Friday, November 5, 2010

Just like living with Multiple Food Allergies!

This is my first post on my first personal blog, and I'm finding that writing about Multiple Food Allergies is a lot like living with them -- so many different things to think about and directions to go in, it's sometimes hard to decide which to do first.

Obviously today I am choosing the task of setting up my blog, so I'm putting on the back burner the many articles I have either written or plan to write and submit to various magazines, and the allergy-free cookbook I'm developing is also in a holding pattern.  Ditto the food allergy substitutions book I've got started.  The many recipes I have in various piles in my kitchen, family room, and even my bedroom are unendingly waiting for me to find time to either make them for the first time, tweak them, or send them out as part of an article or to friends who have volunteered to test them.

Then there's the friend of my mom's who asked me to recommend some bread and pizza dough recipes for her daughter who's allergic to gluten, yeast, egg whites, green peppers, salmon, vanilla, and a few other foods.  I'm glad to do it, but with all the recipes and information I've been collecting in the past seven years because of my own family's multiple food allergies, I know it's going to take a bit of time to sort through and find the most appropriate recipes for her.

Oh, and by the way, I have to finish this blog set-up and first posting (and maybe get on to other tasks LOL) before my kids get home from school at 3:30 pm today and then my son's Youth Group shows up at 4:30 pm for a 2-hour meeting.  I suppose I'd also better think about what to make for dinner and plan the preparation time in, too.  Whoever invented the phrase TGIF was probably a working single mom.

But writing about Multiple Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis (MFAA), specifically on this blog, is my main focus today, and even there I'm torn because there are so many important topics to cover.  I think my first choice should be the reason that I'm adding my blog to the many food allergy-related blogs already in existence, which is really because, despite all the great information and support out there, my exhaustive and ongoing search is still finding very little in the media and markets about dealing with MFAA when the allergies go BEYOND the "Top 8" most common food allergies currently recognized in the USA (wheat/gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, soy, fish and shellfish).  Canada adds a ninth, sesame, and is considering adding mustard as well, and other countries include a few others, notably corn, potato and rice.

In my family it's more a matter of which foods are NOT allergens for one or more of us, rather than which foods to avoid.  That's because my daughter is allergic to wheat and sunflower oil, I'm allergic to wheat, cocoa, cane sugar, citrus, and several other foods, and my mother, who lives with us, had a "safe to eat" list of only 26 foods up until a few weeks ago when, after testing at a specialized clinic in Dallas, she was able to add 4 more.  With so many foods off-limits for one or more of my family members, I've become very adept in creating or adapting recipes to accommodate food allergies.  And in Grandma's case, it doesn't stop with just not eating food allergens -- she is anaphylactic to nightshades (peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, etc.) and most spices, so she has to be very careful not to be anywhere near those, even just near the smell of them.  The majority of those foods are simply banned from our house altogether.

Rather than feeling constricted by these limitations, however, I take it as an exciting challenge, not only to find new ways to prepare meals with limited ingredients, but also to find new forms of ingredients and to learn as much as possible about alternative ingredients.  A perfect example is last Sunday when my kids and I went to the oriental markets in Pittsburgh's "Strip District" and I found -- among other amazing items not generally seen in local supermarkets -- green bean flour, something I didn't know existed.  Not only are green beans one of the few vegetables that my mom can eat, but the possibilities leaping to my mind about how to use this new flour have me practically jumping out of my seat to go start experimenting!  I'm thinking noodles, but would it work in bread?  Quiche crust?

I welcome your thoughts/comments/questions about that and anything else on this site or on your mind -- I named this blog "Multiple Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis (MFAA) Interchange" because it seems to me that the most important thing we can do to make living with MFAA easier is to foster interaction between people and exchange of information and encouragement.  I've found many like-minded people and am hoping more will join us through this online connection.

Looking forward to hearing from you!


abniazian said...

This is a true life thing, nothing to joke about -- I know because I am Bethany's daughter, and with my allergies to wheat and sunflower, it is very hard to find chips etc. so that I can have snack-like things to eat when I get home from school. It's also hard not to give in to temptations, like cookies, crackers, cakes, and some kinds of ice cream. Sometimes I have to actually pull myself away physically from certain things! But my mom makes all sorts of foods that I can still eat, and always looks for new "safe" items for me. Sometimes my friends are even jealous of what I get in my lunchbox!

patricia anderson said...

I know this post is 2 years late, but thank you for starting this website. I am 42 years old and was recently diagnosed with multiple food allergies. My list is very long and includes everything I used to eat on a daily basis. I am looking forward to reading further on this site.

Bethany Niazian said...

Patricia, I appreciate your encouragement, and glad that you found my blog -- I'm sure you will find info on here that will be a big help to you. Please also do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, and please do share your experiences as you deal with your recent diagnosis -- that is one of the goals of this blog, as there are more and more people finding that they have multiple food allergies and I truly believe we can help and learn so much from each other.