How Busy Families Managing Life with Food Allergies

Created by: Foodom and Our Community Members, posted on 04/13/21

We recently reached out to members of our community who have family members that are allergic to one or more common food ingredients, such as gluten, egg, soy, dairy, nuts, and other foods. Food allergies can trigger a wide variety of reactions, from hives, itching, rash, headaches, joint pain, major stomach upset, and indigestion to more serious and life-threatening conditions like anaphylaxis. It can be a challenge to accommodate food allergies, especially if the allergy is severe.

The Whole Family Eats Allergy-Free

Sometimes, the family members will take on the diet of the person with the food allergies. For example, Camille said, “We all eat the same food to make it easy. So, we both eat gluten-free vegetarian.” She also mentioned, “[Eating this way] takes an extra step of planning often. There are many more options for gluten-free foods, even in the past 5 years, making it more pleasant for me to eat gluten-free as well. The only thing we do not share is bread. I get my regular bread, and he gets his gluten-free bread.”

Avoiding Nut Allergies at School and on Playdates

Corey said, “My daughter is allergic to peanuts and cashews. I never make meals or desserts with nuts, and we generally avoid restaurants that serve a lot of dishes with those ingredients to avoid cross-contamination. Schools have become much more aware of food allergies in the past 20 years, and are good about providing nut-free zones, and reminding parents to not use nuts in any treats provided. Even with that, it was a bit nerve-wracking when she was little, going to a new friend’s house that might serve something that they forgot had nuts in it.”

Bored with Limited Food Choices

Other participants mentioned that they tend to eat at the same restaurants that they know offer dishes to accommodate their allergens, such as gluten. Not all restaurants offer gluten-free options, though, so more time is spent at home for them, cooking with known gluten-free ingredients. It can become somewhat of a chore, or boring if you get stuck in a rut using the same ingredients all of the time.

Adi mentioned, “People sometimes don’t understand that other people with food allergies do not have to like everything they can eat, which can further limit choices.” Especially if a family member has multiple allergens.

While participants like Camille mentioned that they all ate the same thing to make things easier, some families with picky eaters don’t want to restrict their diet when they don’t have an allergy. When this happens, the cook of the family ends up making multiple versions of a dish to make everyone happy (except for the cook!).

Six Tips to Living Safely with Food Allergies

Our community members discussed some of the struggles of living with food allergies, but the biggest factor with allergies is staying safe to avoid a potential medical issue. Dr. John Cohn, an allergist and immunologist, recommends on The Health Nexus these six tips for keeping your family member safe if they suffer from food allergies:

  1. Avoid any food to which you are allergic at all times, unless your allergist directs otherwise.
  2. Know all names for that food. For example, cow’s milk may also appear as casein on labels. Foods seasoned with tahini actually contain sesame (tahini is made with sesame seeds).
  3. Know all the risks. For example, peanuts are in the legume family, different from tree nuts, but developing allergies to both is not uncommon. Cooked foods may be tolerated even though partially cooked or raw versions may cause symptoms. Cooked foods may “taste” differently to your immune system, too.
  4. Tell people about your food allergies. This includes restaurant servers and any friends or family members who may be preparing food for you. If you’re dining out and you think your server doesn’t understand your particular food allergy, explain it to them, or ask for a manager or the cook.
  5. Know the signs of a reaction (lip swelling, hives, trouble breathing) and get to an emergency room or call 9-1-1 as soon as possible.
  6. Travel wisely. If suggested by your doctor, always carry an epinephrine injector with you at home, at work and on any trips. If you travel abroad, know the language of the country you’re visiting so you can identify allergens on restaurant menus.

One Solution the Whole Family Can Get Behind

If you are the cook of the household and are dealing with cooking multiple meals, or are growing tired of eating the same things to accommodate a family member’s allergies, Foodom has the solution for you. Not only are personal chefs skilled in preparing meals that are tastier by using spices or cooking methods you may not have tried, but they also have no problem making different versions of meals. Just ask our Founder, Reneta Jenik, who often orders one dish cooked in multiple ways to accommodate the different dietary requests of her family!

With Foodom, we have filters where you can locate gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, and nut-free dishes. Or, find a dish that you like, and ask the chef to omit or substitute an ingredient to make it safe for your family. The possibilities are endless, and for less than the cost of takeout, it allows everyone in the family to eat the way they want and need.

Click here to learn more and get started!

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