Monthly Archives: November 2014

Thanksgiving

This weekend I spent a few hours combing through hundreds of recipes from my late grandmother. She was an excellent cook. Sifting through her recipes brought back memories of being in her kitchen and watching her cook. She taught me how to fold ingredients together to make a light fluffy cake, how to make a sauce, and pan gravy. She taught me so much, things I still benefit from.

My grandmother was such a wonderful, loving person, her cooking was just the icing on the cake. Every time I make one of her recipes, I know I am in some small way carrying on her memory. So, in preparation for Thanksgiving, I made her pumpkin pie. It calls for real-whole pumpkins – she was that kind of cook.

I was reading her recipe and reminded again of my grandmother’s gentle humble nature. The recipe is literally a list of ingredients with measurements. No directions, no how-to, just a list. In her humility she genuinely believed her cooking was so ordinary that anyone could do it. There was no need for step-by-step directions…why everyone knows how to make a pie and pie crust from scratch. She was so unassuming, she just thought if someone wanted her recipe, they just wanted to know what she used.

It is such a contrast to today’s society when everything is pre-made, boxed, and effort free. It is a hard transition to come from a place of buying pre-made items and adding water or just heat and serve to actually having to cook…with the ingredients in their natural state.

Although that transition can be difficult – it is possible, and I must admit the training I received in my early years has served me well. A good recipe, a few modifications to adjust for allergies or intolerances, opens up a world of freedom. Once a skill is learned it can be applied over and over again.

The really neat thing, the thing that humbles me the most, the little treasures my grandmother invested in me, I am now investing in the younger generation. I now have a little helper in the kitchen who I am showing how to make a pie crust and make pumpkin puree from scratch. In addition to the lessons I learned and am now passing on, I am also teaching about food allergies. Lessons in action about cross-contact, substitutions, etc, are now a part of what I am passing down.

This year, this season, I am thankful for those who invested in me. It takes time and effort to pour yourself into someone else simply for their benefit. I am blessed to have had many people in my life who loved me sacrificially and poured themselves into my life. Those moments have made it possible for me to flourish despite and through my food allergies.

FARE’s new president

As you may or may not know, FARE has elected a new president. Dr Baker has served as interim president since the previous president resigned in August. I invite you to read Dr Baker’s interview on the FARE blog.

FARE’s Blog – Dr Baker Interview

Your pizza will be here in 30 to 45 minutes

Although, at times, and sometimes more than I would like to admit, I get tired of cooking. Yes, I miss the days of picking up the phone and ordering a pizza or running through a drive-through on the way home because it is Monday, or I stayed late, or because… I don’t feel like cooking.

Is it just me, or do you gloat a little when you whip out a awesome meal in under thirty minutes? Yeah, take that pizza delivery-man!

Well I do. So often I hear remarks like I don’t have time to cook… I hate to dirty all those pots and pans…  As for me, I am quicker than a drive-through, make better food, and usually only dirty one pan.

Having food allergies forces and eventually encourages you to grow. I used to cook, now I create. I used to feel tied to my kitchen, but now I see the challenge in how to better prepare for my week. I do not spend every night cooking…um…creating, so I plan for leftovers. I have also learned to keep some tried and true items always in stock. Dragging yourself through a grocery store when you look like death-warmed-over to get stuff to make soup (yes from scratch because the easy pre-made stuff is a no-no), is no fun. So, my go-to stuff is always in stock in my pantry and fridge.

Every time I go the store I make it a point to pick-up one spice I know is running low. This keeps me from getting into a pinch. It also gives me freedom to change my mind. Yeah, so what if I bought that chicken breast thinking I would make chicken tacos, I don’t feel like chicken tacos tonight and I have the items on hand to make chicken Marsala instead. Woo!

Often, I think that I do not really miss the fast food or eating out. I miss being able to change my mind… at the last minute. So, I have learned to be versatile in my creating meals. It’s like Food Network’s Chopped, but real life and not gross weird stuff. There are so many dishes you can create if you keep your pantry well stocked with spices, cooking wines, and vinegars. Try picking up an item or two next time you are at the store. No need to break the bank. Just one or two items and over time, you will have a well-stocked pantry and the freedom to change your mind too… even at the last minute.

It’s the little things, that if they become a habit, make flourishing with food allergies possible.

Sticks and Stones…

Every food allergy blogger struggles with which topic to tackle. Shall I pick a “Let’s all rally” or a “Finding contentment” topic. Should I pick something heart wrenching that may get a lot of shares? I lack the flare for that. No, instead, I am going to tackle words, specifically the words we speak to ourselves.

Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.  – Oh really?!

I remember coming home with my list of “can’t have” foods. I stood in front of pantry with bitter determination, thinking, “how bad could this possibly be?” Several grocery bags later and an empty pantry, refrigerator, and icebox…I realized that this was bad. Reading labels had opened up a whole new world…those pesky allergens were in EVERYTHING!

What was I going to eat? What was I supposed to do when I craved the things I was allergic too? I had to literally change my mind about good, “healthy food.” These things I could no longer have were not inherently bad or evil, but my body’s response to them was. How was I going to change my entire diet…overnight?

I confess, like many adults struggling with food allergies, I did not handle it well. My “adjustment” was radical. I ate very little in the first few weeks. All of my go-to recipes were no longer safe. Eating out was definitely not an option. In all of this, I struggled not to just have a little of the now forbidden foods.

That is when I began telling myself, “I can’t have that, it will kill me.” Is this a true statement? Well, yes. But in my effort to keep myself safe from my own desires and cravings, cross-contact, and a host of other terrifying scenarios, I began building an unscalable wall around me, in my own mind.

Years ago I made the decision to stop watching CSI, Criminal Minds, and NCIS. I found my mind overwhelmed with fear. I would always drive around a bit before parking my car, envisioning one of the many episodes where a serial killer was hiding behind a bush. Although the possibility of someone attacking me is not impossible, it was certainly not something I needed occupying my thoughts all the time.

So, several years after receiving my “list” a few trips to the hospital and the “list” growing, I had to make another decision. Is having a reaction a possibility? Absolutely. Do I need to be constantly telling myself “That will kill me.” No. The goal is to stay safe and healthy.

While I was staying safe, I was making myself unhealthy. So from freedom to the snares of bondage, I think I have found a balance in my words. I now say, “I can’t have that, but I can have this.” Now, it is less fear based, but more about a choice, “This makes me sick but this does not.”

I know it is popular to refer to our food allergies as “life-threatening” and there are times and places that is needed. But, not in our heads and our hearts.

I know the reality of my food allergies. I know what it means to use an Epi-Pen, several times over. I also know what it is to live in a self-made hell of fear. welling on all the possibilities of what could go wrong,  dealing with the aftermath of reaction when you have been so careful.

I get it. But, instead of surrounding our minds with forty-foot walls fifteen feet deep, topped with barbed-wired and broken glass bottles, maybe we could change it out for a little white picket fence? One you can see over and through.  One that allows us the  freedom to think creatively about living and flourishing with our food allergies?

What words are you speaking to yourself? Are they helpful or hurtful? Do you feel walled-in? Would you like to stay safe and also be healthy? Maybe consider writing down the words you speak to yourself. What could you change them to?

We can’t change the reality of food allergies, but we can certainly change how we view and interact with them.

 

Flourish with Food Allergies is a certified AllerCoach firm based out of Houston, Texas. You can personally connect with Lauren at FAcoachTX@gmail.com.