Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Life with allergies is unfair. Yes, I'm having a bit of a rant...

Sometimes even the best 'allergy' biscuits aren't good enough

It’s easy for me because I don’t have allergies.  See me absent-mindedly throw a piece of cheese into my mouth and watch as I scarf down a buttery croissant glazed in egg.  And have you tried the honey glazed mixed nuts from Waitrose? Yum.

My youngest daughter sees me do all of the above.  And then she watches her three siblings make orgasmic noises when they eat a chocolate biscuit.

She watches and she learns that life with allergies is not fair and she can’t eat like the rest of us.

I try not to be insensitive about allergies.  If we are out and I don’t have an allergy-friendly option for my youngest, then my older children go without.  Too right they whine, but we just ask them to work out how many times they have eaten dessert while youngest sister ate a square of dark chocolate.  (Clue: we’re in the high hundreds.)

I do my tra-la-la you-won’t-go-without-cake baking, I make sure my girl has a cupboard full of treats and I courier vegan cookies to school in the event of an unexpected-school-celebration-that-involves-dairy.

And guess what?  Some days that is just not enough, because my girl wants to eat exactly the same chocolate biscuit as her siblings. 

It happened last night.  No matter that she’d had a lolly while the others ate  the biscuit, no matter that my latest failed dessert (I called it ‘Squidge’)still turned out to be yummy and allergy friendly and no matter that last week and the week before there was egg free cake in every cupboard.

At bedtime she said: “Why do I have to have allergies?  I want to eat a Rocky (chocolate biscuit) like the others.”

 Not much I can say to that is there?  When it happens I deflate a little inside, give her a cuddle, say soothing, upbeat things and we both feel rubbish.

Life with allergies is tedious, boring and not very fun at all.  Do you find that?  Go on, hit me with your gripes about allergies!  Who knows, it might cheer us up in a sort of ‘we are all in the same crappy boat’ kind of a way.

And by the way, I haven’t forgotten that I write a recipe blog (as opposed to a random, whining blog).  I had high hopes for my ‘squidge’ cake, but I don’t think it will see the light of day again.

Recipes are happening.  Just not very quickly.

Until the next time fellow allergy whingers...

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved


whitehologram said...

I feel sick about my kids allergies too. C is gluten intolerant and lactose intolerant, F is allergic to eggs.

Today C had her first playmate away from home....I'm worried she'll eat something she shouldn't. She's only 5. When I told her she could only eat fruit if she's offered a snack she cried.

I even went so far as to get F a wristband that says DONT FEED ME in 2 languages. I really hate allergies!!!

It really is TOTALLY UNFAIR!!!

whitehologram said...

Opps, I meant *has

Rie's kitchen said...

Having an allergy completely sucks! My wonderful partner lives gluten free without complaint, so much so that when we recently in Rome he felt guilty at eating pasta, pizza etc. in the end I had to say that I would feel worse if he didn't eat all that wonderful gluten laden food. But on the inside I was definitely crying. It's not fair, but could be a lot worse.

Piglet said...

I feel so sorry for your little one. I have an intolerance to wheat and dairy. I'v lived with the side effects for years. Now I'm cutting both out and I feel great...if I have a bad day and eat either I suffer.
It must be so difficult for's good to have a rant.
Best wishes from a fellow piglet!

Kavey said...

It must be so hard, poor love. But lucky her that she has a mum that does her best to make alternatives for her, even when they're not what she dreams of.

Do you follow Azelia's Kitchen? One of her girls also has allergies, quite a few, so Azelia spends a lot of time and effort cooking foods that are suitable so that her daughter doesn't miss out any more than she has to.

Cookiemonster said...

I'm allergic to gluten, dairy, eggs and shellfish (among other things) and really struggle sometimes - especially those nights when you are so tired, can't be bothered to cook something from scratch and just long to order in take-away. That really hurts.

I remember when I was little, going to friends' birthday parties and being told I could only drink water as squash and fizzy drinks affected my asthma. Yes, it was sad at the time, but you get over it and it doesn't scar you for life!

On a brighter note however, I went to a very smart hotel for New Year this year and was looked after extremely well by the kitchen staff. So much so, that everyone else was drooling over my quail as they chomped miserably on their rubbery (that's how I imagine them to be) scallops! Ha!

There are some perks!

freefrommum said...

