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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Food Allergies & Natural Foods

The more and more that I interact with a community of mothers, childcare figures, and even small talk with strangers, the more I realize what a giant misinformation in regards to food and food allergies there seems to be amongst the general public.

Food allergies; something I don't think I had ever thought about before spring of 2013, when Ezra (my now 2 year old) was tested and proved to be allergic to MILK, EGGS, WHEAT & DOGS. No one in Brian's or my family had such allergies and we were completely clueless, taken aback and event felt like you may be feeling right now imagining the possibility of your own kid having these:  "why my kid?", he won't be able to eat PIZZA, or cookies, or ice cream or or or ...

Little did we know that what seemed like a giant limitation, has become not only an effortless way to eat for us, it has made me personally cook with more creativity, it has made Ezra and our entire family healthier, more slender, it has refined our palate (yes even the palate of our 2 year old!) and ultimately, we've been able to creatively find "just-as-yummy" treats for the whole family to enjoy.

When one member of the family has food allergies, it is only natural that the whole family jumps on board for the same type of diet; out of convenience, new found knowledge of food, and even a little support.

So back to that word "misinformation", it all dawned on me a few weeks ago when, in passing, I mentioned to a clerk at checkout how my toddler has food allergies. The man told me how he had babysat a little girl who knew she had allergies and how the list of "prohibited foods" went on and on and on. I found it sad that the man recounting the story was shining a light of compassion on the little girl and implying that the child had been impaired by not being able to eat X, Y & Z processed foods. While he felt bad for kids with food allergies, I sat there "feeling bad" for the misinformation that he and so many others must have ingrained. After all, I believe, I too would have felt and reacted the same exact way a few years prior.

What's my point?

Food allergies & food intolerances are not a fad. Yes, our grocery stores now have ailes of gluten free, dairy free & vegan products, more than ever--- But, this is not a new atkins diet!

So Why is there a "new" demand for this type of diet & products? 

I believe that it comes from a need that the general public has developed, to escape the consequences of toxic processed foods that inundate the American diet. In simple terms, new generations have been affected by fake foods that are stuffed with mystery ingredients to make them last on shelves.

I think that it is a blessing that such allergies have arisen, so that, in turn, malformed foods will be less of a demand! Maybe, just maybe this new demand will be the new way, and corporations will have to adapt accordingly.

What is the main problem?

America's size. Yes, the actual SIZE of the country. Corporations have taken a sort of monopoly and are feeding way too many people- resulting in having found the cheapest, most synthetic ways of mass distributing foods for 300 million people.

What way is there around it?

As much as it's been heard, buying produce that is organic, buying local. Not filling your cart of things that come in shiny air-tight seals and boxes. Buying food that takes longer for you at home to cut up, peel, saute, season and enjoy.

PROS to joining the "natural food" diet :

• Health (lower risk of heart disease, medical bills, better quality of life etc)
• Eating food that tastes better!
• Learning to cook more complexly and creatively
• Making food a culture, tradition and wholesome ritual for families
• Support of local farmers vs. giant corporations
• Eating natural foods vs synthetic foods

CONS to joining the "natural food" diet:
• can be more costly
• cheese can be hard to replace, as many of the vegan replacements have strange & carcinogen components too
• finding healthy options may be hard while traveling
• ordering at restaurants  may take a few seconds longer as you ask what is fresh and local


Obviously there will be moments where it should be allowed to "cheat" and eat your favorite cheesy fries at a restaurant, or cookie at Starbucks. After-all, social occasions and circumstances will happen!-- but the point is to gain knowledge & to make "natural food" the majority of the food you ingest and that you let your kids ingest. 

A little Game

Pick up a boxed item at the grocery store next time and challenge yourself to GUESS all the ingredients you believe should make up the product before turning the box! As if you were to cook that product at home, what ingredients would you use?
First thing that pops in my head is coco puffs.

I personally would guess: wheat, cocoa, sugar, a natural emulsifier, milk powder & honey. 
6 ingredients.

The actual ingredients of coco puffs: Whole grain corn sugar, corn meal, corn syrup, canola oil, processed cocoa, added color, salt, fructose (more sugar), natural and artificial flavors,  trisodium phosphate & BHT added to preserve freshness. 12 ingredients.


Make "natural foods" the MAJORITY of the ingredients in your diet. Having a burger or guilty pleasure every once in a while won't harm you. Although, you can rest assured that ingesting small amounts of synthetic foods from many different sources every day, WILL have an effect!
Taste does not have to be compromised whatsoever, there are endless sources of recipes to achieve yummy chocolate chip cookies, muffins, even pasta sauces, soups, and other treats. It will simply take more time to prepare, but the end result can be identical if not (in most cases) more wholesome, better tasting and of course, healthier!