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Ask The Allergy Chef: How Can I Make Feeding a Mixed Allergy Household Easier?

Ask The Allergy Chef: Lately, Feeding My Family Feels HARD. Tips to Make it Easier?

    We’re a mixed allergy household and I do my best to make meals everyone can eat together. Lately, feeding my family has been feeling HARD, to the point where I’m feeling beyond overwhelmed. Do you have any tips on how to make feeding a food allergy family any easier?

    Hey, I’m sorry that you’re going through this. One thing I can tell you from the other side with much older kids: it does get easier eventually. Your kids will reach a point where they’re legit good help in the kitchen and it can ease your responsibilities. In the meantime, here’s my advice for you.

    First, Work on Your Mindset

    The first step to any kind of change is to get into the right mindset. I know it sounds cliché, but hear me out. If we tell ourselves (and agree with ourselves) that something is hard, difficult, etc., we believe it. And when we believe it, we respond accordingly.

    Each time the thought of how hard feeding your family is comes to you, take a pause. Breathe thru the moment, then change the thought. Tell yourself something like, “it seems hard, but I’m going to do this with a smile”. The goal isn’t to outright disagree with yourself, but instead, give a small acknowledgement, then create a positive option.

    Over time, these small positive options add up and the task won’t have such a negative association in your mind.

    Next, Make or Purchase a SIMPLE Meal Plan

    Notice I didn’t say a Michelin Star Meal Plan. By simple, I mean the absolute bare bones basics. Think: Sandwich + fruit for dinner kind of simple.

    Remember when we were kids and most meals were pretty basic? We turned out OK 🙂 Here are a few super duper basic meal ideas that can be adapted for most restricted diets:

    • Muffin Tin Meal (in a 12x muffin pan, put 4 – 6 random things in the openings such as fruit, veg, and crackers)
    • Noodles + Jar of Sauce (red, white, squash, pesto, etc.)
    • Baked Chicken + Rice/Quinoa (use a rice cooker for less hands on)
    • Pressure Cooker Soup/Stew

    RAISE (Membership website) has lots of pre-made meal plans for different dietary needs.

    The Next Thing: Analyze the Why

    Sit with yourself and think about the full process of making meals regularly (planning, shopping, cooking, leftovers, cleaning, etc).

    Then, ask yourself about each task. The goal is to determine which one(s) feel like the HARD part.

    Once you’ve identified that, see if there’s a work around for that task, a short cut, or someone you can delegate to. For example, the other day, I didn’t want to go for a walk. I did, but the thought of changing out of pajama pants just felt like, I don’t even know what. So I didn’t change my pants, went for a walk, and had a great time.

    Sometimes, when we create a small workaround, we can get the task done with a smile on our face.

    If You Can, Create a Gravy Train

    In this context, a Gravy Train means a group of people team up to tackle tasks. Here’s how it works. You find three other friends who want to hop on the train with you. A total of 8 people can also work (it’s broken down by the week).

    Everyone agrees on the task to tackle (it should be the planning, shopping, or cooking). Then, you create a schedule. Week one, you do the shopping for everyone and set up delivery. Then, your friends take care of the other weeks. See how this works? In today’s world with online groceries, a group of friends can easily set up deliveries for one another.

    If cooking is the task, each week someone in the group makes a few double batches of something and drops it off to everyone else. It can give everyone on the train one or two nights off from cooking.

    A Gravy Train is a village mentality, one that I think we need a little more of in the world. You can adapt the GT concept to meet the needs of you and your fellow passengers.

    Finally, Say No to Something

    Finally, I want to encourage you to say no to something that’s taking up a lot of your energy if you can. Sometimes, feeding our family isn’t hard at all. It’s feeding them after school activities, soccer practice, 17 doctor’s appointments, and a trip to the vet that’s hard.

    If you can say no to something, or get help in an area to free up space for making meals, do it. Remember, no matter what the internet tells you, you don’t have to do it all.

    This article on making free-from cooking more sustainable is a great read, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

    I hope something here gives you insight and makes mealtimes a little easier for you.
    ~The Allergy Chef

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