A mama in our Savoring Joy Community recently emailed me this urgent request:
“Help! Where to start?! No dairy for 3 of us, no nuts for 2, no gluten for 1 maybe 2, (all have to) cut back sugar…???”
Does her cry for help resonate with you?
Discovering food sensitivities and food allergies can be very difficult emotionally, physically and mentally. Depending on your current lifestyle and the severity and precedence of the food you’re sensitive or allergic to, it can be a HUGE adjustment.
I understand this mom’s desperation. I know how complicated and challenging adjusting to a new way of eating because of food sensitivities can be.
Last year I was faced with a ridiculously long list of foods that I could no longer eat because of leaky gut (intestinal permeability). That’s another story for another time. But bottom line, I get it. I TOTALLY get it. I’ve had my own journey with oppressive food sensitivities so I understand the challenges they present.
Imagine the burden of trying to accommodate each family member’s sensitivities every meal you eat together. The mom who emailed me was trying to confront not only every new food allergy & sensitivity, but also every additional food dislike and preference each person had, and try to somehow manage putting food on the table that everyone could eat and enjoy. How overwhelming!
Can you imagine how many different dishes she was anticipating having to make to please everyone? That is enough pressure and restraints to drive a person into pure insanity or depression. Straight up crazy talk.
Thankfully, I have a simpler solution for her, and for you.
Rather than focus on the list of things everyone CAN’T eat, wearing yourself out making separate meals to accommodate each person’s needs, focus and plan your menus based on the foods that everyone CAN eat.
By recognizing all the common ground and foods still enjoyable by each person, meal ideas will begin to open up. You’ll be able to see whole food groups that lend a plethora of options for you to prepare and enjoy with your family. Sometimes that simple shift in perspective can make the biggest difference.
So where do you start?
1.) Get everything laid out before you in clear view.
Make a list of each person you are feeding and their sensitivities, allergies, and dislikes.
2.) Look over your lists for any common/shared allergies, sensitivities, and dislikes.
Write these big and bold at the top of your notes.
These are the main things you want to cut out of your recipes altogether or find substitutions for.
Side note– I am a big believer that if you cut something out of your diet, more often than not, something else should be added to replace it.
For example, if you cut out dairy, an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D, add in sardines since they have both calcium and vitamin D as well. Not a sardine fan? Just add more calcium-packed leafy greens and get plenty of Vit D from other sources.
3.) Start substituting.
Think of recipes you currently make that everyone likes and begin substituting the ingredients that are no longer tolerable with things that are.
Introducing a new ingredient as a substitution in a familiar recipe is a LOT easier than trying to change everything all at once.
By cooking your familiar recipes and family favorites with substitutions, you are able to transition smoothly and keep things simple.
4.) Once you get the hang of substituting and using different ingredients, then you can start adding new recipes.
You can do this one new meal a week or one new meal a day- introduce at a pace that is manageable for you.
Find allergy-friendly recipes from resources like Pinterest, specialty diet food bloggers or chowstalker.com
Join allergy-free Pinterest boards, Facebook groups, or forums to share and receive support and recipes.
And of course, ask me anything! If I don’t have the answer, I will at the very least point you to someone who does. 🙂
And remember— don’t focus too much on foods you CAN’T have; focus on all the foods that you CAN have.
Living without, does not mean without living.
There is still so much more to life (and to you) than what you can or can’t eat.