Guest post by Anne from When Food is Dangerous and Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy
These days, it seems like everyone has to deal with diet restrictions, either for themselves or a family member. Diets can be restricted by a variety of health conditions. Diabetes, heart disease, food allergies, food sensitivities, bowel diseases, celiac disease and lactose intolerance are just a few reasons some people are forced to change their diet — sometimes drastically.
Making the necessary changes can be daunting, especially when you begin to research the costs for replacements and substitutions. I should know! My husband has ulcerative colitis, a condition that does not allow him to eat either excessively fibrous or highly acidic foods, and my son has multiple severe food allergies.
Learning how to cope with these varied diets on a limited budget has stretched my creativity to say the least. If you are struggling in a similar situation, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:
1. Focus On Foods You Can Have
For most people, whole foods are still an acceptable and desirable part of their diet: meats, fruits, vegetables, and certain grains, seeds and nuts. Focusing on those foods will not only make you healthier, but help you stick to your budget. Avoid overly processed foods with long lists of ingredients that could create dietary issues.
2. Make It Yourself
Instead of purchasing items like breads, sweets and snacks, learn how to make them yourself. That way you know exactly what ingredients go into each food item and you can tweak recipes to meet your dietary needs.
I learned early on how to make bread that strikes the balance between my own and my husband’s dietary needs – a mix of whole grains and regular all-purpose flour. For my son, I’ve learned how to make everything from granola bars to fruit leather so as to provide healthy, inexpensive snacks that are safe for him.
3. Find Inexpensive Substitutions
This may require some creativity. My husband can’t have tomato sauce, so when it comes to pizza and pasta, I have learned to come up with a variety of creative sauces. Instead of pizza sauce, for example, I use barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, alfredo sauce, or even just olive oil and some herbs. One of my favorite pasta sauce substitutes is actually pumpkin-based!
4. Research Sources for Necessary Substitutions
When first learning about my son’s allergies, I spent a great deal of time researching both local and internet-only sources for flour substitutions because of his wheat allergy.
I learned that the Walmart Supercenter is surprisingly the cheapest source for rice and chickpea flours. Amazon.com’s Subscribe and Save program is probably the cheapest way to purchase Bob’s Red Mill grains and flours, among other foods. Local ethnic markets can also be great inexpensive sources for things like tapioca starch or other food alternatives. I have found that a locally owned organic market is the cheapest place to buy coconut milk and coconut milk yogurt, which I substitute for regular dairy products in my son’s diet.
5. Forego Unnecessary Substitutions
This one can be very difficult. My husband simply has to live without some foods he used to love, even healthy foods, like spinach and corn on the cob. There just are no substitutes for those foods!
For my son, the choice was a matter of budget. The only “cheeses” and store-bought breads he can eat are prohibitively expensive, so he simply does without. Except for basic food substitutions, like the coconut milk, I almost never buy him specially made and packaged “allergen-free” foods. I either make it myself or forego it altogether because the cost is not worth it to me. And let’s be honest, most of those substitutes taste nothing like the real thing, so what’s the point, anyway?
6. Find Mainstream Foods That Are Safe
This principle applies particularly to food-allergy sufferers, but has useful applications for other diets, like gluten- or lactose-free. You don’t really need to shop from the “allergen-free” section at the health food store, and that should be a relief to you if you’ve ever taken a peek at those prices!
Instead, be a detective, and take some time to browse the detailed nutrition information on packaged foods to find ones that are naturally free of allergens, or whatever food it is you have to avoid. I discovered early on that while my son could not have the traditional Cheerios or Gerber Puffs as a first finger food, Kix were a safe option. As a toddler, he still loves them, and I buy them whenever I can get them cheap on sale and with a coupon.
Similarly, I’ve found a variety of safe snacks and convenience foods — all available in any regular grocery store, and often available for cheap on sale and with coupons — that I keep on hand for those times when making his food myself is not an option, or for when we’re on the road without the usual emergency snack or meal from home. Of course, when dealing with allergies, always proceed with caution when trying a new food.
