A to Z Learn Something New Every Day

 

SPECIAL DIETARY NEEDS

Hey everyone, it’s that enviable time for every blogger when a guest writer takes over for a day and gives said blogger a much desired (if not necessarily needed) break. Not to mention, that when you get an expert in the field you were hoping to learn about… BONUS!!! So without further ado I give you Lisa from The Meaning of Me. I will let her do the talking, but take my word for it… it’s worth the listen! ~Ivy

Raising a child is a permanent learning process.

To say my Husband and I learn something new every day is a gross understatement. From the moment our daughter was born, we have been learning. We learned how to clip baby toenails, her secret sign that tells us we are 36 hours from ear infection, how much bubble bath is too much, and whether a rash is worthy of a call to the pediatrician.

Of all the things we have learned as parents, one of the most detailed has been how to feed our child. Getting nourishment into your child should be a relative no-brainer. Parents have been feeding their young since the beginning of human existence. So far, we hae managed to survive. The human race has not died off from lack of ability to find food for the young of the species. It’s instinct  – animals do it, too – and for a large part of the earth’s history, no one needed a parenting book or a nutrition label to do it.

But things change.

Early Modern Humans were likely not concerned with things like allergens or preservatives. They did not wonder about the sugar content or genetic modification of their breakfast cereal. How and what we eat has evolved, just as we have. For better or worse, our foods are a far cry from the simple diet of our early ancestors.

Over a period of time, we learned that our daughter has strong adverse reactions to artificial food dyes. I won’t detail it all here. (If you’re interested, you can contact me via Ivy or my blog.)

That was the easy part of this learning adventure.

The next level of our education required that we find a new way to select our daughter’s foods. I am not here to either discuss or recommend any particular “diet” to you. There are dozens of options out there,  and every person has to find the eating plan that works for them. My goal here is to share with you how we learned to detect, avoid, and replace the food additives that we did not want our daughter to consume. Our particular scenario is about artificial coloring. Much of what we have learned is also applicable to other food sensitivities and allergies.

One of the first things we had to learn was where food dyes lurk. The short answer? Everywhere. It is amazing where artificial food coloring likes to hang out. We soon became experts on finding the dyes on the ingredient lists. We learned to spot the obvious ones – red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6 – as well as more vague words such as “artificial coloring” or “coloring.”

We learned to scan labels for the “good” coloring – terms like “natural coloring” are helpful. Words like “beet juice” or “spinach extract for color” are pretty specific. But we also found words like “carmine” and “annatto” on labels. We researched those, too, so we knew exactly what they were.

We learned that you can not make assumptions about whether a dye does – or does not – exist in a particular food. We learned to always assume we are dealing with an offending dye until we investigate and determine otherwise.

We learned that our supermarket’s website provides label and packaging information including ingredient lists. We still spend a fair amount of time reading labels in the aisles, but this website feature has saved us hours of guesswork – and footwork.

We learned about particular brands and products – more than we ever imagined possible. We can tell you which variety of a particular major macaroni and cheese product line is “safe” for our daughter and which is not.  We learned which food brands are safe across the board.

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We learned to ask questions. This happens mainly in situations where we eat away from home. If we are not sure of ingredients, we ask. We have learned about the products and ingredients restaurants use and know which belong on our “safe” list.

We learned that higher-quality restaurants tend to be better options when eating away from home. These places tend to have fresher ingredients and fewer pre-made products. An inexpensive chain simply won’t have the tools to offer you something out of the ordinary or off the menu. A restaurant that shops daily for ingredients and has fresh, whole foods on hand can do amazing things.

We learned that the more people who are aware of our daughter’s food needs, the more they can help.

We learned that most people are willing to help. Classroom moms and cafeteria staff at our daughter’s school provide us with food information and look out for her. Servers and managers in restaurants are happy to check ingredient lists and talk with us about their food.  Even our daughter’s friends keep an eye on her.

We learned that our daughter has to be able to make choices for herself when we are not with her. She knows how to read food labels. She learned which ingredients are on her “safe” list and which are not. She learned to ask an adult in charge if she needs help deciding what.

We learned that there is a substitute for just about everything – or at least something close. It is rare that we don’t find something to use or provide for our daughter when there is something she can’t have.We have even found safe food coloring made from vegetable extracts.

We learned that the more people who are aware of our daughter’s food needs, the more they can help. We learned that most people are willing to help. Classroom moms and cafeteria staff at our daughter’s school provide us with food information and look out for her. Servers and managers in restaurants are happy to check ingredient lists and talk with us about their food.  Even our daughter’s friends keep an eye on her

We learned how to eat better as a family. Because of the foods our daughter has to avoid, my Husband and I avoid them as well. It just makes sense. As a rule, we choose whole, organic, and unprocessed foods as often as possible. We learned that these better eating habits benefit us all in many ways.

