If someone in your family is diagnosed with food allergies, typically everyone starts eating differently. With more severe food allergies, families cannot even keep the food in the house to reduce any risk of there being any dangerous food proteins. Below you'll find my family's perspective on living in a food allergic household. 

Message From Mom

I remember the day clearly. My husband Bill and I were sitting in a pediatric allergist office and were anxiously waiting to hear what may be causing our 4 month old daughter’s full body eczema outbreaks. Our first born baby girl was just tortured in our eyes, being pricked with multiple sticks on her back and so uncomfortable with the itching that we were not allowed to scratch. Her doctor came in not with a list, but what seemed like a scroll. Our baby was diagnosed with food allergies to all dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and shellfish--six of the top eight allergens. She also was allergic to sesame seeds and coconut. At the time, I was nursing and the only food source she was receiving was my milk. I quickly went on an ‘elimination diet’ avoiding all my baby’s allergens. It was during this time I became a ‘food allergy ally’ and how fitting that my baby just happened to be named Ally.

Hi, I’m Renee Mills, a registered pharmacist, certified label reader and medication counselor but most importantly, Ally’s mom.
I became a food allergy mom over 14 years ago when resources and health food markets were sparse and awareness was negligent. I was concerned my girl wouldn’t reach her growth milestones and would be deprived of a nutritious diet. What milk would she drink as a child? Ally was allergic to cow milk and soy milk and almond milk! I quickly began researching alternatives and concocting recipes with substitutes for Ally. I found a few great companies providing safe products online started by food allergy moms like me. I began ordering rice milk on the internet and eventually introduced it to the grocery chain I was working for as their pharmacist. And one by one, I found more and more safe alternatives for Ally.

Keeping Ally in a bubble was never an option--keeping her SAFE is the worry each and every day. Eating out and attending birthday parties use to be our biggest challenges. Servers and chefs would look at me like I had horns on my head and my communication with them turned into a game of telephone in hopes that the final message would be the one I initially communicated. At childhood birthday parties, Ally brought her own meal and cupcake that I specially baked for her. I felt secure that she was safe but a bit sad that she was excluded from the group’s treats. Little did I know, she was learning to become a ‘food allergy ally’ herself and the future creator of this amazing resource of a website.

The baby girl I worried about meeting growth milestones and living a healthy lifestyle is now a strong, tall, athletic, beautiful girl. She enjoys eating and actually eats more than her non-food allergic sisters!

Everyone can be a food allergy ally--be safe and inclusive--it means so much.

Find some of my mom's recipes here

From My Sister

Hi, my name is Katie and I am Ally’s younger sister. I am passionate about playing tennis, going to Indians games, and baking dairy free desserts. Since Ally is only 15 months older than me, I don’t really know life without her-or her “special food.” Ever since we were little, Ally drank rice milk instead of regular milk and ate margarine instead of butter. At first, I was a little bit skeptical of this food since it wasn’t what everyone else was eating at school. When I finally tried it, I thought most of the food was way better than the food with dairy, eggs, or nuts. I particularly love Divvies chocolate chips, Bisquick pancake mix (made with soy milk), Hippeas chickpea puffs, and Biscoff cookie butter. While I still eat eggs or drink chocolate almond milk, Ally’s dairy, egg, and nut free food has definitely affected my diet. Even though my parents trust Ally, I’ve been thoroughly trained in how to use an EpiPen from a young age, which most kids don’t need to learn. When I like to bake for fun, I love making the Cherrybrook Kitchen chocolate cake mix and Arthur chocolate chip cookie mix. These mixes are great alternatives to chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cake. While I still enjoy my occasional snack of Cheez-Itz, I love dairy, egg, and nut free food (like Hippeas) as a healthy alternative.

Q & A With Dad

Ally:  “Dad, when did you first find out I had food allergies?”
Dad: “Ally, even with Mom and I both being in healthcare, it took us a while to discover your allergies.  At first, you had kind of non-specific symptoms like occasional skin rash, spitting up and colic a few other things that many babies experience.  After several months, though, mom and I noticed a pattern that seemed to be related to your feeding schedule.  Over time, and with most thanks to mom and an allergist, we discovered you had some food allergies.”
Ally:  “Once you found out that I had food allergies, what did you do?”
Dad:  “We tried eliminating certain foods that we thought could be causing your symptoms.  Initially, this was hard, because we had to find an allergen free baby formula that we hoped would work.  It did work, and then as you transitioned to real foods, we found that you couldn’t eat many of the main staples in our diet  - like milk, eggs and nuts.”
Ally:  “What has been the hardest thing in having a kid with food allergies?”
Dad: “As you know, we have been incredibly diligent ever since we found out about your allergies.  But, when you’ve been in environments where you are in the hands of others - like restaurants, airplanes, hotels, and even friends and family - it’s hard to balance robust advocacy and safety with practicality at times.  In the end, it’s all about being safe first.  Kids and parents of kids with food allergies aren’t trying to be difficult with servers, flight attendants, or your friends parents - we’re just trying to help you keep yourself safe!”
Ally:  “ What is something that you think other parents of kids with food allergies should know?”
Dad: “Kids with food allergies need to be empowered to be able to talk about them.  There is never a reason to be shy or embarrassed about what you can or cannot eat.  While there is increasing awareness of food allergies today - through your amazing efforts with foodallergyally.comFARE, and other advocacy organizations - there is no substitute for being diligent and by reminding and verifying and reminding again!”