Oh I totally agree, allergies are completely unfair. My 4 yr old son has multiple food allergies and my 10 yr old daughter is coeliac so there's lots of unfairness in our house. I hate the fact that my kids always have to take their own food to parties and that my son can't go to a friend's house for tea (unless the parents don't mind being epi-pen trained but that hasn't happened yet), or feed the ducks, or eat the contents of his party bag, or have naan bread with his curry etc etc etc. I also hate how guilty I feel that I can choose whatever I want to eat in a restaurant or cafe including chocolate cake which my daughter would love to be able to have again (she was only diagnosed last year).

Joans Nose said...

Henry, aged 10, is allergic to egg, dairy and can no longer have soya milk. He has had these allergies since he was a baby and is sick to the back teeth with them. He had an allergic reaction to his skin prick test last November! It affects his every day life, wherever he goes, whatever he does and he does a lot. He has recently started dance lessons and wants to tap like Gene Kelly but half way through the 3 hour lesson everyone stops for food! With all the sweaty children all eating cheesy, eggy, chocolatey food the atmosphere becomes too much for him. He has an allergic reaction and has to come home (his allergies are that severe). He has always been aware, remembering to ask for ingredients even when he was only three. He is now more aware of the impact these allergies are having on his life and has recently become very depressed. We are positive about life but allergens are everywhere. People just see him as a petulant whinger, if only they could step into his shoes and walk around in them for a while, I know they would see him as I do. A very brave child. Love to you all. Henry's mom, Clare Xx

Pig in the Kitchen said...

White hologram, that's it! Let it all out! I also hate that crossed fingers/sick feeling in the pit of tummy feeling about playdates outside of the home. Even worse when well-meaning parents say: "I let her have X because I've seen you give it to her." Grrr!

Rie's Kitchen - yes it must be tough to watch your partner guzzle on the stuff you would love to eat. I don't have a dessert if my little one can't, but I'm not really sure it makes it any better. I'm beginning to see that no matter how hard I try, there are going to be times when she just feels crap about her allergies and there's nothing I can do to help. :-(

Piglet, I guess my daughter has never felt ill for any length of time because of her food because we caught her allergies early. Maybe if she could see how ill food would make her, she wouldn't want it??! Obviously I'm not going to try that strategy any time soon. Great news that you're feeling great!

Hi Kavey, I will go and see Azelia's kitchen, thanks for the tip!

Cookie monster, thanks for the honesty tempered with upbeat-ness! The take-out/eating out thing is one of the hardest parts; there's rarely a quick fix when you can't be bothered to cook. Yay for the quail and I'm SURE the scallops were terrible :-)

Freefrom Mum, I'm nodding in agreement about how horrible it is for our kids. The fact that they don't have choice in the 'real' world is so irritating. It really wouldn't be hard for businesses to make a few changes to embrace allergy sufferers. When I rule the world I will start with allergies.

Joan's nose/Clare, that sounds really tough and the sweaty chocolatey cheese description is very vivid! I know that people can't accommodate everyone else's allergies...but actually I think they should!! For just 3 hours why can't their kids work around Henry's allergies?! That's probably unreasonable, but I don't care!

Thanks to you all for replying, it is good to whinge some days. Now, back to a recipe experiment!


Vicki W said...

I have to say that for the most part it doesn't suck. Before you think that I don't have enough allergies to really get it, my list includes: wheat, dairy, eggs, tomatoes, onions, garlic, all green things (chloraphyl), food coloring, beer and wine. My diet is sooooo simple. It's good because I eat much healthier in general and it really helps with weight control because I have no will power. What I hate is not being able to eat out or at other people's homes. I always have to bring my own food. That really sucks.

Potty Mummy said...

Yes, it sucks. Especially living in a country where no-one has any understanding of 'allergic' or 'anaphylactic shock' and where you have to be constantly on your guard in case some helpful soul in a school cafeteria adds nuts to a cookie that had previously ALWAYS been nut free, without (get this) bothering to tell anyone. Thankfully it was my younger (slightly less allergic to nuts) son who ate his first.

I hate having to be the mum who is always asking 'are these nut free?' or sending notes with my kids on playdates or to birthday parties to remind the parents (who I will have previously called but who I think will probably be too busy to remember) that my sons are carrying piriton and an epi pen just in case they come into contact with nuts and - oh god pig, you really got me started there...

And, breathe...

Miriam mom of Celeste said...

