Sure our life is totally changed due to food allergies. Eating out is hard. Eating in is hard. Parties are tough. The world is not safe. I GET IT. I really do. But sometimes, you just gotta look at the bright side. Really sit down and think about how your life has gotten better with food allergies, despite the hardships. See what comes to mind. You’ll be surprised with what positive side effects of food allergies you come up with. Here’s ours…
10 Positive Side Effects of Food Allergies for our family.
1. We read the ingredients of everything we buy.
Gone are the days where we can whimsically buy anything and just put it in our mouths or shopping cart without even a thought. We now spend copious amounts of time reading the ingredients label and deciphering what each item is.
The good thing is that in addition to avoiding the allergens, we also learn what’s in the everyday items we buy and can make an informed decision of whether we really want to eat that. Sometimes it may even be surprising!
2. We educate ourselves to learn what all the unpronounceable ingredients are.
Before having a milk allergy in the family, I didn’t know there was so many ways to specify milk. There’s whey, casein, lactose, lactalbumin, and more.
Albumin, lysozyme, ovalbumin, surimi, and globulin all contain eggs.
3. We learn about cross contamination and the food trail.
Imagine going to a sandwich shop. You think ordering a turkey sandwich would be safe for a peanut allergy, but think again. There’s a food trail and if anywhere along that trail there was the possibility of touching peanuts, your turkey sandwich will be contaminated with microscopic allergens.
Say 5 sandwiches before you, someone ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The worker placed the bread on his cutting board, spread the peanut butter with the peanut butter knife, spread some jelly with a jelly knife, put the other slice of bread on, then got the big serrated knife out to cut the sandwich in two. After cutting the sandwich, he wipes his knife clean with the hand towel next to him.
So what has peanuts on it? His gloves, the cutting board, the big serrated knife, the 2 knives for peanut butter and jelly, and the hand towel. Your turkey sandwich will now be made with all the peanut contaminated equipment. It’s almost like being a detective.
Avoiding your allergens is not just about what you order, it’s also about what everyone else has ordered before you.
4. We learn to cook more and make substitutions in popular dishes.
Just because you are allergic doesn’t mean you have to live without. You can either omit the offending ingredient or select a suitable alternate.
Instead of cheese, you can make lasagna with tofu ricotta (crumbled tofu with seasonings). Peanut butter can be substituted with a safe nut, seed, or soy butter. Butter can be substituted with any oil in baked goods. Eggs can be substituted with flax eggs for baked goods. Milk can be substituted with any alternative milk (rice, oats, hemp, etc) or water.
5. We eat less processed foods and more natural foods.
Since processed foods can have lots of unnecessary ingredients and be made in questionable facilities and equipment, natural real foods are safer and have only ONE ingredient. For example: apples, carrots, bananas, sunflower seeds, etc.
6. We eat more homemade food.
The food you make yourself is definitely the safest allergen-wise. You know exactly what is in there and you make it safe for the person with allergies by either leaving out certain items from popular recipes or making substitutions.
7. We eat less sugar.
When it comes to homemade desserts like ice cream, we learn just how much sugar is needed to get the sweetness of store-bought versions.
When you read the recipe booklet that comes with your ice cream maker, check out the recipe for Simple Vanilla Ice Cream. For 3 Cups of milk/cream, there is a whopping ¾ Cup sugar! I know I can easily eat 1 Cup of ice cream, so that would be eating ¼ Cup of sugar each time. That’s A LOT! I still make my own ice cream often, but I tend to make it a lot less sweet than store-bought ice cream and I try to use more natural sweeteners like ripe bananas, berries, maple syrup, and honey. It’s still delicious!
8. Nobody feels left out.
Since we eat more homemade foods, we have meals together at home quite often. We tend to make dishes at home that everyone can eat, regardless of allergies so nobody feels left out.
9. The whole family eats healthier.
When we eat more homemade meals and have less processed food around, everyone benefits.
10. We learn how to self-advocate as a survival skill.
You are your best advocate. If you don’t speak up, it won’t hurt anyone else besides yourself. So with practice, you learn to muster up the guts to ask the waiter whether the foods have allergens.