Friday, September 15, 2017

Cross- Contamination IS the Real Deal

NutriSon will be 16 this fall....sigh, that is another article altogether but through these almost 16 years, I have ingrained specific habits to keep everyone as safe as possible from allergens. This includes those who visit and also have dietary or specific allergy needs. I don't discriminate- keeping everyone safe is a priority to me. In the beginning, I was the mom who would prepare our foods and his foods. There were times when I would catch myself not remembering if I used the same spoon or accidentally forgot to wash my hands in between the two meals which lead to me tossing my son's foods in fear of harming him. Lots of unnecessary food wasted but absolutely necessary for safety purposes. No matter the cost of the foods that were thrown away, they will never compare to the cost of my son's life.

Flash forward to now- 99% of our meals are free from all of my son's allergens so that I know there are no mistakes. Even though it's been this long, I STILL automatically remind everyone in our home (and outside of) to use precautionary strategies: Did you wash your hands before you touched that? Make sure you use separate spoons. Don't lick that spoon while you're mixing it.....etc. etc. Sometimes this gets me dirty looks as if I don't trust whoever I am repeating it to but for me, it's a habit that is part of whatever meal I make. Kind of like a piece of the recipes forever. And those dirty looks I get- yeah, I don't care because ultimately, it's STILL my son's life and I don't care how angry you may get at me for reminding you about that. So just chill and don't take it so personally because it is 0% about you and 100% about my son. Enough said.

Recently, I posted a question asking page members to share their cross contamination tips. I got bunches of amazing responses and I was so excited to see that so many shared what works for them to keep all of us safe. One woman in particular went above and beyond to share ALL of her safeguards and although all of her tips mirrored what I do for all of my meals, I was amazed at how I didn't think to share them myself. I reached out to her and asked if I could share her tips and she was more than happy too.

Meet Darlene "Being anaphylactic to corn, pepper & hot peppers, black walnut, garlic, tomato, onions, almonds, and shellfish can cause severe reactions along with asthma attacks. As you can see with this severe list, it's an absolute must that we follow a strict guideline in my home to try to keep me safe as possible. I have beat a lot of odds and I am a survivor and I'm not willing to give up this world yet. There is one thing that I have definitely learned through all this... I hear all the time from people "Oh my God, I would never survive living without all those foods and having all those allergies!" and my answer to them is when it makes you that sick and you know what real sickness and pain is, you truly will avoid those things that make you that sick because you do not want to suffer like that. Not only does it change your lifestyle at home but as you know you don't go out to eat or you're greatly limited on eating out and my case it's almost near-impossible today." Here is what Darlene shared:

How Many of These Do YOU Practice?
  • We use different toasters and waffle makers. 
  • All food heated up in the microwave must be covered. 
  • No food is allowed on the counter top, you must always use a plate or a cutting board.
  • Each condiment or container (like peanut butter and jam) must use a separate piece of serving ware for each container.  
  • Every serving container must have its own serving ware inside the bowl or pan before serving is allowed. Absolute requirement that you place the same serving utensil back from the serving container you got it from. 
  • Only my safe foods can be used in my heirloom wooden bowls passed down for my grandparents. 
  • No allergy foods can be used in hand washed kitchen items. All other kitchenware must go through a sink rinse and then the dishwasher. 
  • All foods must be covered in the refrigerator.  
  • Keep separate cabinets- there are 2 spice cabinets that sit across the kitchen from each other. If you go to one cabinet, it's all of my safe spices & baking accessories and the other cabinet contains the same that is not for me. Then there is another set of cabinets that are across the kitchen that contain all my safe foods. Basically, if you go to those cabinets and I can eat any of those foods. If it's not friendly for me, it automatically goes into the other cabinets on the other side of kitchen.  
  • I had to teach the family that you hold down packages of flours and powder foods towards the bottom of a bowl or pitcher and pour contents slowly. Things like gluten powder or things that have corn powders in them, etc. Don't need allergy puff clouds floating in the air to breathe-in. 
  • All foods cooked in the oven that is an allergen must have a tight lid or covered in tin foil. If cooking something like biscuits that cannot be cooked with a cover you must cover the pan with tin foil and dispose of it after cooking.  
  • Always cook with our ventilating fan on. 
  • Do lots of wipe downs and keep lots of rags on hand for the extra daily wipe downs. 
  • No one is allowed to drink from someone else's drinking glasses, eat out of each other's dishes or share silverware. 
  • Keep 2 differently designed spoon rests on the counter to use when cooking allergen and non-allergen foods at the same time.  
  • Foods that I'm strongly allergic to that when you cook oils disperse through the air (like black pepper, cayenne pepper, onions, garlic, etc.) are not allowed to be cooked at all in my house. If I'm going to be out of the house for a couple of days, the family is allowed to have onion and black pepper parties (lol). This is literally a thing in my household that my family gets excited about when I'm not home for a couple of days. They could cook whatever they want on the 1st night and then the whole 2nd day they open up all the windows, run fans and air out the house and wipe the kitchen clean.
"It is a lot of work to get everybody trained but once everybody gets used to all of the rules in the house, it's just become second nature and normal. It will seem like an impossible task at the beginning but everybody will fall in sync. And from personal experience, once somebody has cross-contaminated you and you've had an allergic reaction... trust me how quickly the whole household learns the follow the rules."

Darlene spent most of her childhood battling constant upper respiratory infections along with skin breakouts and painful rashes. She has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, leaky gut syndrome found linked to the cause of her dairy allergy and others and later asthma triggered by certain foods. After years of thinking she was being poisoned, someone mentioned testing her for Celiac Disease which changed her life and gave her some new answers. Darlene also mentions "One of the very important things that I have to do is follow a diet rotation because if I eat all the foods that are allowed left for me to eat and I do not rotate them, my body has a higher risk of becoming allergic to them still. That happened to me in August of 2016.  Financially, times got hard in the summer of 2016 and I was watching every penny and eggs were just dirt cheap. So I was eating a lot of eggs and wasn't following diet rotation properly due to what I could afford at the time. That became tragic because now I'm allergic to eggs. I've been following a diet rotation for years now since 2007."

I want to thank Darlene for sharing so much of her persona wisdom with us- sharing is so very important to keep everyone safe!  
Do you have a tip that you would like to share? Leave a comment below~

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