Monday, August 2, 2010

Loosening up

For about three years, we have been in "lock-down" mode in terms of allowing Ainsley to eat food outside of our house. Ever since her last severe allergic reaction in a restaurant (Mothers' Day 2007, when she was 2.5 yrs old) I have refused to let her eat anything at any restaurant except for the cheese-free pizza at my favorite local pizza place, the smoked meat at one of our favorite bbq joints, and a few select things at McDonald's (plain hamburger or chicken selects and apple dippers w/o the sauce), Wendy's (hamburger or kid's chicken sandwich and fries), and Burger King (fish patty or chicken fries and onion rings/french fries/apple fries). The one exception to our ban on other restaurant food is if a restaurant has fresh fruit or corn chips (we live in Texas so at least once every couple of weeks we'll go to a Mexican restaurant and have never had a problem with the corn chips).

Now that Ainsley is 5 and is very good at telling me as soon as she thinks she's having an allergic reaction (usually itchy mouth is the first indicator), I have begun loosening up a little. When we were on vacation in Michigan, I allowed her to eat a cheese-free pizza from a place that assured us their crust was safe for her - thankfully, she loved the pizza and had no problem. I am also allowing her to eat McDonald's chicken nuggets now because even though they contain a slight bit of milk, they don't cause any allergic reaction (this is per my allergist's recent advice that we can start introducing certain cooked/baked things containing very small amounts of milk or egg).

This weekend we introduced a new restaurant to her - Papa John's Pizza. Dave has a love of Papa John's that goes back to his college years, when he discovered he could get bacon (not Canadian bacon - real bacon) on a Papa John's pizza. He introduced me to it in law school, and for years our favorite road-trip food was bacon and pepperoni Papa John's (delivered to whatever cheap motel room we were staying in).

Now that I'm feeling braver about trying new things with Ainsley, I had him check to see if Papa John's crust was safe for her, and low and behold, it is - the thin crust contains milk but the regular crust does not. We ordered a small cheese-free pizza for her with bacon and mushrooms and she went to town on it.

I can't express how liberating it is to be able to give Ainsley new kinds of restaurant foods. These good experiences have encouraged me to talk to other restaurants to see if there are things at other restaurants that are safe for her. She loves trying new things and we love seeing her life is get a little bit more normal.


Anonymous said...

Yes, eating out can be challenging. My daughter has treenut and peanut allergy. Pizza has been safe for us. We usually go to restaurants we are familiar with and she just gets pasta, but never deserts out!. We recently went away and before we went I called restaurants there to find out if they would be safe. We had a few to choose from. Best part was there was two which were safe for breakfast!. Today we actually at the the American Girl cafe (NYC), it was wonderful. They are a nut free kitchen there. I asked several different times just to keep confirming. It was the first time she has been able to eat the desert out.

It's so nice when we can find safe options..


Mamma Sarah said...

That's great to hear. Eating out is always a huge challenge.

Anonymous said...

Just discovered your blog. Enjoying it! Thanks for sharing your story!! Helps us know we are not alone. I'm also from TX, by the way.

Wondering, if you would be open to looking over my list of derivatives/ aliases for the allergies that your kids have, just to help me make sure it's comprehensive? I'm working on a tool for food allergy sufferers.


Brandy said...

THANKS for posting this!!! We tried it and it was awesome. It was hard for me not to get a emotional while I watched my son's face as he said "I love pizza mom, thank you" He had such a huge grin. I took the leftovers to a pizza birthday party the next day -YAY!!

Anonymous said...

It is hard to eat out--we normally don't since our boys have dairy and egg allergies. We have tried Subway with success. I order the wheat bread (after making them bring the box out for me so I could read the ingredients) and the boys ususally have ham, bacon with vegetables. I don't put any seasoning or even oil/vinegar on it. They love it.

A. Anderson, author Flourishing with Food Allergies