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My child has a Food Allergy What the HECK?!

Welcome to my blog.  My name is Star.  My goal for my posts is to help parents of kids with food allergies as well as the gut diseases that come with it.

What do you do when you hear from the doctor that your child has a food allergy or even better, multiple food allergies?  FREAK OUT! right?  Well that is exactly what I did when just one of my kids was diagnosed with just one allergy (so far).  I was a young first time mom and had not much education in food allergies, even though I had a bachelors degree in Nutrition education.  Maybe they need to specifically have a course in college just on that for heaven's sake.

A food allergy is the body's way of saying "I don't like that protein in that particular food. It's a threat....GET AWAY"  It then it reacts with a sudden breakout in hives, swelling of the face, lips and or tongue, vomiting, stomach pain and even more severe reactions such as trouble breathing, closing off of the throat.  This severe reaction is called Anaphylaxis. The only way to stop this severe reaction is to get some epinephrine into your body immediately through an epi auto-injector.  Otherwise the result can be fatal.

More than 170 foods are known to cause food allergies but the top 8 foods cause about 9 out of 10 reactions in the United States.  These 8 foods are 

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Shellfish
  • Fish
  • Peanut
  • Tree nuts

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??, how could there be that many main allergens?  This question was racing through my head for days after I heard my son was allergic to Wheat (Gluten).  I was scared that because he was allergic to one food, that he would become allergic to all of those main foods eventually.  

A friend of mine has a daughter with celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease.  The body does not like the protein in Wheat (Gluten) so it attacks  the small intestine. It causes diarrhea, stomach pain and even a skin rash.  She told me later that day that there were many different names for gluten in the ingredient lists.  HOLY COW! why can't there be just one word instead of 500 different words for gluten (my brain of course was exaggerating).  

I went online to the Celiac Disease Foundation to see if it had any more information on the different names that I would have to look for in the ingredient list.

Gluten-Containing Grains and Their Derivatives 

  • Wheat
  • Varieties and derivatives of wheat such as:
    • wheatberries
    • durum
    • emmer
    • semolina
    • spelt
    • farina
    • farro
    • graham
    • KAMUT® khorasan wheat
    • einkorn wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Triticale
  • Malt in various forms including: malted barley flour, malted milk or milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Wheat Starch 

This was so overwhelming to me.  I have never read any label to that extent before.  That night I just cried.  My husband reminded me that WE could deal with this, WE had the resources to make this work and it was not the end of the world.  He finally stated that I knew how to figure this out based on my knowledge from my nutrition degree.  I had wrote meal plans and diets before for numerous people with all kids of issues....and this was no different.  My pasta and bread loving child was going to need to adjust to some new foods.  I decided to start slow and do a menu plan for him for 4 days.  These were the lists of Gluten containing foods that I posted on my fridge

Common Foods That Contain Gluten

  • Pastas:
  • raviolis, dumplings, couscous, and gnocchi
  • Noodles:
    • ramen, udon, soba (those made with only a percentage of buckwheat flour) chow mein, and egg noodles. (Note: rice noodles and mung bean noodles are gluten free)
  • Breads and Pastries:
    • croissants, pita, naan, bagels, flatbreads, cornbread, potato bread, muffins, donuts, rolls
  • Crackers:
    • pretzels, goldfish, graham crackers
  • Baked Goods:
    • cakes, cookies, pie crusts, brownies
  • Cereal & Granola:
    • corn flakes and rice puffs often contain malt extract/flavoring, granola often made with regular oats, not gluten-free oats
  • Breakfast Foods:
    • pancakes, waffles, french toast, crepes, and biscuits.
  • Breading & Coating Mixes:
    • panko breadcrumbs
  • Croutons:
    • stuffings, dressings
  • Sauces & Gravies (many use wheat flour as a thickener)
    • traditional soy sauce, cream sauces made with a roux
  • Flour tortillas
  • Beer (unless explicitly gluten-free) and any malt beverages (see “Distilled Beverages and Vinegars” below for more information on alcoholic beverages)
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Anything else that uses “wheat flour” as an ingredient
Two granola bars on a cutting board.

Foods That May Contain Gluten

These foods must be verified by reading the label or checking with the manufacturer/kitchen staff.

  • Energy bars/granola bars – some bars may contain wheat as an ingredient, and most use oats that are not gluten-free
  • French fries – be careful of batter containing wheat flour or cross-contact from fryers
  • Potato chips – some potato chip seasonings may contain malt vinegar or wheat starch
  • Processed lunch meats
  • Candy and candy bars
  • Soup – pay special attention to cream-based soups, which have flour as a thickener. Many soups also contain barley
  • Multi-grain or “artisan” tortilla chips or tortillas that are not entirely corn-based may contain a wheat-based ingredient
  • Salad dressings and marinades – may contain malt vinegar, soy sauce, flour
  • Starch or dextrin if found on a meat or poultry product could be from any grain, including wheat
  • Brown rice syrup – may be made with barley enzymes
  • Meat substitutes made with seitan (wheat gluten) such as vegetarian burgers, vegetarian sausage, imitation bacon, imitation seafood (Note: tofu is gluten-free, but be cautious of soy sauce marinades and cross-contact when eating out, especially when the tofu is fried)
  • Soy sauce (though tamari made without wheat is gluten-free)
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Pre-seasoned meats
  • Cheesecake filling – some recipes include wheat flour
  • Eggs served at restaurants – some restaurants put pancake batter in their scrambled eggs and omelets, but on their own, eggs are naturally gluten-free

My biggest shock was that Gravy had gluten in it.  I guess I had never made it and didn't realize it contained flour(Click here for a good Gluten free gravy)

The menu I came up with for my picky 3 year old is listed below.  It was going to be 4 days before we got paid again to be able to replace all the gluten in our house.  My son actually really liked it change....for a minute


  1. Yogurt with strawberries
  2. Rice chex milk and grapes
  3. Banana mango yogurt smoothie
  4. Scrambled eggs and ham, banana


  1. String cheese and carrots with ranch
  2. Apples and peanut butter
  3. String cheese rolled in ham, banana half
  4. cottage cheese and pineapple


  1. Grilled chicken strips. Green beans, rice
  2. Pork chop with butter and garlic potatoes, peas
  3. baked ham with cheesy potatoes, carrots
  4. meat loaf and roasted broccoli

I did a lot of breathing meditation that night to cope with the overwhelming information.  I really like this book for those nights when I need to just breathe.  The Art of Breathing: The Secret to Living Mindfully




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