The Allergist Mom

Sarah M. Boudreau-Romano is a pediatrician who completed her fellowship in Allergy. She has four children, three with multiple life-threatening food allergies. The stories shared in her blog are meant to be a source of support and encouragement.

Sarah is a winner of Top 25 Food Allergy Moms - 2012

What's your best advice for a mom struggling with cooking for children with food allergies?

The most important thing is not to give up. I have cooked so many terrible meals but after a year or two of really exploring new foods and new recipes, I have started to whip up some pretty delicious top 8 allergen-free meals and desserts (no milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nuts, fish or shellfish). You will need to do some investing in the right tools as well, for example, a high quality baking sheet and a mixer. You will also want to buy a few cookbooks. I like Colette Martin's new book as well as Cybele Pascal. Follow some allergy-free cooks/bakers on-line, some of these communities are great. Don't be afraid to fail. Try new replacements, experiment. Then when you get something right, share it with all of us!
I am actually writing an article for Allergic Living due out in December about my reluctant transition from reservation-maker to home chef! Look for it!

What's your favorite allergy friendly product?

Having four kids and a very large extended family, there is always a reason to eat a cake! Traditional cakes are very dangerous for our family, filled with milk, wheat and eggs, so for us the Cherrybrook Kitchen Chocolate Cake mix tops the list for favorite food allergy friendly product. Enjoy Life Bars come in a close second.

What's the biggest challenge raising a child with food allergies?

To pin down the biggest challenge is really tough. There's school and birthday parties, traveling and cooking, education and teaching the kids how to stay safe. There's carrying the Epipen everywhere you go and figuring out out to carry it and still look cool. There's the extended family who don't "get it". For us, it's probably the loss of spontaneity that still is one of the hardest parts of living with food allergy. We want to stay at our grandparent's house longer but I only brought enough food for one meal. After a baseball game, everyone walks down the street to get an Italian beef and we need to head home. One the way home from school, if a vanilla shake and fries sound like a much-needed quick snack, that's not an option for us. As much as I try to prepare for all that we might do, sometimes I just don't get it right. This is when the children and we, as a family, feel the most frustration and disappointment. As the years go by, we all have gotten better at bringing extra food along and thinking of easy, safe meal options if we do end up somewhere longer than we thought.