7. Expand Your Palate
Because of our various diet restrictions, certain foods I used to dislike, or had never experienced, began to creep into my regular menu. For example, I never had much experience with winter squash because my mom never cooked with it. However, since my husband has a limited range of fruits and vegetables he can safely eat, I’ve realized it’s necessary to incorporate all that he can eat, and that includes winter squash! I’ve found some really creative ways to hide it in foods while we adjust ourselves to the taste and texture.
When I was nursing my son and was therefore on his restricted diet, I found that almond milk was my favorite substitute for cow’s milk, and since then, I’ve learned to buy it when on sale — with coupons of course! — to use as a cheaper substitute for baking and cooking.
8. Look For the Silver Lining… and Give Thanks For It!
This is sometimes difficult for me when I get discouraged by the amount of money or time I spend on making and procuring safe foods for my family. It’s imperative, though, that I keep my mind focused on the blessings to be found in our enforced diets: for one thing, we all eat a lot healthier than we would otherwise! A positive perspective goes a long way in helping me continue to improve my efforts to provide safe, healthy, and affordable foods for my family.
Anne Simpson blogs about living with life-threatening food allergies at When Food is Dangerous, and about preparing healthy foods without sacrificing time or money at Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy. She is mentally preparing herself for whatever dietary needs her second son may have when he arrives early next year!
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photo credits: kaintuckeean; Elana’s Pantry
The world of food allergies and intolerances is something no one asks for! It can be a whirlwind of emotions, especially in the beginning (and at birthdays and holidays!). You words are a total encouragement. Thank you! Between my 2 children, we have 2 anaphylactic allergies and a fructose intolerance (this one is the hardest of all!). I found after spending an arm and a leg on processed allergen-friendly foods that I could make just about all of them, we could do without, or there were cheaper, mainstream-store alternatives (basically all you just posted about!). Allergies have been a blessing in a way because we ALL eat so much healthier now!
5 of the 6 of us are wheat/gluten free, dairy free and soy free. Mostly soy free not completely. My husband is the only one that can eat the SAD. I cook for all of the “allergies”and he eats whatever I cook. He does eat wheat bread and whatever he wants at work and his baked goods usually have wheat in them, but I don’t bake that often for him. I have found alot of the suggestions you made work for us as well. But I also frequent the RAW food blogs for ideas. We eat more fresh fruits and veggies than anything else as opposed to buying the processed gluten free packaged mixes etc. I usually can find a good recipe on the raw blogs for sweets. I have also learned of a new to me diet that is supposed to cure allergies and I have been researching that. The diet is call the GAPS diet ( Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet). I looks to be quite labor intensive, but if it worked then it would be so worth it. I should also add that our “allergies” aren’t life threatening, but rather cause behavioral and digestive as well as a few other issues. Mostly though, the “allergies” are a pain in the patoot! But, we do what we have to, in order to be healthy, and make our peace with how things are, because what else can we do?
@Julie, So true!
I would highly recommend “Fasting Can Save Your Life” by Herbert Shelton to anyone suffering from food or chemical sensitivities – really any auto-immune disease. Also, for those who can’t eat high-fiber veggies and fruit, a Vita-Mix or other high powered blended may help. When my colitis was bad spinach came out – well to put it bluntly – looking just like spinach. My body couldn’t break it down at all. Mixing it with fruit in the Vita-Mix not only made it taste good, but made it where my body could use some nutrients, too. (actually, if the colitis is really bad fasting is the way to start, then move on to juiced veggies, then smoothies, then solids). For those of you who feel hopeless, I am living proof that you can be healed!
@Jody, My , DH’s colitis is in “remission” or however you want to describe it. At any rate, it’s not active at the moment. However, because he has had some scares in the past, he’s really nervous about what he eats. We’ve slowly added some things back into his diet over the years, but he’s still really nervous about some things, like spinach. Tomato and pineapple definitely bother him, so we avoid those completely.
