Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Former Coupon Queen Comes Clean Part. 2

If you missed the first part of this series, you can read it here.
When we left off we found out our oldest daughter had an allergy to food dyes and wheat. And
I was finally reading food labels, not price stickers.

I went into the kitchen and scoured the fridge. We were left with meat and a veggie.
For weeks I struggled.
I tried to by the food dye free gluten free foods.
Wow, they were expensive.
No one told me what was naturally dye free or naturally gluten free.
I struggled as my own wheat test indicated I too should not be consuming wheat.
I stopped.
For months I replaced our normal processed food diet with processed gluten free
It still was a struggle and more than anything for this former Coupon Addict...it was really expensive.
3 months in, I made a wonderful friend. She was a Celiac.
While we had issues with wheat we were not deemed Celiac, just intolerant.
She taught me what in nature was naturally gluten free.
I put down the boxed meals and starting combing the internet.
Surely others were experiencing what I was.
I was shocked by the sheer number who was.
I found community, information and most of all.....
I found hope.
Fast forward to today.
Our family on a whole is gluten free and uses no artificial food dyes.
I am mostly grain free. We purchase 50% of our food on a regular basis organically.
My husband lost over 100 lbs. I lost 40. My children's faces are rosy and healthy now.
They have energy that they never knew before.
We do this on a budget of $100 - $125 a week. For a family of 5. No coupons.
If organic was not important to us, I could go much lower.
But since we believe that part of the growing population to food allergy is
environmental related, we choose to opt out whenever possible.
But there are tight weeks where I can buy all the food we consume non-organically
for less than $75 for the week. 
No more coupons.
No more processed foods.
No more Stockpile Room.
The reason for telling this story is that I hope that another family who may be experiencing
what we did or just have questions, can be comforted that there is hope.
Having food allergies does not mean your grocery budget has to be so high.
Your not doomed to eat from a small shelf in your grocery store. There are so many options.
Later on I will show examples of our daily diet in hopes to shed light on how this can be affordable.
Until then, I want to encourage people struggling with food allergies or health issues related to food
that you need not be envious of the couponers. You too can save money and eat well. :)


Bama Girl said...

I enjoyed reading this series! We are not gluten intolerant but we are lactose intolerant. We do eat cheese, however and it doesn't seem to bother us. I have to buy the Lactaid milk for the hubs and son. I rarely even drink milk. We are considering goats in the future. We need to find a source for goat milk before deciding, however. Sounds like you have come a long way with your family's wheat intolerance and couponing! Congrats on everything! Can't wait to read more! Blessings from Bama!

Chele said...

Most of our family is lactose intolerant, so I completely understand. We just go without for the most part. When we do indulge it is either raw cows milk or raw goats milk. We have found that in the raw state we can digest it. Mostly because it has a built in enzyme to help you do so! God was so smart when he designed this. ;)

Mary Brown said...

I dont know how you do it. My youngest is lactose intolerant and I have been struggling for months to find things to eat. She is exclusively breastfed and therefore I cant have the lactose. I always over spend our budget. One week we will eat healthy the next I just gave and say it is to hard and buy junk. Really want to afford to be organic eaters.

Chele said...

It took YEARS for me to get here. There is not one simple trick to doing this. We don't snack, I menu plan, we only purchase what we need and I could go on and on and on and on....
I would suggest you find one thing you want to always purchase organically or what I would call 'clean' and focus on that. Then once you feel you have mastered that, find another thing.
It is a process and your never always going to get it right.
We have weeks where I throw in the towel too. Hang in there! :)

Tammy said...

When my older daughter was 2 - after 2 years of ear infections and finding out at 3 MONTHS old that she was allergic to penicillin because the day before Valentine's she broke out in hives and a fever and by the day after V-day, she had hives, a fever, & had swelled up and turned purple, but had one too few ear infections that year for the doctor to recommend tubes in her ears, so we got to go through this another year and this time she became allergic to Zythromiacin (though not nearly so sever a reaction). That year she got tubes in her ears. We then got a referral to an allergist. Come to find out, in addition to certain environmental allergies, she was allergic to corn, wheat, beef, potatoes, and a couple of other items. Fortunately, she was allergic to mostly things that are not healthy anyway. She did not drink milk until she was 2 because it upset her stomach so. She was given soy milk instead. When she could finally tolerate milk, I was shocked to notice that when I would give her a treat of pre-made chocolate milk, she would break out in a rash. I checked the label: high fructose corn syrup was one of the first few ingredients. She still does not like corn much nor is she much on potatoes or French fries.
When my younger daughter was about 1 year old, she was tested. She, too, was allergic to corn, but also to milk. She was given almond milk instead. That worked really well. I kept having people ask me if she was lactose intolerant and I had to explain that, no, she was truly, in fact, allergic to milk. Last year at age 4, she broke out in welts all over her body after eating Girl Scout peanut butter sandwich cookies. I checked. She was not allergic to peanuts. What could it be? Then I noticed "corn." There were so many ingredients with corn in that recipe that it was no surprise she broke out.
I, on the other hand, found out when we tested her that I am allergic to planet earth - 92 of 96 items. The worst allergies are to healthy things. I am not allergic to: crab (though highly allergic to shrimp), tuna nor salmon (though I am highly allergic to whitefish), nor cinnamon. I am highly allergic to turkey, venison, melons, eggs, milk, onions, olives (including olive oil), soy beans, pinto beans, green beans... The healthy stuff.
Try finding products with no corn for a child. Even Kellogg's Rice Crispies have HFCS. The store brand did not and was less expensive. WIC would not put the store brand of cereal on their list, so we bought the store brand and did not use the cereal allotment.
Try finding products without soy or milk or olive ingredients. I suck it up for butter. I use lard when I can rather than shortening (soy), and canola oil. I also eat cheese. If I eat anything else on the list, I have to be willing to pay the consequences. By lowering my consumption of these foods, I have found that my environmental allergies (which can be severe) are minimized.
For those companies who do provide alternatives, I do write or call them to let them know how much their efforts are appreciated and why. This encourages them to continue providing products our family can eat. Examples include: Hunt's ketchup, Nestle Quick powdered drink mix, Log Cabin Original syrup, Hellman's Canola mayonaise (there is a subtle difference in flavor, but it is worth it to me), and others.
For anyone in this boat who finds a company, small or large, that is making adjustments to accomodate those of us with severe allergies to these chemically modified foods, give the company kudos, promote them to your friends, bring them to pot-lucks and tell people why, and continue to buy their products. The more of us who do this, the better the food choices will be for all of us.
Chele, thanks for your article and for letting me share on your blog. God bless you and best wishes to each of you on your journey to healthy eating and healthy living!

Chele said...

Thank you for sharing your amazing story with us!
We are seeing more and more of these severe type allergies. Highly processed foods are not food. And if we continue to trick our bodies into thinking they are, we are going to continue to see the side effects in us and our children.
I am praying for you and your daughter Wendy!

The P*dunc's said...

i look forward to your future posts about this!