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Grocery Shopping Tips for Children with Severe Food Allergies

Grocery Shopping Tips for Children with Severe Food Allergies and Sensitivities. I had to modify how I grocery shop for a child with severe food allergies.

I completed a speaking engagement with Great Start Collaborative – Oakland County. My topic was all about picking the right foods for sensitive eaters. If you were unable to make it to the presentation, here’s the info that was shared.

The reason I chose to speak on this topic was because my daughter Lindsey has had severe food allergies since 3 months of age. I went through so much before I finally was able to find what worked for her. I had to modify my diet while nursing, and then as she got older, we couldn’t eat out, go on vacation, etc. Everything had to be homemade and I had to monitor all the ingredients that were used.

My daughter has EE, Eosiniphilic Esophagitis.

The Eosiniphilic Esophagitis diagnosis taught me so much. The first thing that was truly apparent was how much food and eating habits today differ from generations ago. School celebrations are filled with cookies, breakfast waffles, packaged foods… Schedules are packed and busy so families are opting for packaged and processed/instant foods. And, we all enjoy eating out. Eating out seemed to be on occasion before, now it’s more frequent.

Let’s start with eating out. I used to ask restaurants for lists of ingredients for their menu items since it was easier for me to look at it than it was for them to try and recall my daughter’s 40+ problem foods. One restaurant used to have it available online. When I saw it, I nearly got sick. The foods you order have way more in them than you’d imagine. Additives, preservatives, artificial ingredients. So, when we thought we were ordering my daughter a simple piece of chicken, she was actually getting a whole load of ingredients that made her ill. To this day, she never wants to eat out. She says every time she eats out, she feels sick and would rather just eat at home.

Next, I had to modify how I grocery shop for a child with severe food allergies. All those super convenient products I’d find in the center aisles were completely bothersome to my daughter. I found myself focusing on the outer perimeter of the store, and heavily in the produce section. I also fell in love with Trader Joes and Whole Foods. Yes, it costs more to eat this way (if you can find it at Trader Joes, it’s cheaper than Whole Foods). But, I was saving a ton by not having to take her to the doctor all the time and not having to run multiple tests. She was very grateful for that!

If I purchase a packaged product, I read the label carefully. Certain ingredients I like to avoid are Enriched, Modified, HFCS – high fructose corn syrup, Hydrogenated Oils, Aspartame, MSG – does not have to be listed so you may need to ask, monosodium glutamate, modified food starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, Citric Acid, Preservatives, sodium nitrite, BHT/BHA, benzoates, glutamates, mono and diglycerides, Nitrates (you can find nitrate/nitrite free lunch meat, hot dogs… at Trader Joes), Artificial Colors, and Pesticides.

Switching to organic was painful on the pocketbook, so I choose wisely and only purchase organic when it matters most.

Organic foods to consider buying are (source

  1. Potatoes – more than 35 pesticides have been detected on potatoes in USDA testing. Sweet potatoes offer a delicious alternative with less chance of pesticide residue.
  2. Apples – fungus and insect threats prompt farmers to spray various chemicals on their orchards. Not surprisingly, pesticide residue is also found in apple juice and apple sauce, making all apple products smart foods to buy organic.
  3. Strawberries – Nearly 60 different pesticides have been found on strawberries, though fewer are found on frozen strawberries.
  4. Celery – USDA tests have found more than 60 different pesticides on celery.
  5. Peaches – more than 60 pesticides have been found on peaches, an nearly as many in single-serving packs, but far fewer in canned peaches. Safer alternatives include watermelon, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit.
  6. spinach – nearly 50 different pesticides. (While frozen spinach has nearly as many, canned has had fewer detected pesticides.)
  7. imported nectarines – Domestic nectarines don’t test with as much pesticide residue, but overall 33 pesticides have been detected on nectarines.
  8. Imported grapes – imported grapes can have more than 30 pesticides. Raisins, not surprisingly, also have high pesticide residue tests.
  9. Sweet bell peppers – Nearly 50 different pesticides have been detected on sweet bell peppers.
  10. Blueberries – more than 50 pesticides have been detected as residue on them. Frozen blueberries have proved somewhat less contaminated.
  11. Lettuce – More than 50 pesticides have been identified on lettuce.
  12. Kale
  13. Collard Greens

Organic foods you don’t need to buy:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mango
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet Potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

It has now been 7 years since my daughter’s Eosiniphilic Esophagitis diagnosis and the hard work put into the research of what food foods to buy and her food tolerances have paid substantial rewards. The slow process of elimination diets for Eosiniphilic Esophagitis and careful food preperation has allowed her tolerances to build and she is eating more normally every day.

Fee free to contact me for more food allergies grocery shopping tips.

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