Great post, I am dealing with the dietary changes in my family as well. I am the primary one who has changed my diet for health reasons, etc. and have to cook differently and buy a variety of different products to accommodate my own food preparation. Yes, some days it is discouraging, esp. when my husband and daughter can eat whatever they want, but then I look at the positive…I feel much better, havent dealt with allergies nor have I gotten the cold that my family is dealing with now! Also, its encouraging when they enjoy the new foods that I cook.
Thanks so much for this encouraging post!
@Nisha, Thanks! And glad you are doing well on your new diet!
we don’t have an allergy issue but I love this post- thanks for sharing it!
Anna Larson says
This is a really excellent post. Excellent ideas, practical, realistic, and the nuts and bolts of special diets on a budget. Thanks!
@Anna Larson, Thanks!
Could anyone point me to a really good recipe for yeast free bread. I have trieds for years to make this and it all tastes like biscuits or turns out like a brick. I buy my bread from Deland Bakery and they ship it to me but it costs about $100 for 24 units. I have a separate budget catagory just for my bread so that when I need to order it the money is there. I am not allergic to any grains so the recipe can be wheat based.
@Lana, Wow, that’s a tough one! I, fortunately, have never had to bake bread without yeast, so I’m afraid I’m not much help.
I love that this blog routinely recognizes those of us with food allergies/intolerances! I found out I was gluten intolerant nearly 2 years ago and it was completely overwhelming. As soon as I got done with eating breakfast, I would obsess about what was safe to eat for lunch. After lunch, I’d start obsessing about dinner. It was a nightmare! Now I’m used to it, but it’s very challenging to have to eat this way in a rural area with very limited resources and no support group. Every quarter, I make the nearly 100 mile round trip drive to Sprouts and Whole Foods to stock up on things. We purchased a small deep chest freezer, which made it much easier to take advantage of sales. Sprouts has a 25% off GF sale 3-4 times a year, which is helpful, plus Mambo Sprouts has some great GF coupons. I’ve even started to see GF coupons in the regular inserts! I also travel to GF food fairs when I can because they’re usually worth the drive just for all the free samples. I’ve received free full-sized items many times over at food fairs.
I try to focus mostly on natural GF products, as this post mentioned, but darn it, I like bread, crackers, etc., and I don’t feel I should apologize for it. I just try to save in other areas of life. DH can eat whatever he wants, so I still find free pasta and things for him, which helps to keep the grocery bill down. He’s very aware of cross contamination, and he’s super supportive, so having a combined kitchen isn’t an issue for us since it’s just us two. I know he’d go GF with me, but darn, men can sure put it away like they have hollow legs, LOL. (And of course he eats twice as much as I do but never gains a pound, which is so not fair!) I’d hate to think how much we’d spend on groceries if he went GF with me.
DH works a goofy midshift, so I usually eat alone in the evening since I work days. That’s mostly when I make my special pasta, pizza, or some dish he doesn’t like, such as salmon. The two times a week we do eat together, I will make meat and veggies and not make separate meals.
I have learned a lot about menu planning and freezer cooking from this blog. Eating GF can be hard, so to have the week’s meals already pre-planned is a huge help! And I like cooking up taco meat, chicken, pork, etc., ahead of time and throwing it in the freezer. One big plus is that GF food freezes beautifully, so it’s easy to make some buckwheat pancakes or some biscuits and throw them in the freezer. And thank goodness for the internet! Since I don’t have a local support group, I find support on the ‘net. I don’t know what people did without it! 🙂
@Jennifer, Amen! I’d still be pulling out my hair and sobbing in the kitchen if it weren’t for the amazing resources I’ve found on the internet!
What a great post! I am the culprit of food sensitivities in my family. It seemed very upsetting at first how much more the new foods cost as opposed to the foods I used to eat. Have learned that it’s ok if I do have to spend more than other people do on their foods. It can be frustrating but I’ve learned to be thankful that my health is not worse.
