Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dairy and Soy Elimination Diet: Part III On Vacation!

I have no been dairy and soy free for about five months. In case you missed it, check out Part I where we figured out Henry had an allergy, Part II where I started to learn more about what I could and could not eat, and my dairy and soy free Thanksgiving! I was so excited to go on our vacation to Rincon. However, the excitement was muddled by the fear of cross contamination. I used to work at a Disney owned restaurant, and Disney does NOT play around with food allergies. They are vigilant, regimented and extremely cautious. If you told a server that you had a food allergy, the head chef would come to the table, discuss the allergy and options, and make the meal themselves. A few restaurants I have been to have been very understanding and accommodating, such as Queens Comfort, Buffalo Wild Wings (Surprising!) and Bareburger, but other places seem to not realize the seriousness. I had a cross contamination, with what I gather to be dairy because of Henry's reaction, and will not be eating at that establishment again. So, as you can imagine vacationing in the Puerto Rico, where vegetable oil (contain soy) is the most commonly used oil, was making me nervous.

I broke open my Kind bars in JFK! I brought two boxes of five bars. A lot of kind bars have dairy or soybean oil in them, so I was thankful that these two kinds were available

Here is how eating out went. Whenever I would go to check out a place BEFORE we decided to eat there (Because getting us to a restaurant, sitting down to eat then realizing I couldn't eat something there would have been so sad), I would go through the same investigation:

 Delicious veggie stir fry! 

Awesome pulled pork!

- Declare the allergy: I have a dairy and soy allergy. People usually say they understand and know most of the contaminants in their food. Thankfully I speak a decent amount of Spanish so if there was a language barrier I could definitely communicate effectively.
-  Then I would mention the uncommon contaminants: What oil do you cook with? Is there butter with your bread? Do you have the label for your ___________? (Tortillas, salad dressing and ketchup commonly have contaminants that restaurants don't think of.)
- Then we would walk through the menu, and they would tell me what and how to order.
- When I returned to the restaurant, I would reiterate that I had a dairy and soy allergy, what I wanted to order, and what my food could NOT touch.
- Surprising development: I brought my own oil! I've brought my own salad dressing to places, but a lot of the restaurants were like "Just bring your own stuff!" They were VERY accomodating. It helped that 90% of the establishments were owned by New Yorkers who often had an organic/vegan emphasis. I did not visit most local spots because the loss in translation was a big risk.

English style brunch! Rosemary turkey sweet potato hash, eggs and mixed greens. I took a bite of the mixed greens just as the chef ran out to say "There's vegetable oil in the mixed greens!" They hadn't communicated to the salad guy that I couldn't have the regular mixed greens. I spit it out (keeping it classy) and received a new order. Thankful for a chef that cared!

The BEST chicken and sweet potato. All smoked. That sweet potato was bigger than my hand. 

Did we avoid exposure? I don't think so. He started spitting up again while we were there. I got so upset. I think the difference between actually having an allergy and having the allergy for your child is feeling guilt. Mom guilt is SO strong. If Henry starts frequently spitting up, I know I ate something wrong and instantly start going through the food I have eaten. Thankfully, it appears that soy is not as big of an irritant to him as dairy. I'm assuming the food was exposed to vegetable oil in a minuscule amount, most likely from shared cooking utensils or pots that have it seeped in. He did not have blood in his stool and only spit up 2-3 times after eating instead of the 4-6 times that dairy usually causes. I did end up finding an organic grocery store that had soy free bread (Any packaged bread has soy, and since it's an island it had to be in the freezer section!) I ate a lot of turkey sandwiches. I'm sandwiched out.

Mimosas: allergy friendly FTW

Henry was never upset despite his allergies. This is one of the reasons why it took over three months for the doctors to believe me that his reactions were more than reflux. This guy is the best. The end.

How about you? Have you had diet restrictions on vacation? How do you feel emotionally if you've "messed up"? Have you tried to eat organic or vegan on trips? TELL ME ABOUT IT!
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