I’ve been meaning to put together a post listing the foods Garrett can eat for quite some time. One of those pet projects that is always on the back burner. I wanted to do it just so I remember what foods he can eat (we tend to forget some of them as he gets in food ruts) and also to help other parents who are in the awful discovery phase and have no idea what to feed their children. One of my best friends, Emeth, has discovered that her youngest son has extreme food allergies just like Garrett. They are allergic to all of the same foods plus Garrett has a few more.
Here are Garrett’s known food allergies (all IgE mediated) at age 2 years and 4 months:
Egg, Wheat, Dairy, Soy, Peanut, Sesame seed, Sunflower seed, lentils and beans in general (we’re not sure if all yet), pea, chickpea, dog and rice.
Rice is the only food we have not removed from his diet. We have not seen any reaction to it so far. Other foods he is in jeopardy of losing based on previous skin prick testing are chicken, beef, corn and potato. If it gets to that point I’m not sure what we’ll do since those are staple foods he relies on now.
Also, as a quick note to family and friends. This is what you can do for us, well for Garrett mostly. Please try not to be sorry for him. I know we will all feel it on the inside but it’s our job to work through those emotions for him. Trust that God will protect and provide for these children and show it in the way you react to their restrictions. As Garrett is getting older he is listening more to what people say. Please stop making comments about how awful it must be or how hard it must be for him not to eat such and such, or “poor guy” or what have you. Trust me, I go through so many days when this is what I am thinking and I have “why me” moments for both him and I. But I don’t want to hold Garrett back and I don’t want to dwell on the negative. Let’s be thankful for what he CAN eat. Let’s be thankful that he has the chance to live on this earth, to have a family and to be a part of Heavenly Father’s plan. Let’s be thankful that he is one of the lucky children whose allergies were discovered and removed from his diet before it was too late. It does Garrett a disservice to feel sorry for him. Feeling sorry for someone has never helped them to rise above their challenge in life. For now, and the foreseeable future, food is Garrett’s challenge. But you know, it doesn’t hold him back. He doesn’t know any better. He still loves life, is his happy ornery self and doesn’t look back. The emotions are more a challenge for us to deal with, to place into Heavenly Father’s hands and move on with faith and thankfulness.
I say all of this just as much for me as I do for the people that I love and that love Garrett. Just as it does no good to dwell on the “why me” of being blind, or deaf or physically or mentally handicapped it does no good to dwell on food that does the body harm. We all have our mountain to conquer, let’s equip those we love that face this mountain to face it, embrace it and climb it.
Someday I’ll organize this better but since I’m short on time here is just a thrown together list. I’m focusing on processed and packaged foods since it’s easy to say “eat an orange or eat some broccoli. Obviously you can eat/make any of these foods from scratch. I will also list the places we get these foods for those that are local. I have found that the best, most affordable, resource is Trader Joes.
Without getting into the negative of living life and parenting such a high “food needs” child. Here is what Garrett CAN eat:
- Spaghetti made with brown rice noodles (noodles from TJ)
- Homemade chili
- Homemade Potato Soup with steamed cauliflower to make it creamy (I will post recipe later)
- All beef natural hot dogs from Trader Joes
- All natural bacon
- Sausage and rice, cook the rice in chicken broth
- Spaghetti sauce and rice
- Wheat and Dairy free waffles from Trader Joes
- Hashbrown patties from Trader Joes
- Joe’s O’s cereal from Trader Joes (this is like Cheerios but without wheat in them)
- Rice milk
- Rice Krispies
- Ironically enough: Captain Crunch, Cocoa Puffs
- French fries
- Tater Tots
- Oat & Honey Crunchy Granola Bars – Trader Joes
- Organic Olive Oil & Salt popcorn – Trader Joes
- Rice Balls – Trader Joes (a puffed snack made from rice)
- prepared Corned Beef & Hash – Trader Joes
- Instant organic Oatmeal: Maple and Brown Sugar, Apples & Cinnamon – Trader Joes
- Gorilla Munch (cereal made from Corn) – Trader Joes
- Puffins (cereal) – Trader Joes
- Mashed potatoes made with chicken broth
- Precooked frozen chicken strips – Costco (very handy. Garrett needs a lot of meat protein and we don’t keep a lot of raw meat on hand)
- Meatballs and rice – Haggens (For some reason he can tolerate the Bourbon honey meatballs from haggens they have a little bit of soy and wheat in the sauce)
- Ketchup – it saves a lot of meals for him. He usually eats grilled chicken plain now but before that he dipped it in ketchup
- Barbeque sauce from Trader Joes
- Freeze Dried Mangoes – Trader Joes
- Steemed carrots (Garrett doesn’t like many vegetables but I just chop some baby carrots, throw them in a bowl with a little water, cover most of the way with plastic wrap and nuke for a few minutes. He loves them. )
- Canned fruit (peaches, pears, tropical fruit medley, mandarin oranges)
- fresh fruit
- Exotic Rice Toast crackers “Jasmine Rice & Spring Onion” – Food Co-op (Garrett lives and breathes these crackers. They are yummy and he’ll eat an entire package in one day if I let him).