My hardest part is visiting friends/family and church/work parties. Never knowing what all is in each food. I hate asking the hosts or those who brought it!
@Beth, That is difficult: trying to be polite but grilling hosts about the food they’re serving. I always feel awkward, but I have to do it or my son suffers the consequences. I’ve found that most people are more than willing to be helpful and share how they prepared the food, or give me the package for ingredient listings.
A few years ago, Iwrote a post on my blog about “why” God would allow my son to be born with life-threatening food allergies. http://elisarose.blogspot.com/2007/09/why-eli-has-allergies.html
He is now almost 6 years old. Every year we travel to Duke for his annual allergy check-up. He is a sweet, loving child who knows that God made him very special. He has amazed me with his attitude towards his allergies – he has embraced them as a gift from God and shows great empathy towards anyone else who is suffering. It has also been a gift to the rest of the family (we have 6 children total). The rest of the kids all take a special interest in keeping Eli safe from unsafe foods – even the 2 year old! Although it was difficult in the beginning to learn how to read labels and cook without certain ingredients, Eli wouldn’t be who he is without the food allergies he has – they are an integral part of him and I wouldn’t want him any differently. Although we are hopeful that he may grow out of some of his allergies, we are grateful for everything we have learned because of them. I have no doubt that God will use these allergies in some way through Eli to bring glory to His name.
@Elisabeth, Thanks for sharing your post – I loved it! It’s difficult to understand the collision of man’s sinfulness and God’s sovereignty, and sometimes I have a hard time accepting that God did, indeed, allow – or even plan – for my son to have food allergies. Who knows what His purpose is in it, or what good will come of it? But you are right, for certain He will use it for His glory if we allow Him to.
Thank you for the post. All three of my children have food allergies (milk, egg, peanuts, treenuts and soy) and I am on an elimination diet so I can nurse my little guy. I have a blog that reviews allergy-free foods and I also post recipes that are budget friendly and allergy friendly (most do have gluten- which we can have, but are free of dairy, eggs, nuts and soy) http://tooblessed-tobestressed.blogspot.com/. Other blogs that I have found to be helpful and have recipes that are budget conscious are foodallergymama.com (desserts and snacks that are milk, egg and nut free) and 5dollardinners.com (she has recipes that are gluten and dairy free).
@Amanda, Wow, all three with allergies, that’s rough. I like foodallergymama and 5dollardinners also, although for my son, it’s most useful to have recipes that avoid all top 8 allergens.
Ashley Nolan says
Thanks so much for this post and the encouragement it offers! I have found that I am wheat intolerant in the last year. While my health has dramatically improved, my budget has suffered along with frustrations of what can I eat? Anyway, thanks for this post again and the tips offered!
@Ashley Nolan, You’re welcome! Your health is definitely worth the budget and emotional frustrations!
Thank you for this wonderful post! My oldest daughter has some severe allergies, but we have also made some of the same changes you have mentioned here. I feel like I get a lot of weird looks for just making my own granola bars/chicken nuggets/snacks/bread, and it’s nice to see that there’s someone else out there that knows we don’t have to spend a ton of money on prepackaged foods to serve our families great, healthy food!
@Ellen, Yes, I feel really weird too sometimes, especially when I bring his food into restaurants. Thankfully, we live in a time when food allergies are more prevalent, so it’s not as weird as it would have been 10 years ago or so. Those food allergy “pioneers” had it much worse!
Our monthly food budget has more than doubled since going gluten free (youngest and I have Celiac so the whole family eats gf for my sanity). It was so hard at first. It was totally against my frugal nature, but I realize it was what we had to do to be safe. I don’t buy a lot of “extras” like gf cookies, crackers etc. We eat a lot of naturally gluten free fruits, cheese, yogurt (thank God we don’t have a casein intolerance….yet!). I am also allergic to eggs, peanuts, walnuts and corn…it’s depressing at times, but that is when I have to get creative. I have given up most of my “frugal bloggers” because it just got me down to see them snagging deals that I couldn’t. I do keep this one and one other for savings in other areas like shampoo, soap, cleaners, clothes etc. that help to off set our outrageous food budget for a family of five (think rent for a small apartment..YIKES!).
