food allergies As many of you already know (and we’ve mentioned it only about a few hundred times), Jason has a lot of food allergies. It’s for this reason why we don’t eat out because he has gotten sick too many times from eating something that was supposedly “safe” but wasn’t. We eat at home 99.9% of the time now, cooking everything from scratch. It’s the only way we can be sure of what he’s eating and keep his allergies under control.
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/Fine DiningLife is very different when you can’t eat out or that you have to be careful about EVERYTHING you eat. We miss out on a lot of things.
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/People who don’t have food allergies / dietary restrictions don’t realize how much of life, community, fellowship, relationships, work, social events, and activities revolve around food. We really miss the joy of being able to eat out with friends, celebrate birthdays, hang out with colleagues, fellowship and build relationships over meals, try different restaurants in town, travel around the world, not to mention being able to leave the house for more than half a day.
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/We spend less time outside and more time at home. When we do eat out for whatever reason, whether business meals or invitations to people’s homes, Jason either eats at home first or brings his own lunch box. If he really has to eat out, then he orders plain fried rice that’s just rice, eggs, and salt. Or if at Japanese restaurants, he orders sashimi.
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/Generally, we avoid having to eat outside of home because 1) it’s awkward (and not convenient) bringing your own food to a restaurant or friend’s place, 2) it’s depressing watching everyone else eat while Jason sits and stares at the food, 3) it’s annoying having to explain to everyone all the time the list of things he can’t eat, 4) we hate having the attention/conversation centered around Jason’s allergies (it’s like pouring salt on a wound), and 5) it’s not worth the risk of accidentally eating something he’s allergic to or the likelihood of cross contamination during the food preparation.
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/image In addition to not being able to eat out, we are also limited by what we can buy when we go grocery shopping. We have to read ingredient labels very carefully. Walking down any Carrefour aisle, we’d have to look at about 100 different items before we can find ONE thing Jason can eat. It’s really sad and depressing to shop for food. We’ve pretty much given up on processed / packaged food, and instead, make everything from scratch.
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A Blessing in Disguise

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/Before this blog post turns into a downward spiral of self-pity, complaining, and grumbling, we do want to say the flipside to having this dietary limitation is that we know what’s inside everything we eat (and don’t eat). It’s a blessing in disguise actually. Since we read the labels very carefully in addition to doing lots of research about diet/health, we are quite aware of what we eat. There are so many “bad” ingredients in most food items. Most people don’t think twice about putting what looks to be good into their mouth. In reality, almost everything (at least it is in China) is coated in lots of fat, oil, sugar, artificial flavorings, MSG, mystery ingredients, empty calories, etc… It’s a good thing we don’t include them in our diet!
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/Organic
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/Whole Foods Now we eat mostly whole and organic food. We grind our own gluten-free flours and bake our own gluten-free bread. We’ve cut out a lot of processed items, like white starch/flour/rice and high-sugar content foods from our diet. We eat and drink lots of organic vegetables and fruits. We also avoid eating “unclean meat” like pork, shrimp, shellfish, etc… Soon, we’ll be planting our own vegetables/fruits and raising our own free-range chicken on our balconies. (We have 7 balconies!)
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/We actually feel so much healthier and happier!
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/The challenge is still how we can participate in social events and activities since a big part of community (and work) life still revolves around food.
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Weekend Getaway

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/This weekend, Jason went on a 4-day company outing to Xian (西安). Every spring, his entire company (Roche R&D Shanghai) goes on a 4-day company outing. In the 4 years since working at Roche, they’ve traveled to Yunnan (云南), Hainan (海南), Xiamen (厦门), and Xian! They stay at these fancy 5-star hotels and eat lots of really yummy food. When the company foots the bill, they really live it up! But poor Jason, the past 3 years, he ate plain fried rice (just rice and eggs) every meal while his colleagues ate lobsters, shrimps, steak,and other delicacies. This year, however, his company made a special effort to coordinate with the hotel chef regarding his allergies/diet. The head chef came up with a special menu just for Jason!  Wow! 
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/Then next month, our church is having a retreat at this nice hotel. If it weren’t for the nice venue, we wouldn’t have been able to attend. We’ve prepared a list of safe and unsafe ingredients list for the chef to look at so that Jason can eat more than just plain fried rice.
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/So we thought about all the kind people in the community that wish to invite us over for dinner (hint hint) but are afraid of making Jason sick. We’ve put together a list of safe and unsafe ingredients below. It’s really not that bad if you know what you can use instead of what you can’t.
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Safe Ingredients

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  • seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic, herbs (parsley, oregano), balsamic vinegar
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  • meats: chicken, beef, fish
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  • eggs
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  • green vegetables, any kind of peppers, carrots, onions, potato, corn, garlic
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  • legumes: beans, peanuts, soy
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  • most fruits (except see list of unsafe ingredients below)
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  • nuts: almonds, cashew, walnut, pistachio
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  • plain white or brown rice
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  • tofu
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  • gluten-free flours: corn starch, rice flour, glutinous rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, sorghum flour, millet flour
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Unsafe Ingredients

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  • wheat/gluten containing products: soy sauce, MSG, many
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    /premade seasonings/sauces, salad dressings, modified food starch, starch, Worcestershire sauce, malt extract, barley extract, breads, pastas, cakes, biscuits, cookies
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  • tomato containing products: fresh tomato, ketchup, BBQ sauces, many premade seasonings/sauces, salsa
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  • dairy products: milk, butter, cream, margarine, cheese, ice cream, sherbet, chocolate
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  • some fruits: bananas, kiwis
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Preferences*

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  • prefer honey over sugar
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  • avoid pork & shellfish
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  • prefer olive oil over vegetable/peanut/corn oil
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  • 100% fruit juice, avoid sugary drinks
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/* Preferences only, won’t make Jason sick
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/With that said, we’ve been posting a lot of health tips, recipes, and food/health-related articles on our other blog, Simply Gluten-Free (http://www.simplygf.com). You can go there to get some ideas for Jason-friendly recipes.

One Response to “Food Allergies and Jason-Friendly List”

  1. Hello Jason and Susan! I was looking for a descriptive picture for my Sunday sermon, and your “man in the rain” pic came up on Google. I clicked on it and found your wonderful site. I am a Pastor in Scottsdale, AZ of a non-denominational, Christian church. The first things I noticed on your site are your love of Christ, and also saw the word Vitamix. LOL! My wife and 2 children live for their Vitamix. They have what is called, “Leaky Gut” Syndrome. I always pass that along when I run into someone who seems to have an undue amount of allergies. As you must, my wife cooks everything from scratch, and has even created a recipe for bread out of chicken! It appears safe according to your list. My family craves it. If you want the recipe, drop me a line. I know she’d be thrilled to send it. I never consider anything coincidence, so I thought I’d be forward and drop you a line.
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    /God bless you!
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    /Pastor Rowdy Van Horn
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    /pastorrowdy@gmail.com
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    /thegodexperiment.org
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    /thefreedomcenter.tv

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