Yes, we are allergy-free! Thanks for asking. 🙂
Approximately 10 months ago, Jen was diagnosed with a chronic, immune system disease called Eosinophilic Esophagitis.
What is Eosinophilic Esophagitis?
Also called EoE, it is basically that in reaction to certain foods or other allergens, the immune system attacks the esophagus and builds up a type of white blood cells (called eosinophils) in the lining there.
The eosinophils produce a protein that causes inflammation. This can lead to scarring, along with a narrowing and a formation of excessive fibrous tissue in the lining of your esophagus. All this can make it difficult to swallow or cause food to get stuck. No good!
There isn’t a cure for this–but through eliminating certain foods from your diet, and endoscopy testing with biopsies… you can eventually find out what you’re actually allergic to–and then avoid that.
It’s more commonly diagnosed in children than in adults, but it’s slowly becoming more recognizable in adults who were previously diagnosed with some other upper Gastrointestinal disorder.
Here’s more information from The Mayo Clinic on EoE:
Diseases and Conditions: Eosinophilic Esophagitis
So after 27 years of having no idea she had food allergies… Surprise!
Where We’re At:
As a family, we have eliminated certain foods from our diet at home and don’t eat out hardly as much as we used to (which, I think has actually been a positive side-effect for our personal nutrition).
So far the most foods we had to eliminate at once included:
- Dairy (including whey, casein, and milk protein)
- Wheat (all wheat, not just wheat gluten)
- Corn (including corn syrup, corn starch, etc.)
If that doesn’t seem like a lot… I challenge you to go look at any nutrition label in your cabinet or fridge and find something that is free of all these ingredients.
I know I continue to be surprised by how many things contain soy, some form of corn, and even wheat! And how much you have to actually read the ingredients (because, surprisingly some aren’t noted at the bottom “CONTAINS ALLERGENS:” listing).
Did you find something that was free of all of these things? If so… let us know! We’re always looking for more things that are allergy-free and safe to eat. 🙂
We were recently able to add back in Soy, and Corn (for now… we are still in the eliminate/test phase of diagnosis, and don’t exactly know what Jen is allergic to yet). But so far this has really opened up so many more foods we can eat!
But we’ve also gotten pretty good at meal-planning, cooking at home more, and only having stuff in the house that is safe for everyone.
In addition to being allergy-free, we pretty much also only eat proteins including: Chicken, Turkey, and Fish (Meghan’s personal choice). Jen would like to point out that she does eat steak. In fact, I watched her eat one just last week. 😉
So what the heck do you even eat?
We aren’t vegetarians or vegans, but we find that a lot of these recipes are also allergy-free because they contain mostly vegetables/fruits, and grains.
The internet has been a huge help to us in finding vegetarian, vegan, and/or allergy-free recipes that still offer a lot of variety and flavor. It’s also helpful that we live in an area where “Natural Foods” stores exist (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Lucky’s Market), and in a social society where people seem hyper-aware of gluten, vegan, and vegetarian options.
We do keep a Pinterest board full of a lot of these recipes. Like a safe-food database!
Feel free to check it out here: The Veiga’s Food Board (WARNING: If you go back far enough to the beginning, you will probably find some non-allergy friendly pins–we’re slowly working on getting rid of these.)
Along with the “database,” we also started to keep track of Weekly Menus (mostly so it’s easier to find when we go to cook it!).
You can find that here: This Week’s Menu
We’d be excited to connect via blog or Pinterest with:
- Other allergy-free people out there in the world
- Other EoE people/families
- Anyone who likes to cook good vegetarian or vegan recipes (*we can always add our own chicken 😉 )
- Or anyone interested in learning more about any of the above!
So, I think once we plan our menu for the week, I’m going to start posting it here with a link to any recipes we use, or suggestions we might have to make them extra yummy. We’ll also try to warn you if we tried something that we would never make again!
We try to make about one new menu item a week, and we have a few staples that are our easy go-to’s now. It took awhile to get to this point, but we’re finally like a little meal-planning factory thanks to Pinterest, an app called Yummly, and an increased desire to cook healthy, safe, and at home.
We’ve found that it really isn’t as hard to cook “from scratch” as we once thought it was. And it can actually be kind of fun to try something new. We’re busy people, so we also try to find recipes that are easy and quick, save the more time-intensive recipes for weekends, and often plan things that we can prep ahead of time to make it easier on ourselves throughout the week!
So… what’s for dinner THIS week?
- Broccoli Lemon Pasta — Minus the cheese, plus some sauteed zucchini, and our own seasoning blend (we don’t have a huge taste for Red Pepper!)
- Turkey Burgers — No recipe for this, we simply get the plain 12-pack, Kirkland Turkey Patties from Costco (frozen section), add our own seasonings, and pair it with some fruit, quinoa side, or homemade sweet potato wedges. Oh, and can’t forget — Schar Gluten Free Burger Buns!
- (One Pan) Honey Garlic Chicken
- Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein *New Recipe this week!
- Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken *New Recipe this week!
- Vegan Lasagna *New Recipe this week!
- Mexican Quinoa Taco Salad — We plan to mix this recipe into a salad form to fill it out a bit. *New Recipe this week!
Snacks and To-Go Breakfasts:
- 5-Minute Granola Bars — they took us about 15 minutes 😉 ; try adding dried cranberries or a handful of chocolate chips
- 4-Ingredient Blueberry Muffins — add Honey for a little extra sweetness
I guess we were feeling extra-inspired to try new things while we were meal-planning this week–
Check back for updates on how they went!