Diary Of An Allergy Mom: What I Feed My Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Peanut- And Tree-nut Free Toddler. Oh, She Also Doesn’t Eat Meat.
It’s Food Allergy Awareness Week, and I can’t think of a more perfect opportunity to tell this story.
When we started introducing my oldest child to solids, I would always joke: “I hope she’s not allergic to strawberries, because here we go.”
“Is she allergic to eggs? I guess we about to see.”
It was playful, and thankfully she didn’t develop any food allergies. So I kept it going with my next child.
There we were, sitting around the table about to dig into some creamy seafood chowder. I kept the joke going with my then 12-month-old: “I hope she’s not allergic to shrimp because here we go.”
Then, she started breaking out all over her hands and face.
She didn’t even eat any shrimp — she simply played around with the biscuit that was soaking in a chowder full of crustaceans, milk and fish. In moments, the tiny red bumps had inflated into these huge welts across her hands, face, neck. Her eyes were so puffy!
We were all horrified. People were still pandemic panic buying at this point, so my husband had to visit three drug stores before finding children’s Benadryl.
My oldest Phoenix pretty accurately captured our emotions that night: “That is the saddest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
The next steps were allergy blood and skin tests, which determined Luna had a host of food allergies. On top of that, our family practiced a pescatarian diet. I knew this was about to be a challenge.
But after talking to a dietitian, preparing meals ahead of time and having thorough conversations with her daycare teachers when I was ready for her to go back, it hasn’t been so bad.
And the child eat, eat! She doesn’t miss any meals, and it shows. She’s a super foodie just like her mother.
She loved her Christmas dinner of black beans, sweet potatoes, maple brussel sprouts and vegan, gluten-free cornbread. She’ll tear up a plate of black-eyed peas over quinoa with a side of steamed green beans. Oh, can’t forget the fruit.
Here is what I serve to make sure my meat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, peanut- and tree-nut free toddler gets what she needs. I mix it up as much as I can, while also remembering to include something she is for sure fond of when trying new combinations and recipes.
Whole grain rice, gluten-free pasta, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes
(bc I know y’all care so much about this one)
Potatoes, chickpeas, beans of all kinds, peas, quinoa, oatmeal, spinach, broccoli, tofu, tempeh
Steamed anything (broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, peas). I like to add this vegan chicken boulion cube and veggie broth to season them. Raw tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes. Roasted squash and vegetable medley.
Berries, bananas, peaches, strawberries, pears, sliced grapes, mangoes, melons, raisins. I typically gets what’s in season or what’s on sale, so it could vary even further than what’s listed.
Gluten-free graham crackers, popcorn, Cherrios, Chex, fruit, fruit cups, squash crackers, applesauce, rice cakes. Snacks are tough with a gluten-free, dairy-free kid, but she doesn’t know any better. Most stores now have a variety of allergy-friendly bars that are pretty low in sugar.
For more information on your own child’s nutrition, consult a pediatric dietician of your choice. Some of these items are considered chocking hazards for young children, but I have experience in modifying to suit her age and am comfortable doing so.