Sunday, February 28, 2010

trying to be an advocate for my kiddo

I got all heated and kicked the cart today in the “health food” aisle of the grocery store. People probably thought I was nuts, but grocery shopping for my family, which includes a child with some pretty serious food allergies, can be infuriating to say the least.  My almost three-year-old daughter Zoe is allergic to just about anything you can name: ALL dairy or milk proteins (and YES, this means cheese, yogurt, whey, casein…including Cheez-its and Goldfish crackers, people. I would just like to reiterate that if there is cheese in the name, there is a 100% chance that she can’t have it.), soy proteins (not soybean oil or soy lecithin, but including hydrolyzed soy protein, soy flour and the mysterious modified food starch which is in EVERY single processed food imaginable), we also avoid, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts and shellfish.  Oh, and just in case you were wondering? The ONE thing that people are really concerned about now and making plenty of accommodations for are wheat allergies – or gluten free foods. My child actually CAN eat wheat gluten – she is not a celiac.  So, while I think it is fantastic that there are so many options for those people, I just wish someone would spread the love to the rest of us.
In the past, I have been able to buy rice-based cheeses.  I’m not sure now if Zoe would even eat them – she is hyperaware of her allergy and SO concerned about what she can and cannot have that she gets easily confused.  I made a pizza from scratch for her the other day – one that had a fresh tomato sauce, lots of veggies, ground turkey – and NO cheese. You would have thought I had poisoned her for all the screaming and crying she did. “I DON’T EAT CHEESE!!!!” she screamed until I finally gave up and gave her the same GD chicken nuggets she eats at every other meal. She’s mystified. What three-year-old wouldn’t be? We tell her all the time she can’t have pizza and then I make a “safe” pizza for her.  Why would she understand that she won’t get sick? Back to rice-based cheese…who is eating this stuff? Not the vegans, as it has casein in it – a milk derivative.  Why do companies even produce these things? They are clearly not allergen or even just dairy free.  And “Rice Dream” ice cream? I checked it out today, thinking it might be a nice option to go with birthday cupcakes. While it is processed on machinery that is supposedly not cross-contaminated, the carob chips might contain milk. WHAAAT?? Seriously, people. Can you see why this is frustrating?
I don’t ask for much. I have learned SO much throughout the past three years that I’m actually excited to make Zoe’s birthday cake this year – store bought frosting and all. And recently, I found out she can eat Oreos. Oreos!! Who knew? Yes, they are an entire week’s worth of processed crap, but the point is, it’s something she can have. One less thing to be singled out for…and that makes it ok in my book.

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