Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Features

February 27, 2014

Juggling food allergies

Earl family learns to live without gluten, peanuts, tree nuts and tomatoes

Cooking at the Earl house sometimes gets a little complicated.

On spaghetti night, Kimberly Earl can’t use normal noodles or tomato sauce. She can’t fix her kids peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the only way the family can order pizza is if she eats something else.

Three of the four members of their family suffer from food allergies.

Earl’s son, now 7, was diagnosed with anaphylaxis to peanuts and all tree nuts when he was a year old. You only find that one out the hard way, she said.

Then her daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in October 2012 at the age of 8, which was followed about one month later with a diagnosis of celiac disease. That’s a severe allergy to the gluten found in wheat, rye and barley.

Celiac disease often goes hand-in-hand with type 1 diabetes, the mother said.

“This was a big learning experience, not only counting every carb she eats and all that goes along with diabetes, but also now avoiding a food that is such a staple in the American diet,” Earl said.

Then after her daughter’s diagnosis, her son started complaining about stomach pains and developed severe eczema. The culprit, she said, was celiac disease.

The whole family went gluten free after that, for obvious reasons, she said.

Just a few months ago Earl herself found out she was likely allergic to tomatoes.

After learning to live with all of the other allergies, though, hers seemed pretty minor, she said.

The Earl clan sat around a table at McAlister’s Deli on a recent afternoon. It’s one of their favorite spots in town, though they’re limited in what they can order these days.

McAlister’s doesn’t offer gluten-free options like a growing number of restaurants, Earl said. Instead, the kids choose foods that are naturally gluten free.

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