Counting My Blessings

Let’s be honest here: sometimes life with a food-allergic child can be overwhelming, frustrating, scary, or just downright annoying. If I’m not careful, it can send me spiraling into a pity party that puts Elijah the prophet to shame. Those moments of frustration catch me off-guard, like when I have to pack him a lunch again just because we’re going out for the day and I don’t know if there will be anything safe for him to eat there. Or when other moms pop into any old store and pick up any old snack to tide their child over until meal time, but I have to make sure I have safe snack with me at all times, just in case. Sometimes it’s when I see other children happily eating normal childhood foods that my Certain Little Someone may never enjoy. Other times, it’s when I look in the freezer and realize I’m low on my stash of safe foods, so I need to cook up another big batch. One thing that gets to me quite frequently is the strain on my budget and my mind of grocery shopping for three different diets and nutritional needs (my DH has ulcerative colitis, so he has another entirely separate list of foods he has to avoid).

Most of the time, I am able to sail through these momentary setbacks with grace and ready cheerfulness, but if I’m not on my guard, I can really start to slip downward into that spiral of self-pity. I’m learning to head off those moments with some positive thinking instead: gratefulness instead of complaining, thankfulness instead of irritation. It’s not easy because it certainly doesn’t come naturally. And it’s not easy because, really, how much is there to be thankful for when your child has multiple life-threatening allergies to food, of all things?

The old hymn comes to mind: Count your blessings, name them one by one.

So far I don’t have a big huge list of blessings related to my Certain Little Someone’s food allergies, but there is one in particular that keeps coming to mind, and it’s important enough that it snaps me out of my negative train of thought and keeps me plugging forward when the going gets rough:

I am thankful that his limited diet forces me to feed him LOTS of fruit and vegetables.

This is important to me because healthy and nutritious food is one of my passions. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to fall into bad habits of convenience and ease (which is one reason why I started my other blog, Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy: to keep me motivated to serve my family healthy foods), and I know, if it weren’t for his allergies, I would succumb to the temptation to serve him foods that are far from healthy. Because of his allergies, I am constantly looking at and analyzing nutritional labels, which not only keeps me from buying him unsafe foods, but makes me very aware of the nutritional content of the food I do buy for him. Oftentimes, fresh fruit or steamed vegetables are actually the quickest and most convenient food I can serve him. He easily meets the 5-9 servings of produce a day, every day, without fail. Produce makes up the largest portion of my grocery budget, and it disappears more quickly than anything else in my refrigerator.

Even though I’d like to think, that were circumstances different, I’d feed my child all those fresh fruits and veggies anyway, I’m sure I’d frequently relax into much easier habits. So I’m grateful that his limited diet forces me to stick to a very healthy and nutritious menu. I worry about some of the nutrients he doesn’t get so easily from his diet, like iron and calcium, but it’s encouraging to know that he gets a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals from all the fruits and vegetables that he eats. And fiber, too – what with all the beans and prunes he loves to eat, that child gets more fiber than anyone else in the family!

So when it comes to your child’s allergies, what are you thankful for?

Image: Simon Howden /


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