Monday, October 18, 2010

New restaurant in our line-up: Chipotle

I feel so liberated every time we try a new restaurant and Ainsley finds something good to eat and has no allergic reaction. We did it again last week when we ordered food for her at Chipotle. Most of you in major urban/suburban areas have probably heard of of it - it's a chain that makes made-to-order burritos and tacos. We have a ton in the DFW area because we're all crazy about Tex-Mex here.

My husband and I have been eating at Chipotle for years but for some reason (well, fear, clearly) I had not tried to determine whether Ainsley could eat anything there (we had taken her there but had always brought food from home or from a fast-food place for her). But my babysitter is braver than I am and last time she went there, she asked about the company's food-allergy friendliness. Low-and-behold, it is very sensitive to and accommodating of food allergies. It has a chart online (and also one you can request in the store) that shows what food components contain allergens. As you can see from the chart, the only thing a kid with nut, peanut, milk, egg, and sesame allergies can't have is the cheese and sour cream. And the workers make the food right in front of you so you can watch to make sure they don't accidentally include any allergens in what they're making for you.

So we took Ainsley there the other night and ordered a kid's "Taco Kit," which is a divided plate that comes with two tacos and some sides. On the plate, we asked for the shredded beef (barbacoa), pinto beans, rice, guacamole, and lettuce. Then she sat down and got to put the tacos together herself using the different components, which she thought was really fun.

I am thrilled to say that she thought the tacos were really yummy and had no allergic reaction.

Note: The only special accommodation to request when getting food at Chipotle is for the preparer to put on a new set of plastic gloves before preparing the food tray because the old gloves could have cheese residue on them.

Happy eating - I know where we'll be chowing down at least one night a week!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So we're having another one!

I am four months pregnant so I decided it was a good time to tell you that there will be another kid in the house come April. We are very excited - my husband and I have always wanted three kids. Ainsley will be six and Leighton will be three when the baby arrives. If Leighton will just get out of the "how many ways can I try to kill my toddler self" phase before then, I think we'll be alright. If she potty trains before then, that would be the cherry on top, but I'm not really expecting that to happen as she's not that interested yet and Ainsley was over three when she finally stopped with the diapers.

So you food-allergy minded people might be wondering what I'm doing this pregnancy to try to prevent this baby from having allergies. Well, nothing really. With Leighton, I avoided the foods that are likely to cause life-long allergies (fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts). But the research on avoiding allergens while pregnant/nursing is very mixed and Leighton didn't turn out allergic to that stuff or to the allergens that I continued to eat (eggs, milk, wheat, soy) so I don't really think my avoiding those foods made a difference. So this time I'm eating like a normal person, although I don't eat a lot of the life-long allergens anyway (I don't care that much for fish and of course I'm not around a lot of peanuts/tree nuts) so I doubt the baby's getting much exposure to those foods.

Another question you might have is why on earth would my husband and I want another child when (a) taking care of one food-allergic child is so time consuming/expensive and (b) the new baby might also have food allergies, meaning double the trouble. I can understand this viewpoint and have heard at least one other food-allergy mom say her child's allergy was part of the reason she decided not to have a third baby (the allergic child was her second). But my strategy with food allergies has been that it is not going to limit Ainsley or our family. That means we will do everything we can to make sure Ainsley gets a normal childhood (goes to a regular school, goes on YMCA Adventure Princess campouts with her dad, etc.) and that we also don't let food allergies determine our family size. Sure, a third child will mean more work - on top of the special things I have to do to keep Ainsley safe - but somehow we've made our current situation work, and work well. I have never for a minute regretted having Leighton, and Ainsley adores her too, and I know it will be the same with the next baby ... even if this one has food allergies.

Of course, we will be very disappointed if the baby has food allergies - undeniably, life is easier when a kid doesn't have them. But if that happens, life really won't be that much different or harder UNLESS the baby is allergic to wheat and soy, the two things Ainsley eats the most. I just have to hope for the best, and keep reminding myself that siblings of food-allergic children have only a slightly increased risk of having allergies (10% greater risk than other kids). The likelihood is that the baby won't have allergies, and if he/she does, I would think they're likely to be to the foods to which Ainsley's allergic. If that's the case, we're well-equipped to handle them.

And one day there will be a cure, and all of my children will be able to eat whatever they want, and none of this food-allergy talk and worry will matter anymore :).