@Tai, I can see how cooking/baking gluten-free for an entire family could get very expensive! I agree, though, it’s worth it to avoid having to cook and bake separate things for everyone.
I can totally relate to this article and all the comments! My daughters and I eat gluten-free, and my husband and girls seem to be lactose intolerant, plus a few other random food allergies. My biggest source of gluten-free comfort is buying Pamela’s products in bulk on Amazon.com. They are the best substitutes I have found, although the product I use most often is not entirely dairy-free. I also get rice pasta and crackers at Trader Joe’s for a very reasonable price. Other than that, I tend to try to make it up from scratch when I can’t find a cheap substitute, and it usually works pretty well! Still more expensive than an average grocery bill would be (especially with coupons), but not overwhelming. Great to hear from others who have this issue!
@Jessica, Oh, yes, I buy the rice pasta at Trader Joe’s all the time! (Walmart now also carries an inexpensive gluten-free pasta.)
Heather@Family Friendly Frugality says
What an awesome post. Having 2 family members with such severe food allergies has got to be very difficult. You sound so positive and encouraging. We don’t really have food allergies in our family, but I have a friend who has twins who are allergic to everything.
They were in my MDO class a couple of years ago, and their mom was much like you. She didn’t buy fancy substitutions, just found “regular” foods that they could eat (they also ate Kix!).
Luckily they have grown out of a LOT of their allergies, I hope the same happens for your son!
@Heather@Family Friendly Frugality, Thanks! You are too kind. 🙂
Thank you for your post. My three children all have food allergies (milk, eggs, peanuts, treenuts and soy) and I am on an elimination diet of all those foods in order to nurse my little guy. I have started a blog about our families food allergies where I review allergen friendly foods and have budget friendly recipes (most of my recipes are not wheat free- one of the major allergens we can have, but are dairy, egg, nut and soy free)
brooke lynn says
great post. would love to hear any good gluten free recipes if you have any. maybe the fruit leather recipe?
@brooke lynn, I do wheat-free rather than gluten-free (subtle but distinct difference), and you can find those recipes at my allergy blog (When Food is Dangerous). I learned the best technique for fruit leather from Katie at Kitchen Stewardship, in her Healthy Snacks to Go eBook. I haven’t blogged about it personally yet, but you can find that recipe there.
Thank you for this post. It is encouraging. My 14-month old daughter is allergic to rice, dairy, soy, wheat, gluten, oats, rye, barley, egg whites and peanuts. So far…our kitchen is a mess and I swing emotionally from “it’s ok – she’ll be a meat, potatoes and veggies girl” to “she’ll never have a birthday cake or Happy Meal”. You are right though about focussing on what foods she can have. And building off of those. One of the hardest parts of this season is losing the ability to relate to all the frugal blogs with coupons for foods we can’t use, weekly menus and freezer plans that have nothing we can use, and recipes we can’t touch. They used to inspire – now they depress. So I’m in the slow process of finding new blogs about allergy foods and recipes to inspire, and to quit being upset that I can’t just do the normal store deals, and learning to buy the best and freshest “ok” foods in season for the best price. And if costs more, so be it. (And I still love the Money Saving Mom blog.)
@Katherine, I totally understand where you are coming from!! It can get so frustrating. Is your daughter allergic to all oats or can she have gluten free oats? You can grind gluten free oats (which are $$ best bet is amazon) to make an “oat flour”. There are bloggers out there that can help!! Looking at her restrictions, with a few substitutes like egg replacer, you might be ablet to make her cupcakes with almond flour or coconut flour. I don’t know if it is “allowed” to share other websites on here, but from one mom to another, check out Elanaspantry.com (she uses egg but you may be able to tweak it) and Adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com (She lists all the different subs you can make to keep the recipe allergen free). Hope that helps! In the long run our food budgets are greater than we would like but our children are healthy and our medical bills we be significantly less!!
