40 Days with Food Allergies

I wasn’t going to share my Lenten observance publicly. Most years, it has been something that was work, requiring some change in my life, but admittedly, seldom gave much food for thought.

This year was different and gave me a new perspective on something that I thought I understood already. My Lenten practice this year was to eat as if I had the same food allergies as Olivia, my eldest, who is allergic to animal milk, eggs, most tree nuts, and peanuts.

I didn’t think the practice would be that hard. She’s in second grade. We’ve been dealing with this for a while now. It was amazing how eye-opening this experience has been.

I did horrible at it too. If I was actually allergic to these foods, I would be dead right now. First, we made an early concession. She eats a lot of grains for breakfast (cereal, toast, etc), which are a recipe for me to double my weight in a week, so it was acceptable for me to eat eggs for breakfast.

Then another concession: I’m not in charge of food for the house and Olivia isn’t home for lunch during the school week. Vanessa wasn’t keen and I wasn’t apt to push her to make sure lunches were Olivia-friendly.

Huh, this is already harder than I thought it would be.

Dining out was interesting. With O, we would generally tell her what singular option she could eat, since often there is only one or two, and that’s her meal. I never realized, at least coming from the perspective of having the menu before me, how limiting that really is. Don’t feel like the chicken? Too bad. Don’t like that entrée? Tough, unless you’d rather not eat. Or, if there were other options, they were smaller items that left me hungry.

All in all, I didn’t faithfully follow it. I cheated all the time. Not because I wanted to cheat—I didn’t sneak food one night because I was craving it—but it is so hard to live with food allergies. Did I want to be that guy that grilled the wait staff about what was in each menu item? When I asked someone if it had dairy and they replied “Eh, I don’t think so”, do I push them on it?

I do it for my kid, but we also naturally gravitate to the places we know are safe for the family now. It is one thing to show up somewhere and realize the only thing your kid can eat is the fruit salad and toast when they’re two. It’s harder to get away with that when they’re seven. Before going some place new, we need to check out their menu online, verify if they have allergen information on it (or at least see if their menu even suggests something might meet her needs), then call ahead to verify.

I realized in a fresh and new way how mindful she has to be of food constantly. I vented a bit about it on my daddyblog. To follow this Lenten practice, it wasn’t just keeping sweets out of the house or not buying soda at the store or something relatively isolated. To fully follow it, I would have to transform how I think about food and expand how often I think about it. It radically changed how I think about Olivia and food allergies—this is after growing up in a home with a mom allergic to tomatoes and being co-responsible for Olivia’s food for seven years. I truly thought I understood better.

As the sunsets on Good Friday and Lent 2017, while I’m very eager to eat without thinking about milk, eggs, or nuts, it is going to be a long time until I stop hearing this new voice

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Cake

Today is Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday—whatever you call it, it is the last day before Lent begins. Traditionally, the day is celebrated in some way, often pancakes as a way to use and enjoy eggs, milk, sugar and other foods that were often abstained from during Lent.

For us, every season is Lent for eggs and milk with multiple kids with allergies, but the celebration continues nevertheless. Vanessa outdid herself with a pancake cake. She made a number of pancakes of different sizes, alternating between vegan vanilla and vegan chocolate pancakes in decreasing size. Flipping the largest pancake is a feat the deserves a medal.


This is what happens to your brain when you stop eating sugar

I have a huge sweet tooth. I always have. My friend and fellow graduate student Andrew is equally afflicted, and living in Hershey, Penn., “Chocolate Capital of the World,” doesn’t help either of us. But Andrew is braver than I am. Last year, he gave up sweets for Lent. I can’t say that I’m following…

Source: This is what happens to your brain when you stop eating sugar

My willpower when sugar is near is null, while I would like to blame brain chemistry, I am just an emotional eater who hasn’t met a chocolate bar that didn’t deserve a nibble. Just need to keep the sweets out of arms’ reach.

No, Put the Chicken Broth Back!

Can you use meat-based broths on Fridays in Lent?

I vote no.

Rocco of Whispers in the Loggia asked the question this morning if chicken broth sans the chicken itself can be used today (as a Friday in Lent). A reader pointed him to Jimmy Akin (another Catholic blogger) who said yes.

I’m not a canon lawyer, but you don’t need to be to get a reasonable answer. The beauty of the Catholic faith is 99% of the teachings, rules and regulations simply make sense if you accept the premises and the authority of the Church to decree certain things, such as the whole notion of Lent.

First, the canon law argument. Mr. Akin tries to claim that since the 1917 Canon Law prohibits “meat and soups of meat, but not” milks, etc and that the Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini of Paul VI (which establishes the rules in force) simply says “use of meat, but not…”, we are no longer bound to avoid soups of meat. Wait… No, sir.

Boxes of Chicken Broth

photocredit: flickr/pswansen

I don’t know how you make chicken broth, but in my house, we take leftover pieces of chicken and leftover pieces of vegetables, place them in water and leave it heating on the stove a long time. Then, we extract the solid and the remaining liquid is the broth. I’m just a simple layman, but that seems to be using meat.

Paul VI, of blessed memory, stated that milk, eggs and condiments rendered from animal fat are acceptable. Thank you, as I have zero idea what is in any of my condiments. Wouldn’t it be easy to add broths if such an exemption was foreseen? Read More

Kindles, iPods and Lent

I bought a Kindle last October and loved it instantly. I’ve read a number of books, including the few reviews on this site since then. In fact, all of the books I’ve read since October have been on the Kindle.

Until now.

Amazon Kindle

photocredit: flickr/tompagenet

I love books. I love having a bookshelf full of books. I admitted to myself when buying the Kindle that I would still buy the physical book if it was something that anticipate wanting to add to the physical library. In this case, I purchased The Emerging Diaconate by Deacon William Ditewig, PhD. My interest for the diaconate and my thoughts on this book are for another post, but I thought that I’d want to keep this one in physical form. Read More

Lent 2011 #2

Well, alright. Last time I went into some of my Lenten challenges. The biggest lesson I learned: you must discuss your Lenten ideas with your wife.

V and I did. Sorta. We discussed what we were thinking of doing, but we didn’t have a definitive “this is what we’re doing” talk. I didn’t plan on going vegan or give up red meat for Lent–those things would impact the house if our dinner menu has to change for 40 days–so I didn’t think much about it.

I gave up snacks. V gave up snacks that she didn’t make herself.

I didn’t think the difference would mean that much, but oh man. Instead of avoiding buying cookies or snacks, now she’s baked two batches of cookies since Lent started. The first batch, we were out of eggs, so she made some not-as-great-as-I’ve-had-before cookies. No biggie. I snuck some…

But, the second batch. Whoa. Now, these were cookies. I don’t even want to know what she calls them so I can’t ask for them in the future. They’re that good. They’re the type of cookies that you take a bite, slap yourself and try another to make sure your taste buds weren’t hijacked.

So needless to say, I fell off the wagon on that item.