My 4 year old was born with severe, and I mean severe allergies. She is allergic to the top 8 plus a few others. She also has eczema and EE because of these allergies. Add a food adversion that we can't fully understand but doctors say is kind of a auto defense mechanism and she won't eat fruit or vegetables. She hasn't started school yet even though she has treahted me to leave the house and take herself to school even if I don't want to, but I'm so afraid that something will happen to her. She has had 2 anaphilactic episodes just because of food contamination and now she developed broncospams -one step before asthma- and takes preventive medicine everyday. Plus now, she also has sleep disorders and developed some kind of phobia to hospitals and doctors. Now I don´t enjoy having a regular ice cream or even drinking milk I don't even buy them anymore. Do you think I hate food allergies? Hell yeah I do!!

Joans Nose said...

I too have stopped eating egg and dairy, although I do still have cow's milk in my tea. Henry has asthma and eczema too and I often wonder what else is on the way.
I home educate Henry partly because I want him to be a child until he is ready to move on from childhood, in his own time and in his own unique way. Partly because I despair of the school ethos of "One size fits all" and partly because I want him to enjoy his life and not worry about what allergens are on the other kids, desks, books, pens, and being the "special" one. It's enough this is in his life already and enough that he copes with it in all of the activities he goes to without the 9-3 daily worry aswell.
Miriam, you are quite within your right to home educate until you feel Celeste is ready and until you are ready to send her to school. It's not against the law. School is not compulsory but education is. Having allergies is huge, frightening and distressing for all involved no matter how well you cope with them. Xx

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Vicki W, ok so now I'm feeling humbled. And, um, do you just eat carrots and gin then?! Really good to hear a positive voice and yes, you definitely qualify for being 'allergic'. :-)

PottyM, seriously? In an American school they just slipped in a few nuts and thought that was OK?? I hope there was much tight-lipped ranting from a stiff-assed Brit??!!

Miriam, really interesting that you mention the auto-defense thing. I occasionally try to give my daughter food with tiny amounts of allergens in - as advised by the doctor. I always tell her what we're doing so that I'm not tricking her in any way, but she instantly gets anxious and often has reactions/feelings that are impossible to verify. She says that she has itching deep inside her ears. She does say that consistently when she has a reaction, so maybe that is one of her symptoms, but I also wonder whether it's brought on by her fear of having a reaction. Sandra Beasley talks about this in her book 'Don't kill the birthday girl' how just the fear of a reaction, or conviction that something will make you ill could trigger an allergic reaction. It's a very grey area. I can completely understand why you feel happier keeping Celeste at home when she is young; the world sometimes feels full of allergens. I'm lucky that my daughter is in a very small, caring school and they are really clued into allergies. Thanks for your comment.

Joans Nose, I'm nodding in agreement! But can I just say that you and Miriam deserve the extra 'ting' to your halo, because I'm very happy to send ALL my children off to school each morning, allergies or not. Ooops, I think I just showed my true colours... :-)


Mimi said...

My brush with allergies seems so trivial compared to what I've read in your comments.
My daughter had asthma when she was 3 and we took her off dairy, which (thankfully) worked. She came off all inhalers within c 6 months, and has never looked back.
It was difficult, especially for her liitle 3 y/o self, she used to rbign "special" ice-cream to birthday parties.
I'd just like to say that I empathise fully, and hope I would be sensitive if I were the mother of a child in a class with another who had allergies.

corsadriver49 said...

Totally agree with Vicki W. My list is similar; gluten, wheat, dairy, soya, citrus, caffeine, alcohol though not quite so bad. I also have a very healthy diet but it is SUCH a pain always having to remember to take stuff with you when you go out and to other people's houses. And when people make comments about 'faddy' diets. However, I try hard to remember how much better I'm eating and how nutritious all these things are.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hi Mimi, nope, 'just' asthma is not trivial at all and what great news that taking her off dairy worked. I'm fairly sure that dairy is the root of all evil...

And I am SURE you would be the sympathetic mum, after all you can cook a mean vegan cake, right?!

Corsadriver49, your diet does sound really healthy and I think as adults it's easier to see and accept the benefits of eliminating harmful food. And the 'fad diet' comments drive me insane! I have the urge to stuff tofu sausages down their bigoted, ignorant throats until they gag. Ahem. No idea where that came from.


Jacqui said...

I am a new reader, just found you through the Circle of Mom's veggie voting. :) I look forward to reading more.