@Tai, Thank you – we’re not sure about regular oats vs. certified GF oats – just know it’s a less than 5 minute reaction when she gets them. (She’s my first so I’m learning about watching for crumbs on the floor, plus the cross-contamination issues.) Will definitely check out those blogs. We are so blessed – despite all the allergies and reactions, my daughter thrives. I know that is not the case with many allergic children.
@Katherine, If her allergy is to oats, it’s the oats and not the gluten that will cause a reaction, meaning even gluten-free oats would not be safe.
We are gluten, rice and dairy free here, but I was also egg free for a while when I was nursing. I came up with a GF flour blend that does not rely on rice flour that might be helpful to you. I found with substitutions that once I got the flour down, the rest were managable. Here is the link to my blog post with the flour recipe. http://mudpiesandcranberryteagoallergenfree.blogspot.com/2010/05/rice-free-gluten-free-flour-blend.html
@Lyn, Oh my goodness – thank you for sharing that flour blend. I’ve been wondering if sorghum flour could be substituted for rice flour in the GF blends I’d seen online. We’ll definitely start with your flour blend once we start working with baked goods. I bought a bunch of the different GF flours to make a blend a few weeks ago but after discovering more “reactive” foods, we’ve decided to concentrate on trying new vegetables and fruits for now, then meats/poultry, then back to baked goods. Thank you.
@Katherine, I was in your shoes three years ago. It does get easier, but the emotions still swing. I’ve been able to add some things back in, but it’s still so limited that we can’t really eat at other people’s houses…they come here. But, it’s totally worth it to keep these kiddos healthy! 🙂 We mommies just have to be there to support each other. Thank God for the internet!!!
@Katherine, Wow, that’s quite a list of allergens. I know exactly how you feel; I was in that same emotional place for a while (and still occasionally visit it 🙂 ). Check out my allergy blog for some ideas (although I do use oats fairly frequently, so not all the recipes will be useful for you) and some encouragement 🙂
@Anne, Thank you, Anne. I was checking out your blog earlier this morning. 🙂
You may want to check out Karina’s Gluten Free Goddess blog (http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/) too. She has a long list of food sensitivities including gluten, dairy & eggs and she does a LOT of baking recipes. And she doesn’t like rice flours so she usually uses sorghum, millet and buckwheat flours instead (which in my opinion taste better, once you get used to not eating wheat, and are better for you).
My daughter is allergic to dairy and eggs. At first I remember going to the health food store and trying to buy all the prepackaged things I was used to – but making sure they were safe for her. Yeah, that didn’t last long because it was very expensive.
I have found substitutes and specific brands that work well for her. I watch for sales and use coupons as best I can. I did estimate one time though, that I spend about $40 a month on foods for her or brands that she can eat too. This includes soy milk, rice milk (for baking), egg replacer, etc. I could limit things for her, but I worry that she doesn’t get enough calcium, so I make sure to buy the milks she likes so it isn’t a battle, or stress for me. Great post, it certainly doesn’t have to cost a fortion to deal with specific issues. You just have to be willing to change the way you do things.
@Jennifer, I did the same thing at first! I quickly realized that the taste of some of those substitutes (cheese in particular) was simply not worth the exorbitant cost.
At least egg replacer is cheap. I use it often in my house with no food allergies. I put it in some of my baked items to save my more expensive “farm” eggs for breakfast and other items were the taste of the egg in important.
@chris, Another egg substitute is 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 1/2 Tbsp. water, 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil mixed together. This works in baking to substitute up to 2 eggs.
@chris, This is a great idea, and something I’ve often thought of trying even for the non-allergen-free food that I bake for myself and my husband. I find that either the EnerG egg replacer or flax gel makes the absolute best egg substitute in baking.
