Dietary restrictions

If you’re not familiar with the Austin food scene, menus here sound a tad pretentious. For example, how about a small plate of jerked pork belly, cheddar rice cake, and strawberry? Or would you prefer a warm sweet potato soup with ginger, pickled shrimp, puffed sorghum, and paprika oil? Sometimes the food reads more like a chemistry experiment than an actual meal. I do like eating out here though. I am almost always surprised.

Along with the crazy foods are all manner of labels. People are vegan or merely dairy free or gluten free. When my parents come to visit from their small Midwestern city, they ask about all of the symbols and asterisks on the menus, and I am reminded of how obsessive this city must seem. We don’t just eat here. We investigate every aspect of food. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and other times I think of people starving during the Great Depression and wonder how we got here.

Our little family isn’t into trends. We eat most of our meals at home and eat mostly vegetarian, with occasional fish and chicken. We believe in moderation, except when it comes to pancakes.

I was thinking about food last week when I took Eleanor for her annual checkup because the nurse asked how many servings of fruits, veggies, grain, and protein our kids eat each day. I don’t think about food in terms of servings, so I struggled to come up with the numbers. Eleanor likes few fruits, so her diet is mostly veggies and grains. I felt a bit self-conscious saying that my kid eats a lot of carbs because I know everyone thinks carbs are the enemy nowadays.

The doctor came in, and we both fretted over Eleanor’s slow growth. He decided to run some tests. A few days later, he called. You guys, carbs are the enemy! Celiac disease. For the past seven years, I have been poisoning my kid with every stack of pancakes and every plate of spaghetti to the point that she is barely growing. Feeling really competent!

So now we are an egg-free, gluten-free family, which seems acceptable in Austin and totally pretentious almost anyplace else (Except Portland, right?). This leaves us basically only one food to eat for breakfast: bacon. No, actually I’ve already attempted a batch of oat flour and banana pancakes, which were passable. I am torn between loathing all of the people who invent special diets for themselves because that makes people take my children’s real allergies less seriously and loving those same people because they are the reason I can buy a bag of gluten-free flour at my normal grocery store.

I know that scientists are working on the food allergy thing, and I’m hoping for a solution someday, if not for my kids, then for potential grandkids. For now, I’m giving up the pillowy French bread and lofty golden cakes. That is true love.

5 thoughts on “Dietary restrictions

  1. Oh man. What a bust. I’m so sorry. I feel really sorry for people who deal with that. At least it wasn’t making her physically feel ill right? But stunting her growth? Wow! I honestly had no idea the affects of gluten. I just know I personally don’t have it because I have other issues (don’t we all?) that had me get every blood test on the planet.

    We’re also a huge pancake eating family. Just about every day, honestly. I cram all kinds of stuff in those. Hmph.

  2. I’m sorry.
    Do you have trader joes? My MIL has a gazillion food allergies and they actually have tons of gluten free, egg/dairy/etc free options, including things like almond flour way cheaper than anywhere else, cereals, frozen waffles…Even supertarget in the Midwest has lots of options just in the last couple years. Good luck adapting.

  3. The big eight. Hope everyone is coping. Those categorical lifestyle changes can be difficult. I admire your compassion in giving up the gluten also. I always feel guilty eating something my older one can’t eat in front of her (unless it’s coffee or alcohol!) so I’m practically nut and dairy-free at this point. Every once in a while I think about how odd it would be to go into a grocery store and just toss something into the cart without looking at the ingredients, and then I try to put that as quickly as possible from my mind because thinking about a different reality does no good and I know that things could be worse.

  4. And very nicely stated about invented diets making people take allergies less seriously. I’ve taken to flashing the Epi-pen when ordering. Milk-related anaphylaxis is supposed to be rare but my kid has had it three times and the last time it took three Epi-pens to stop the reaction.

  5. If you ever need to sneak in a lunch trip to La Madeline for crossiants, appetizer bread, and flour& egg filled desserts, I’m your girl.

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