I just read this post.. along with the comments and am in tears.. but in a good way. It's so refreshing to know I'm not alone.

My three year old daughter has an allergy to eggs and severe allergy to peanuts. She also has very sensitive skin and eczema.. so nothing scented for her (I do try every couple of months though.. just in case).

It breaks my heart just a little every time she is offered food from someone, but says no because it may make her sick,and does it have peanut or eggs. It also makes me proud that she's aware.. but at the same time she shouldn't have to deal with that at such a young age.

I am so glad that the schools here in Canada are peanut free.. no tolerance. Because school scares me come the fall. I just would love things to be "normal" and not have to be so cautious.

On the other hand, this will teach her to empathize with others that have issues and she will be a better person for it.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Jacqui, I'm very glad you found me! I think the zero tolerance on nuts must be a big relief, I wish we had that in the UK. In fact I can't believe we don't.

It is heart-wrenching when you see a tiny person refusing food in a very mature way, I also find it really upsetting. But it's far better now that my daughter can articulate why, I hated the stage where I had to hover over her batting away toddlers that came near her with sticky, cheesy hands.

It's definitely not easy, but I'm finding comfort in knowing that I'm not alone...I hope that's not selfish of me!
Pig x

friendlyfoods said...

I hate the way that our little ones lives already have constraints on them, that the entire world isn't their 'oyster'. How could my youngest ever dream of backpacking round Thailand when she's allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts and sesame?

I cannot even begin to dream of what it must be like to be able to take your children anywhere and always be able to get something to eat. They're fine with my 'embarrassing mummy' tupperwares full of home made goodies at the moment, but will it be good enough when they're teenagers and trying to look cool? In fact we visited the freefrom food festival at the Southbank last year and visited the Ms Cupcake vegan cake stall. It brought tears to my eyes that my two beautiful daughters could choose anything they wanted....

But its blogs like yours piginthekitchen that makes it feel a little bit better..

Pig in the Kitchen said...

FriendlyFoods, I have my head firmly in the sand when I consider my daughter's future. I'm expecting the magic allergy fairy to arrive any day now and leave a note on my pillow saying my girlie is no longer allergic. I can't believe that she will have to live with her dietary constraints for the rest of her life...

I also bought cupcakes for my daughter at the food festival! It was such a treat to hand her a box of pretty cakes. I'm hoping that nut-free veganism will be the new big food trend and we'll be eating out every weekend.

Until then I guess it's back to the blog and thank-you very much for your kind comments!

Pig x

Iota said...

I'm a bit of an interloper here, because no food allergies in the family. But I thought I'd come along and sympathise. Reading the comments has been an insight. Usually, mums are so upbeat and try so hard not to let allergies limit their children's activities, that us non-allergy people don't realise how exhausting and frustrating it must be.

I don't know why so much of life has to revolve round food. Do kids really need a snack on a 2-hour playdate? And that comment about the child having to miss a dancing class because of the snack time made me angry. Why couldn't the others all bring fruit or something instead?

Life must have been a little easier (not much, but a little) for allergy sufferers when there were three meals a day, and that was pretty much it. Now we just live surrounded by food.

Nikki-ann said...

I don't have allergies, just intolerances but they're bad enough. I'm suffering today and I suffered last night because yesterday I chose to eat something I shouldn't have. It really sucks to watch other people eat ice cream and cake and chocolate etc and to sit there watching and wishing I could eat it too (without the horrid side affects).

Joans Nose said...

Iota, it makes me so cross but so sad for Henry at the same time. Poor old Henry (10) went to dance again on Saturday, his first ballet lesson which he thoroughly enjoyed until they all had yet another snack. Why? And so I was called after just 45 minutes to collect him. He therefore missed his tap and street dance because of this. I am in a dilemma...should he continue or should I say enough is enough? I am worried about exposing him to allergens that are making him very poorly but on the other hand he really wants to dance like Gene Kelly and play Billy Eliot and he should be able to be a part of life just like everyone else. :-/

Allergy Testing Lady Cardiff said...

I have to say that with many years of using the DietX Bio Resonance testing device, the success rate of diagnosis has been in order of 95%.

With clients fed up of visiting their GP with wasted visits, they come to me......I always receive positive feedback, either a full remission of symptoms or massive improvement, children included. It seems eczema is rife in children....

It seems to me, that once my clients omit the white 'pussy fluid' we call Milk, that comes from the udder of a cow (meant for the consumption by a baby calf, not baby humans) that the condition in 90% of cases completely goes away.

