May was Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, but awareness is an everyday thing for many people, including our new friend Tracy Bush. Continue below to read Tracy’s story and her advice for living with food allergies.
Food Allergies- Rip Open the Box
By Tracy Bush Nutrimom® – Food Allergy Liaison
“Here is your prescription for an auto injector. We will see you in one year.” This is how our food allergy diagnosis experience began. No guidance. No support. No direction on how to go food shopping. And certainly, no warning about how to cook safely. There was just a wave of fear and not knowing- not knowing about food, not knowing about reading labels, nothing. It felt like a black hole.
That was fifteen years ago. Now, I welcome the opportunity to see what I can do with an allergy-friendly product. I am overjoyed when a company asks if I want to try something of theirs. Most of all, I love how my brain has transformed to help me pull foods apart and put them back together in ways that I would never have done without my son’s food allergy diagnosis. I am not a professional chef but I do have a decent amount of experience under my belt to make me feel as if I have earned the title. Unlike that first day, I don’t end my day feeling hopeless- I end my day with visions of recipes, food photos and check lists of items that I want to try out.
Many people are devastated by a food allergy diagnosis but I have embraced it. Growing up, I didn’t know that cooking from scratch didn’t mean opening a box or a can. I didn’t know that our foods could be so much better for us. But then I had a child with food allergies and this changed me, us. Our family went from buying bulk items of processed foods to feeling guilty when we did. It was not an easy process and it did not happen overnight but looking back, I know that it certainly gave us a better understanding of how our foods should be. Looking back, I don’t like what we were eating before and I take pride in feeding my family the way that we do now.
Food is family- think about it. Birthdays, graduations, ceremonies, milestones, even family get togethers- it all revolves are food. People of all cultures do this. So how do you still enjoy your food when a food allergy diagnosis means food becomes the enemy? How do you combat the fears of “What if” and “Don’t eat that!”?
- Take a deep breath There will be good days and bad days, just as there are without food allergies. You must prepare yourself and stay in control, as much as you can. If you are not in control, you cannot safely be helping others as well.
- Research This is the part that may drive you a little bonkers. This is also the part that (I found) was missing after our initial diagnosis. But it is absolutely necessary so do it until you feel that you cannot do it anymore. Then do it again (like I shared here).
- Remember to Laugh Laughter is essential- it will get you through the darkest days and the darkest moments. Remember that it’s ok to laugh at yourself, at the recipes that flopped and anything else that keeps your morale upbeat. Laughing is not a weakness, it is a superpower.
- Rip Open the Box This is the fun part! Don’t be afraid to try new things with your allergy-friendly products. As I always tell people- “It’s YOUR kitchen, there are no rules. You are not limited by your foods, only your knowledge on how to use them.” Need an example?
Click here for the tutorial.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely days that seem darker than some and food allergies can be scary, confusing and upsetting. The flip side is that they can be the beginning of a new chapter in your life that you didn’t even know you would enter until then. Through the worst days, you will meet the most amazing, supportive people. Through the research, you will begin to understand why knowing more about your foods is so very important, food allergies or not. Through all of the recipes that you try, fail and succeed, you will find new ways to use your kitchen techniques and push them beyond what any typical cooking class will teach you. Above all, you will stretch your heart and your mind to places that only some are lucky enough to reach.
Tracy is a Food Allergy Consultant, Author, Blogger, Mother & Self-professed “Kitchen Geek. Her website AllergyPhoods and media pages are a mixture of articles, product reviews, recipe creations, and advice mixed with a tinge of humor. She strives to help her community in any way that she can. “I write, I cook and I laugh and I aim to make everyone else do the same”.