As anyone who has proudly baked a birthday cake or fed their children a homemade pasta dish will tell you - food lies right at the heart of the relationship between parent and child. So, it often comes as something as a shock when a child is diagnosed as being allergic to a certain food group. Luckily, these days there is a growing market for 'allergy-friendly' foods which are both quick and convenient. While once these products were banished to the back of health store shelves, due to increasing demand many are now available in major supermarkets.
Foods for Lactose Intolerance
Once considered the key ingredient for a happy childhood, many believe that cows' milk is slowly falling out of fashion with parents who are concerned that their children are having difficulty digesting it on a daily basis. For cereal (and for general drinking if children lock into the often rather sweet taste) soya milk is a good cows' milk alternative that's now freely available in shops, and some restaurants. If you're worried about your child's calcium intake then choose a brand with added calcium - and make sure your child gets plenty of calcium rich foods such as fish, beans and pulses.
For parents looking for a more 'natural' choice that's closer to the taste of cows' milk, goats' milk is another recent success story that's worth looking into. Many allergy-sufferers who consume goats' milk claim that it's easy to digest and has a more 'milk-like' consistency than soya. The demand for goat's milk has risen so much over the last five years that manufacturers claim if the trend continues there may be a shortage of goats by 2012!
Like milk, bread is also central to Western diets - although many people are discovering that children can be sensitive to gluten proteins present in their daily loaf. There are many gluten-free bread products out there (often found in the 'free-from' section of your local health store or supermarket), although unfortunately many are of variable quality and can be expensive compared to bread. By far the best option is to visit your local deli and ask if they can bake you fresh gluten-free rolls or bread for your child. In many big cities bakers will already offer a gluten free range. Cakes are easier to come by, with a vast selection of gluten free treats available online. But watch out, to make up for a loss of texture some manufacturers can send sugar levels sky-high.
Foods for Nut Allergies
As current debate ranges on whether mums partial to nuts when pregnant are causing, or curing potential nut allergies - one thing's for sure, an allergy to nuts is certainly one of the most dangerous and extreme allergies for children. Therefore, it's not surprising that parents are well-used to checking labels for the presence of nuts. Out of this problem some manufacturers have seen a potential market and now make snack food guaranteed to have been made in a strictly nut-free environment. Again, these products can tend to be sugary (cakes and cereal bars are constant favourites) but they do offer parents some peace of mind.
For More Information
Most manufacturers, from goats' milk producers to makers of nut-free bars are often small independent businesses who thrive on feedback. So, if you need more information on a product, or want to share a success story, don't hesitate to get in contact with them through their website. Allergy-free foods have certainly been a recent foodie success story, and by putting them on your shopping list you'll help the various ranges become even more widely available.