There seems to be so much misinformation surrounding the healthfulness of animal products, when there are huge (non dairy non meat) athletes around today. I personally know a 220lb Vegan of nearly 9 years, who is very very fit and gives blood etc etc. I understand not all people are anatomically and biologically similar, but there is still much government misinformation (for profit)regarding what constitutes a truly healthful diet.

Think about it....if milk was that healthy, why would they need celebrities to endorse it?. Why don't they endorse Brocolli instead????. ($$$£££)

Anonymous said...

Hi Pig, I'm celiac and too much dairy particularly cow or overly processed foods leaves me awake at night trying to breath through the pains in my stomach.I have a 4 month old baby who is already on solids. She will be on a gluten and additive free diet till shes at least 3 years old to try and reduce the chances of allergies. I have a recipe for dairy free egg free vanilla ice cream that's good with fried banana with a bit of dark chocolate melted on top. The advantage of having allergies is that in the quest to find the best alternatives sometimes we come up with things that are even better than what everyone else has!

trezegue said...

I like, very interesting

Anphy said...

yes. so unfair. I am allergic to seafood ( and living in Sydney, the irony of it) and pineapple!!!
Oh the "wish I could"s everytime we eat out and I see all the different seafood items on the menu :-(did

CeeCee said...

Please tell your daughter she is NOT alone. I am 43 now, and while I outgrew most of my food allergies through my teens and early 20's, they have come back with a vengeance. My allergies consisted of, and weren't limited to... milk, eggs, chocolate, farina, citrus fruits, including tomatoes, gluten, shellfish, and red dyes. As well as a deathly allergy to peanuts! My mother (bless her) chose substitutes for me to try to make me feel like I wasnt missing out on so much, while watching my 6 other siblings have ice cream, and chocolate, and all the like. She used carob instead of chocolate, and I could eat some cereals if I used soymilk baby formula, (they didnt have all of the options they have now for products available to people with allergies) I feel for her.. I went to birthday parties with my "special" cupcakes, and no ice cream, etc.. Tell her to hang in there, and explore substitutions that she likes. Im going to try your gluten-free and egg and dairy free bread rolls this week, as I am craving gluten-free bread that doesnt come out of the oven weighing a ton b/c it's so dense. Good luck to her and I think it's soo great that you are supportive of her and are coming up with alternatives for her to feel as normal as possible. Kudos to you!!

Anonymous said...

At age 27, I was silent from vocal paralysis from intubation; angeoedema and anaphylactic shock. Since then, I have experienced countless anaphylactic reactions accompianied by libel hypertension. I am anaphylactic to : all mammalian meat and mammalian products such as dairy, butter, shortening, gelatin, sea food, fish, iodine and iodized salt, peaches, bananas, avacodos, soy, wheat, gluten, nuts, peanuts, red dye, and preservatives. Even pots, pans, appliances have been replaced. Eating out is not an option for me. Thank God for quinoa, vegan chocolate chips, vegan, vegan brownies. carrot pumkin cake, coconut ice cream, pineapple pizza, vegan rice cheeses, coconut butter, and more : ). I wasn't always Deathly allergic to these things. A year ago, I could eat mammalian. A tick caused the galactose allergy. At 5''8, I went from 145 to 100 and am slowly re-gaining. By mastering the desserts and treats, first, I not feel more human : ). It can be really depressing to go out and watch others eat and all I am allowed to have is Dr. Pepper - because, anything else from the menu can seriously kill me! Now, I pack cute little tins, and stuff special sweets inside my purse- at least I will have something to go with my dr.pepper! I can really sympathize with your little girl. My children are healthy, strong, non-allergic. My Doctor has explained to my children how important it is to control my environment, my life depends on it. Even traces of any of the above are threatening. And, my children never complain about what we have in our kitchen. They eat the same foods as me because they do not want to put me at risk. Unfortunately, that is just how it is. My friends, and children are trained to use epinephrine, steroids, and to contact emergency assistance when necessary. I'm also allergic to benedryl.

audiopixie said...

I am allergic to penicillin and most antibiotics. this makes being ill fun.
recently I have been diagnosed as lactose intolerant. at 36. 36! this is an age where I am already addicted to macaroni cheese and custard. and chocolate. and milk. and butter.

glad I found your blog though because it supplies me with potential cake recipes. I love cake.