🙂 Great tips. I am the one with a restricted diet at my house, so sometimes I will make something for supper for everyone else that I can’t eat, and then throw a fish fillet in the toaster oven for myself. That way, I can make use of some really great deals, and my husband and son get to enjoy some foods that I don’t prepare often.
I also really miss tomatoes on my pizza, here is the recipe that I’ve worked out where you wouldn’t notice that they were missing unless it was pointed out to you: http://randomcreativity.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/tomato-free-pizza/
@RandomCreativity, I bookmarked your recipe so I can try it when I have all the ingredients! Thanks for the link.
@RandomCreativity, Tomatoes are an allergy problem at our house too and I just leave the pizza sauce off the pizza and make it like a regular pizza. Works for eating out too.
Armour chili is tomato free. I use it as a base (bean free variety) for spagetti sauce and sloppy joes and the varity with beans makes a really good chili if you add some browned ground chuck to it and thin it with water. This chili does contain wheat though. For the spagetti sauce I add ground chuck, italian seasoning and lots of garlic, you need to overseason it a bit to cover the chili taste. For sloppy joes I add sugar and vinegar to taste-start small-tablespoon amounts.
@Lana, That sounds like a product I should check out for my DH. Is it in regular grocery stores? I don’t recognize the brand. And is it very spicy? He can’t handle a lot of spice, but mild is OK.
@Anne, It is at the regular grocery stores. The label is blue. It is some spicy to me. It gets hot if you freeze it. My mom found that Albertson’s has their own brand of chili that is tomato free but I think it all has beans. She wizzes it up in the blender for nonbean dishes but I don’t like the texture of that. There is also a tomato free chili starter that my mom buys that I cannot find where I live but I can’t remember the brand of that. I believe it has beans.
@Anne, I struggled with my digestive system for 20 years so I know some of your husbands’ struggle. Probiotics helped to some degree but I have gotten much better by taking Vit C because it kills the bad bacteria. It really seemed to burn my stomach at first but I jave adjusted to it and have been able to stop the acid reducing drugs entirely. I am better than I have been in 25 years.
Brooklyn@Allergies Schmalleriges says
We have learned to live on a resticted diet due to my youngest’s food allergies. It’s hard at the beginning because you are out of your element. But, you make things work! While I look at food allergies as a curse it’s also a blessing because my family probably won’t be eating this healthy if not.
@Brooklyn@Allergies Schmalleriges, Hey, I’ve been to your blog before and read your story! How frustrating, trying to narrow down what exactly is affecting your daughter. Good for you, for keeping your attitude so positive and working so hard to help her. I am so with you on the weight gain issues – my son was not even on the chart for the longest time, and even now weighs MUCH less than his peers. I hope you’re able to figure out all her allergies and sensitivities soon.
Mara ~ Kosher on a Budget says
This is a great post, so encouraging. We don’t have major food allergies in our family, but we do have a fairly strict diet due to keeping kosher for religious reasons. A lot of the inexpensive or sale/coupon items aren’t kosher, so we’ve had to get creative. We actually use a lot of your suggestions, including foregoing substitutions.
Another thing that I find very helpful is to focus on lowering my out-of-pocket costs as much as possible on everything but the restricted foods. This way, I have a bit more wiggle room in my budget for the *occasional* splurge on $5/lb chicken breasts or ground beef (or $14/lb brisket).
@Mara ~ Kosher on a Budget, Good tip!
The Prudent Homemaker says
Another thing that you can do is purchase a grain grinder that is capable of grinding things like rice and chickpeas into flour. Many grain grinders do this. While the initial cost of the grinder is an investment, it can save you a lot of money in the long run as you can purchase beans and rice in bulk for grinding. Pleasant Hill Grain has a great comparison on different grinders. I bought my grinders through them and I was very pleased with their service (and they shipped very quickly!).
