Sunday, June 28, 2009

Food Allergies, ADHD and life in the real world, cont'd

The ongoing saga of Food Allergies...

How do you deal with the normal day-to-day life that is America these days when you have a child that *really* shouldn't be eating "normal" food at all? Its not like you can pop into McDonald's and get an organic scrambled egg on a wholewheat tortilla with raw cheddar on the way to piano lessons. Here where we live, its a little easier. There are caf├ęs with organic foods and whole foods and I can make it work, if I am willing to pay for it. And I do mean PAY for it. But might I remind you that this is the blog of a stay-at-home mom? You know, one-income family?? Those places are usually not an option, even on our best day. So I do a lot of cooking. I make whole wheat tortillas by the dozen...regularly. We grow a garden to obtain as much "free" organic produce as possible. We raise chickens for the organic and humanely raised eggs. We do what we can, but it still doesn't erase the fact that the bank drive thru always puts a corn syrup and food dye laden treat in the money envelope and the grocery store bakery has a bin of free cookies when you walk by. Other well-meaning people are always offering a cookie or treat to my son. They usually ask if its okay, but at this point my son already sees the treat and knows he can't have it. Its frustrating really, but he knows what will happen and so do I. Sometimes we do let him have some "junk" as we so lovingly refer to it. And he "freaks out", as he puts it. He will be invited to a birthday party and will have some cake, maybe without the icing or take home the goody bag and keep some of the candy. Its an ongoing process. It seems like everyday has a challenge or two. You have to be prepared at all times to provide a safe alternative if you want to stick to it. I suppose we are blessed in that we don't have severe reactions that require medical attention. And, since we homeschool, I don't have to medicate him to make a learning environment for 20 other children. Its just us and we make it work.

There are those frustrating moments though. Recently I discovered that his allergies were not taken seriously by some of my family. They didn't see a change in his personality when they slipped him some sugar, so maybe I was over-reacting. Actually, they didn't get to see my "overreaction" because I chomped down on my tongue and wrote it off to another day in the trenches. We moms of kids with food allergies have to fight our battles. That week, my son had had piles of no-no's at various times. At his birthday party just two days prior, we really went off the deep end and he was still coming off the effects of that, so perhaps there really wasn't a huge change; you know, from bad to worse? But for whatever reason some people just think you are imagining it when you, as the mother, see them change before your eyes due to a food allergen. So that afternoon he unknowingly had some sugar, went crazy soon after and then came home and was sick. He ended up with a bad headache, went to bed early and woke up with dark circles under his eyes. But of course, that was my imagination. So I asked if perhaps the sugar-free dessert wasn't really sugar free. It wasn't sugar-free they admitted but they didn't see any change and it was only a little sugar... you see, you have to remember...it was just my imagination.

That morning I decided we would go back to strictly non-allergen foods. No more walks on the wild side for a while. It will be BYOF from now on. I am happy to report that he's back to himself and feeling pretty good after only a week. The temptations to stray from the eating plan are there daily. I try my best to fill him with healthy whole foods and make him special treats as often as I can. As for eating out, we have discovered a few things we can eat safely. A thin crust pizza at Pizza Hut with only veggies, traditional sauce and light cheese works. A fast-food salad or fruit cup with a juice box is good and if all else fails, we brown bag whatever part he can't eat there. Its not like we eat out all the time. We can't! But the occasional need to is easier once you research your options and plan ahead.

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