The kids have food sensitivities in varying degrees, ranging from mild itchy skin to anaphylaxis.
William is allergic to all nuts, (bar almonds and hazelnuts), kiwi, sesame, cabbage and apples – thankfully he has now outgrown his allergy to wheat, egg, dairy and soy. He also has asthma and multiple severe environmental allergies, including cold urticaria. Harry has outgrown his food allergies and is now only intolerant to wheat, but has severe chemical allergies. Ellie is allergic to wheat, eggs, dairy, mustard and watermelon. She has outgrown her allergies to strawberries, tomatoes, capsicum and can also now tolerate small amounts of soy and spelt. For her first 2 years she reacted not only if she ate these allergens, but also if they touched her skin, or if I ate them, then breastfeed her, or even if someone has eaten them and kissed her. She also has multiple environmental allergies. By some miracle George is free of allergies – praise God!
We have had a challenging and sometimes very frustrating few years with eating, both for the kids and me. I was on the same restricted diet as the kids while I breastfed, as they react to the foods just being present in my milk.
It took a long time and numerous GP visits with my first son’s skin bleeding in many places before I was finally referred to a paediatric allergist. Mercifully he was very quick to act and help us with diet and skin treatment. Within a week of our new diet my son looked like a new boy! Harry and Ellie both followed the exact same pattern and showed up with allergies again by 5-6 weeks of age – at least we knew what to do for them, and after strict elimination diets and allergy tests they were on the mend too. We have all had to learn how to eat differently, how to use epi-pens and to make sure we are always carrying antihistamines and to follow a careful skin care regime, including bleach baths.
For 3 years our family lived in Roxby Downs – in the South Australian desert. While it was a great place to live for little kids – it was definitely not an easy place to live with food allergies! We had 1 supermarket with very limited stock of ‘alternative’ foods, and no markets, health food stores or bulk buying places. So there have been very many times when I felt frustrated to the point of tears and limited in my cooking for my family. We have now moved back to Perth and I am very excited about the world of extra food options that have opened up for us!! Hello markets and bulk buy stores!
My friend, and co-creator of the Itchin’ Kitchen, Libby, understood my frustration, also having kids with multiple food allergies, so we have been sharing ideas and recipes for years. Her family have moved on to mostly ‘normal’ food now so she is leaving the Itchin’ Kitchen (Bye Lib – and thank you!!).
As well as as cooking for allergies, I am passionate about good nutrition, and am currently studying for a diploma in Nutrition advice.
I plan to reduce food waste and stretch our budget, whilst still providing nourishing food for my large (well, larger than average!) family. We aim to eat foods that are fairly low in added sugar, and opt for unrefined flours when ever possible. I also enjoy experimenting with vegan alternatives.
I use many different methods to cook our food: stand mixers, food processors, thermal cookers, by hand, stove top, oven and slow cookers.
I hope and pray that as I continue to share these recipes and ideas, they might help you feel like there is hope too, if you are dealing with similarly difficult diets.