Getting kids to eat is a challenge, but when your child has food allergies it can compound this problem. Over the last few decades there has been an increase in children with food allergies. But why do these allergies occur?
Well, allergies are caused when our body’s immune system over reacts to a food or any substance in a food. It identifies these substances as dangerous and unleashes a protective response.
|The symptoms of an allergic response can range from minor reactions to severe anaphylaxis. Some of the more common signs that your child is allergic to a food are vomiting, stomach cramps, hives, shortness of breath, wheezing, a tight hoarse throat or trouble swallowing, weak pulse, dizziness or feeling faint. In severe cases, they may undergo anaphylaxis- a form of severe allergic reaction in which a series of escalating symptoms like skin rash, nausea, difficulty breathing, and shock may occur. This can occur over a span of a few seconds or minutes after contact with an allergen, and may result in unconsciousness or death, if not treated promptly.|
Some of the most common allergies in children are to eggs, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy.
Giving your kiddo proper sustenance that can circumvent this labyrinth of issues can be tricky. Here are some staples and substitutions you can make to your plant based pantry to safeguard your child against food sensitivity reactions.
You can almost never go wrong with fruit or fruit based snacks. Convenient delicious and packed to the brim with vitamins, need I say more?
You can find creative ways to eat these, as fruit dips with vegan yogurt, dehydrated as fruit leathers, fruit salads, smoothies and so on.
A lot of our food, both homemade and store-bought make contain dairy products like butter, cream or milk. However, more recently there have been great tasting plant alternatives turning up, there are faux butters of coconut oil, olive oil readily available and easy to substitute in most recipes.
There has been a rising popularity of plant-based milks like cashew milk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk and even oat milk. You can buy these at the nearest grocery or make them at home easily.
As a parent it is natural to worry about whether you child is getting sufficient nutrition in their diet to grow healthily, especially on a plant based diet. The main concern for many parents is protein. Legumes are the answer to all these concerns, they are a good way to incorporate protein without risking exposure to potential allergens and ensure healthy growth.
You can try variation like bean sprout salads, dal tadka (Indian dish), and falafel like fritters (excluding potential allergens), tacos or even bean based burger patties. There’s an endless variety of splendid dishes that can be created from legumes.
This may seem obvious, but vegetable are so often forgotten. They are very nutrient-dense and full of good fibre that is absolutely essential for maintaining a healthy gut and gut flora. When you child’s gut is healthy, it forms a healthy shield against potential allergens and can help prevent them from developing new allergies. Revamp your salads, crisp up your beets and carrots into chips, whip up a vegetable korma and watch your munchkins gobble it up.
While tree nuts can potentially cause allergies there are plenty of seeds still safe for consumption. This includes pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chickpeas etc. These also whip up into beautiful butters that are rich and scrumptious and can be easily spread on a slice of toast some examples are sunflower butter and soy butter.
Wheat flour is almost ubiquitous in all our cooking, but when your child develops an allergy to gluten we are forced to think of new strategies. When baking and cooking you can substitute wheat flour with rice flour, quinoa flour, almond flour, tapioca starch, and even oat flour. Each of these have their own properties and can affect the texture of the final result, but with a little research you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
Having food restrictions can make life seem very tedious, but when it’s our little ones wellbeing at stake, it seems like a petty price to pay. Leave behind your dread, you are now stepping into world with new culinary treasures to discover. With a few simple substitutions and a pantry loaded with non-allergic plant based foods you can safeguard your child’s health with ease.