About Shanon Hilton & her Blog
Shanon is a winner of Top 25 Food Allergy Mom Blogs
What's your go-to product or brand that gets around your child's food allergy?
My son is allergic to dairy, corn, and soy (among other things). Many of the milk-substitutes on the market contain xanthan gum, which is usually derived from corn. It is used to bind, thicken and integrate ingredients. Soy Lecithin is often used as an emulsifier to prevent ingredients from separating.
Native Forest Unsweetened Organic Coconut Milk is our go to brand for dairy-replacement because they contain neither of the above ingredients, just 100% pure coconut milk. We use it in everything. We dilute it with water and make our own 'milk', we use it in smoothies and desserts. It's wonderful.
I also like this brand because they are one of the very few companies committed to being BPA-free, which means I don't have to worry about endocrine-disrupting toxins leaking into the product.
What's one thing you'd like all moms to know about food allergies (either about your family's specific allergies or in general)?
Allergies come in all shapes and sizes. Symptoms can manifest themselves in the respiratory tract, on the skin's surface, in the digestive system and the neurological system.
If your child has dark circles, puffy eyes, a sandpaper like rash or eczema, it could be a food allergy. If your child has trouble breathing, has reoccurring ear infections or sinus issues, it could be a food allergy. If your child experiences abdominal discomfort or mucousy diarrhea or constipation, it could be a food allergy. If your child's behavior becomes aggressive, agitated, anxious, irritable or overly hyperactive directly or indirectly after eating certain foods, it could be due to a food allergy. In fact, disorders like ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism, Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and more, are all now being linked to digestive health and food allergies.
If you have any concerns about the symptoms your child may be experiencing, regardless of the naysayers, have them tested for both IgG and IgE antibodies. True allergies will become apparent through the presence of IgE antibodies; food 'sensitivities' will become apparent through the presence of IgG antibodies. Both types of allergies cause symptoms and both affect one's overall health.
If your doctor refuses to test for both, find another doctor or go to a naturopath who will. Food allergies are on the rise, but they are still being under diagnosed (in my opinion). Do not underestimate the positive changes that can be experienced in your child's health by removing the offending allergens from their diet.
What's one of your favorite recipes that's safe for your family's food allergies?
Soaked Sunflower-Pumpkin Seed Crackers. Necessity is definitely the mother of invention. With allergies of eggs, nuts, grains and dairy in our family, our family was feeling in desperate need of a bread-like product. This recipe came about as a result. These crackers are mild, crunchy and work perfectly alongside a bowl of hot soup. The recipe can be found here: http://shanonhilton.blogspot.com/2011/09/recipe-soaked-sunflower-pumpkin-seed.html
What advice would you give to a mom who just found out her child has a food allergy?
Start reading. Read as much as you can on your child's particular allergies. Learn what names the allergen can be hiding under, read labels, learn about cross-contamination, search for product alternatives and start reworking your own recipes. Learn about what is happening inside your child's body and why. Knowledge is power. The more you learn, the less overwhelming it will all seem.
Know that there are food alternatives for every allergy. Likely someone out there with a blog has already converted your favorite recipe to an allergy friendly one, so don't despair.
Start getting your family involved in meal preparation and especially, in growing some of your own food. Gardening with your family is a great way to redirect the focus from what you can't have to what you can. It's also a great way to take back control over what 'ingredients' are going on and into your food.
Look into alternative allergy treatments, from GAPS (Gut & Psychology Syndrome) and SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) protocols to NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques) treatments. Question everything. Learn and understand all of your options first, and then make a decision based on what is best for you and your family. Do not give up control of the decision making process to someone who couldn't possibly care more about your child's health than you.
What's a great allergy-safe food to bring to a party?
Homemade fudge is always a hit - whether you have allergies or not. It is very easy to make on short notice, combines 4 simple ingredients (coconut oil, honey, gluten-free vanilla extract and cocoa powder) and avoids all major allergens. I share my favorite recipe here:
What's your go-to cooking shortcut?
I try to make extra whenever I'm cooking so that I can freeze prepared meals for those days when something quick is needed.
What are your favorite blog posts?