Also, for those who drink soymilk, you can also buy soynuts in bulk and make your own soymilk (and tofu) with a soymilk maker.
@The Prudent Homemaker, This is one of my goals for the future, and a great tip for anyone who has the money, time and space. I don’t have money or space at the moment (we live in an apartment currently), but I hope to invest in a grain grinder at some point when I DO have the money and space 🙂
@The Prudent Homemaker,
I bought a Vitamix with both a wet and dry container. The wet container allows me to make my own soymilk/almond milk and the dry container allows me to grind up rice, millet, quinoa, etc to make my gluten free flours much cheaper. Of course a Vitamix is a very expensive investment (mine was $550) but I use it all the time as a very powerful blender and food processor. I even make my own natural peanut butter/almond butter with it.
what a great post! thanks
Jen G. says
Thank you for the wealth of information on coping with food allergies. Your advice was very inspirational for those of us who deal with these issues. I am lucky that my youngest only has a dairy allergy – and know that many people have many, many more resetrictions.
@Jen G., Thank you! It is difficult to have multiple restrictions, but any life-threatening allergy is scary and life-changing.
Thank you so much for this post. My 16 month old daughter is allergic to dairy, corn, wheat, and eggs, so I was quite overwhelmed when I realized how my cooking and food budget needed to change. It’s always nice to hear that we’re not the only ones dealing with this, and there are great ways to still feed your family whole foods on a budget. Our family has found a new appreciation for our local farmers market as we look for trusted suppliers of our food, and it’s fun for the family too!
@Jennifer, Yes, I especially love taking our son to the farmer’s market. He enjoys checking out all the different produce and trying out new things. When he was just 8 or 9 months, we let him try an apricot at the farmer’s market, and he gobbled that thing up in 30 seconds 🙂
Great article! I have had a topsy turvy relationship with my digestive system and have been on just about every modified diet in the book trying to locate the cause and balance things out so I understand how difficult it is having to deal with special diets. Your advice is very good. The key for me was when I started thinking about what great new things I wanted to make tomorrow, instead of lamenting over what I could no longer eat from days gone by, but I am a total foodie!
Here is one of my favorite recipes for winter squash. It really brings out the best aspects of squash in my opinion and the ingredient list is so simple that hopefully it will work for your family!
@Kory, What happened to the recipe? I’m always looking for new ones 🙂
@Chrys, I have the same question:) I love cooking with winter squash.
@Anne, Oops! Sorry guys. http://markbittman.com/dinner-with-bittman-butternut-squash-braised
Excellent read! We don’t have food restrictions but you article was written for anyone looking to eat less processed foods.
@Danielle, Thanks! I do try to limit processed foods as well so I guess that perspective shines through.
We’ve learned that water and lemon juice make a suitable substitute for “sour milk” or buttermilk in many recipes. My oldest son has both wheat and dairy allergies, and my youngest daughter has dairy allergies.
We too make a lot of their foods from “scratch” but LOVE the Berlin Bakery bread and pizza crusts and so far haven’t been able to replicate them. So we do purchase those, along with goat’s cheese (which gets rationed out due to the cost!)
@happymom4, I have always used milk and lemon as a sub for buttermilk, but I never thought of just using water and lemon. Smart! Thanks for the tip!
@Anne, You can also use soy milk or rice milk and lemon juice or vinegar.
Jenelle @ Frugal Family Feasts says
Thanks for this great resource and encouragement. I have a son with many food allergies and get frustrated at the work and expense of eating safe foods. Unfortunately he’s old enough to know the difference of what things taste like compared to things he knew and loved. It’s always a work in progress, but so worth the end results.
@Jenelle @ Frugal Family Feasts, That would be so difficult for him to know what those foods he’s missing out on taste like! My son, at least, has had his allergies from birth and the diet he has is the only diet he has known. I know when I was nursing him, it was a HUGE struggle for me to change my diet… but the consequences of not following the diet made it worth it:)