Allergy-Friendly foods are for everyone, but do you know why?
Allergy-Friendly Foods are everywhere. Since these foods are everywhere, sometimes we step back and think, and often make a change in our life. As a dietitian, I know the word ‘diet’ is perceived as a forbidden 4-letter word. In reality, diet is just the general term for what and how you eat, regardless if that includes a plan, specific structure, or even just eating whatever strikes your fancy and happens to be available at the moment.
We all have many of these life or health events that can inspire a diet change.
Perhaps you have planned a diet change in your life as a New Year’s resolution, after a health concern or new diagnosis, or even due to a general life event such as a birthday or milestone that inspires you to change. One thing that all of you reading this most likely have in common is that you have embarked on a diet change due a medical concern or food allergy diagnosis, either for yourself or a loved one.
A diet change for any reason is usually just considered for the family member who needs the diet change alone. This is the main reason why many who require a special diet often feel alone, deprived, and are ultimately unsuccessful in incorporating a new diet as a lifestyle vs. a momentary change. This is also why so many people perceive the word ‘diet’ as a forbidden 4-letter word to be avoided at all costs.
Instead of all the negative connotations that come to mind when thinking about a diet, what would it be like if this new diet change needed for your family member was celebrated and embraced? Taking it one step further, what if the whole family participated and enjoyed the same allergy-friendly foods? Let’s talk about 4 quick reasons why you should be an allergen-free family if possible, where everyone digs into and savors the same allergy-friendly foods required by a family member.
Reason #1 – Digging into Allergy-Friendly foods makes you a Good Role Model
First, and maybe the most important reason, is that children learn by example. Being a good role model is by far the best way to teach little ones any lesson, and particularly true when it comes to teaching good dietary habits. When children grow in a household where enjoying allergy friendly foods and avoiding allergens in the norm, then they are more likely to make the same choice and mimic the same behaviors in the future. Imagine the effect this might have on your loved ones if the whole family could model this behavior!
Reason #2 – Provide Support and Acceptance
When the whole family dines allergen-free, the family members with a particular diet need will also feel supported and accepted. Many times a unique dietary need can feel lonely and isolating. While each of us is unique, differences can also help us stand out from the crowd for the wrong reasons. And everyone wants to feel accepted at home if nowhere else. Imagine how easy a diet change is when the whole family supports the new change.
Reason #3 – Eliminate Accidental Exposure
Having an allergen-free household also means the food allergens of concern are not even present in the household. This can be especially helpful as little ones explore their surroundings and become more mobile. Babies and toddlers learn by putting new items in their mouth whether that item is edible or not. If the food allergen is not available, little ones are less likely to accidentally eat something that they are allergic to or even have cross-contamination of that item into other dishes and foods. This can be a literal lifesaver if your family member has a severe food allergy reaction, such as anaphylaxis.
Reason #4 – Delicious Food
Finally, and maybe the best reason is that allergen-free foods can be just as delicious. I follow the “live to eat” philosophy in life rather than eat to live. If you follow the same mentality you know that taste is important, and delicious food is a delight. Allergy-friendly foods are delicious and better than their counterparts with allergens.
Need some ideas or inspiration? Check out our Neocate Footsteps Recipe book. We also have a variety of Neocate recipes on our Neocate Pinterest page, our Neocate YouTube channel, and Neocate Facebook page. Many of the recipes and videos on our Neocate YouTube channel are available in Spanish as well.
Tell us, in what ways has your whole family embraced becoming an Allergen-Free Family? What worked well for you that you would like to share with other families? Are there any allergy-friendly recipes that you would like to share? Please let us know in the comments below.
-Kristin Crosby MS, RDN, LDN
Last updated March 2018