One of the hardest things about having food allergies and intolerances are that they affect everyone in the family.
I grew up with food issues. I grew up in a family that had others with food issues. I know from experience that it does affect everyone that lives in the same house as the person with the allergy.
It does not matter if it is your spouse, child, or parent that has the allergy. When one person has to change the way they eat, in one way or another, the rest of the family’s eating habits will change also.
I think it is even more difficult when children are involved. My husband understands why I no longer keep bread in the house, but my eight year old son struggles with it. I understand why peanut butter is no longer a staple in our diet, but my ten year old daughter, misses it.
So, how do you meet the needs of the people with the allergies, without totally ignoring the likes and wishes of the others in the house?
Here are a few things that we do.
1. Every few weeks, I let my son pick a treat from the store. It is usually breakfast cereal, since that is one of the things he really misses. I let him choose any kind he wants to. Yes, he often chooses a very unhealthy cereal or snack that I would not usually let him have, but I think it is worth it for this once in a while treat. See that box of cookie crisp? That was his choice this week. He has been eating it as his afternoon snack. I know it is not the healthiest of foods, but he is thrilled with it and it helps him feel like he is not losing all his favorite foods.
2. I have one cupboard that contains all the “special” food. By special food, I mean the food that those without food issues can have. It contains cereal, granola bars, snacks, and even occasionally a loaf of bread. Keeping it all in one cupboard that those of us with food issues never open has helped a lot. If my ten year old does not see a cookie, she is less likely to miss it.
3. My husband and son have no food allergies, so they miss many foods that we no longer keep in the house. One way we have helped make this adjustment, especially for my son, is that my husband takes my son out to eat. Just the two of them will occasionally go out to lunch or dinner. My son gets to choose where he wants to go and they both get to enjoy some of the food they no longer get to eat at home.
4. Eating out is very hard, and often not worth the risk, with all our food allergies, but we have found that eating dessert out is a good option. This way we can each get what we want or can have. We have found that desserts are easier to find things that we can all have, even if it is just vanilla ice cream, it is still something.
5. For my husband it is a little easier for him to “sneak” in the food he misses. He occasionally goes out to lunch. He also keeps a few treats at work. I also try to keep a few things on hand that I know he misses that I can send in his lunch.
Those are a few of the things we have done to help everyone in the family adapt and adjust to our food allergies and issues.
What tips do you have? What have you found that works for you?