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Shopping for Kids with AllergiesOPENING THE LID ON THE WEEKLY SHOP

"What does he eat?" How many times have you heard that, allergy mums and dads?! I've lost count. When you mention catering for a gluten, egg, nut and dairy allergy, you'll hear that question at least once a week. The answer I give is: "Mainly fruit, veges, meat and rice products." There are actually lots of alternatives for almost every food nowadays, although some of the products are rather costly, so it pays to shop around.

When you first enter the allergy world, it can be overwhelming, although I found it a relief that we had a diagnosis. There is a lot more reading the back of food packets in supermarkets and a lot more preparation in the kitchen but I now have a good system going and that has become the norm.

For my family, I find the big shop at Pak'nSave to be most cost-effective. I also use Countdown for the Free From and Macro Organic Range and our local New World for the Allergywise bread that it stocks. It also has a large range of allergy-free products, including Orgran and Free From. Specialist stores such as the Gluten Free Shop in Auckland and Tauranga, or local health shops, are fantastic for specific products such as cheese substitutes, any kind of grain or treats such as Cocoyo (beautiful coconut yoghurt that's dairy free), and the divine Nice Cream (a dairy-free coconut ice cream).

Depending on whether or not you can consume products 'made in the same factory production line' as some of the brands I use may suit you. I know when my son was under 12 months old, he never consumed anything made on the same production line as nut or egg products but now he is two years old, he seems to tolerate certain mainstream products.

The majority of supermarkets now have natural or health food sections where you can find most products you're looking for. Do keep reading the back of packets in the mainstream section though, you'll be surprised that some of the foods are allergy free – and cheaper...

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Issue: Spring 2014