If you have stuck with me this far, thank you! And thank you to Ivy for sharing her space with me today! I could go on for many more words, but this is already quite a lot of information. I am always happy to share what we have learned about food dyes, substitutions, and more. If you have any questions, I’ll be glad to talk with you.

 

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Lisa is a wife, mother, and newly self-employed recovering high school English teacher. She lives with her Fab Hub, her daughter Kidzilla, and three Rotten Cats. She spends her time stacking the pile of books to read ever higher, wondering if she should have been a chef, and trying to figure out where she last left her damn cell phone. Lisa blogs about life and all its fascinations and banalities at the The Meaning of Me.

 

 

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19 thoughts on “A to Z Learn Something New Every Day

  1. You lucky duck, getting Lisa to write a post for you. But I would have assigned her x day. 🙂
    Lisa, you are very blessed to be surrounded by people who are conscious of and willing to help with your daughter’s dietary needs. I’m happy for you.

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    1. All she had to do was ask…I could have tackled your X day. I love a good challenge.
      We really are blessed to have so many eyes helping our. It has been a very positive experience for Zilla so far and that is the real blessing. She sees this as something that’s special and unique about her and quite enjoys taking her special foods along to Bible School, etc. so she can participate in everything like the rest and not just sit on the sidelines.
      For one activity last summer, they made happy faces out cookies, icing, red Twizzlers, and M&M’s. We found organic cookies and homemade icing with no high-fructose corn syrup (also an issue for her), organic licorice and chocolate candy drops with no junk ingredients and no dyes. No problem. Sure, it’s extra effort on our end, but it’s worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Food allergies are a huge issue. I’m so glad you wrote this. I worked in a peanut-free school. The cheaper, holiday candy always was made on equipment that also processed foods containing peanuts. The Director, gave a one small candy heart to an allergic child and the child got hives all over his face. His mom and dad were very angry (I don’t blame them). They thought there child was safe in a peanut-free environment and the Director failed to comply because it was a holiday. We are all better off eating organic, minimally processed food. Great post, Lisa.

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    1. Thanks, Val. There are so many allergies and sensitivities out there that you really have to think before giving out food. Our school has become pretty strict about the food rules. No outside food for class parties, kids are not to share food at lunch, etc. Some people complain, probably because they have fond memories of their own childhood and all those treats. But it makes sense to have the room moms in charge of the food that comes in – they can monitor and look out for the kids who have particular needs. Zilla’s room moms are great – there are several kids in our class with a thing and they always share party food lists, etc. And not sharing at lunch makes sense – it’s nice to share, but with all the food allergy potential, it’s just smarter to eliminate the problem.
      Glad you came over!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I sent you a text, and that was my main reply/question. But I’ll also tell you how I much I admire you for investigating this so thoroughly and sticking to it so well. Food limitations feel so overwhelming and impossible to manage to me.

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    1. Yes, I got it. 🙂 Thanks for saying that. Sometimes it does feel overwhelming – and that overwhelm is a big problem for me with my ADHD, as you know. But maybe it was the parent part that kicked in and took over or maybe it was just that I am a learner by nature – I love the process of learning. I didn’t want her left out of things like Bible school snack or classroom parties or birthday parties, so I needed options for her. We learned one little thing at a time. Now, it’s just a way of life. It’s what we do. She kind of likes that she gets her “special food” and because so many people in our circle are aware, they help. The class moms email lists of ingredients and food items, the cafeteria workers keep an eye out for her, It’s nice. Best of all is that she owns it and can read a label or speak up for help if she needs to.

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  4. …so not all of the increased ‘choices’ that come with modern technology translates into beneficial! Very informative post and useful in such a wide range of contexts and situations!

    (Hey! z! nice get, yo….)

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  5. We spent 18 years dealing with my son’s peanut allergy. He learned by the time he went to school to ask if there were peanuts in anything he was offered. At school, the cafeteria workers were supposed to know he had an allergy, but they would still put a peanut butter cookie on his tray sometimes. We had him tested again before he went away to college, and he tested negative for the allergy. No more carrying around an epi-pen and benadryl. He still doesn’t seek out peanuts, but at least I know if he accidentally eats some, he should be fine.

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    1. Hi, Dyanne! You know what, that happened to me with shellfish. I grew up eating shellfish of all kinds – LOVED any seafood. Suddenly, in my early 30s, I was having anaphylactic reactions. After Zilla was born, I finally had the full-blown testing done and turned up negative. Now I eat it again with no problem. Bizarre. Have to admit – as you already know with your son – it’s a huge relief not to panic about it. And with Zilla, at least we know it’s a sensitivity and a behavioral reaction more than a full-out allergy with the anaphylactic response. Whew.

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