- Hillshire summer sausage
- lunch meat ham and turkey
- White rice (he enjoys eating it plain)
- Taco meat (eaten with corn chips, mixed with rice, eaten in a corn taco shell – the ones from TJ’s he can eat)
- “Sugar bread” this is Brown Rice bread with garrett’s “butter” and cinnamon and sugar (We get our rice bread from Trader Joes and keep it in the freezer and toast it on the highest setting from frozen)
- “Butter” we use Spectrums Organic Shortening which is made from palm oil and is non-hydrogenated
- A birthday cake – we made a Rice Krispy cake using spectrum shortening instead of butter and put dots and sprinkles on it and shaped it in a cake shape.
- Rice cakes
- Corn puffs (cereal) – Food Co-op
- Kettle Barbecue Flavored chips – Fred Meyer (one of his favorite foods)
- Carmel Corn (Trader Joes)
- Soda (he loves it and gets it when we go to restaurants)
- to go fruit cups
- Squeezable fruit pouches from Trader Joes, apple and carrot (He loves these but they are expensive)
- Candy (he can eat pretty much any type of candy that is not chocolate based but not taffy – it has egg and butter. His favorites are Dots and skittles and suckers)
- quinoa and rice blend – Costco
- frozen rice individual packs – Trader Joes
- homemade chocolate chip cookies – recipe later
I will list more foods as I think of them. This is just a short list I came up with off the top of my head this morning. Most of the foods listed are our “to go” foods. The foods that usually travel with us in the car or to people’s houses, etc. It is difficult to feed them anywhere else than home and toddlers need to eat constantly so that is why I listed so many processed items. You’ll notice Garrett’s diet isn’t very balanced. It is mostly meat, carbs, fruit and veggies. Garrett doesn’t like veggies much and other than carrots, corn and potatoes it is hard to get him to eat them. We can’t wait until our vitamix that we’ll get later this month which should really help increase his veggie consumption. We also survive by giving Garrett a liquid vitamin supplement: GBG’s 10-in-1.
Here are some foods Garrett can no longer eat but that he enjoyed before he lost them. Maybe these will help someone else:
- Frito’s bean dip
- lentil soup
- Sunbutter (as a peanut butter alternative)
A few things I’ve noticed over time with Garrett:
Garrett’s reactions are worse when he’s sick or after he’s been sick. This is because his overall inflammation has been high and I suspect that the good bacteria in his gut is lower and thus he has a harder time digesting food in general. He will react to foods he does not normally react to when he’s been sick
Going out to restaurants with kids like Garrett is tough. It will get easier as he gets older and less picky. I can’t wait until he can order a steak, for example. For now Garrett eats way too many fries and tater tots for his age. At most restaurants he’ll eat fries and whatever fresh fruit they carry. At restaurants that carry rice we get steamed rice. Oh, and soda. He loves root beer.
This will not be the answer for everyone but it sure has helped me. I had to learn to let go of my ideal nutrition. Should a toddler have lots of soda and candy ideally? No, of course not but Garrett does. Should a small child eat a lot of French Fries? No, but Garrett does. Should kids eat products that have corn syrup in them? No, no one should but Garrett does. My stress factor went way down when I just learned to let go. If Garrett can physically eat it, I usually let him. Obviously, I try to limit as much as possible or find healthier alternatives to the same food but I’m learning to relax. I think healthy, whole foods are important but so is sanity. I can not describe how frustrating it is that my son can not eat a bowl of lentils and rice or fresh bread but can easily eat McDonalds french fries, DOTS that are full of unimaginable chemical horrors and corn syrup laden anything. I find it very ironic actually but I’ve learned to let go.
From early on be okay with saying “not for Garrett” (insert your child’s name). Don’t be really apologetic about it. Be simple and to the point. I sometimes give a simple, “I’m sorry” but I don’t make a big deal out of it. Explain that it will make him sick and offer an alternative he can have. Always have food on hand that is okay to eat. I always try to have something he really likes on hand, just in case. Try to find something he can eat from wherever you are. You’ll find quickly that your child doesn’t just want something from home when you are out and about. Fries and fruit exist almost at every restaurant so get some of that and then supplement with things you bring from home.
In terms of baking, good luck. I’ve tried many different cook books that are supposed to be great for allergic kids and with how much we have to substitute the end result is usually pretty awful. I have found a decent chocolate chip cookie recipe if the cookies are kept in the fridge they hold their shape okay and they taste good. But most other baked products I’ve tried have been a waste of money. They typically have bad texture. As he gets older we’ll make some more attempts.
Smile, it could be worse. Pray, when it is.