside of them, to help make it easier to organize the freezer. I special ordered 2 extra baskets, so it gave me three whole layers for the freezer all of the way across. To get to the other levels, I would just remove a basket, get what I needed, and put the basket back in.
If you have the room, store the freezer near the kitchen. These freezers are strong, so the top of the freezer can also function as a place to put things down on.
Have a whole lot of patience
As they say, “All beginnings are hard”, but it will get easier as time goes on. You will learn which brands of food you can eat. You will learn which stores sell which brands. You will learn how to manage your shopping.
Eventually, things will become second nature, and life will go on.