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Now that you know what foods I avoid, recently I was about what I do eat? Avoiding foods with nickel continues to be the best method to treat my nickel food allergy. This tactic is otherwise known as eating a low nickel diet.
Restricting my diet in this way is challenging, just like any other food allergy. Many times when I use recipes to make meals it involves making substitutions or modifications to avoid including foods that contain nickel. Accepting and knowing I would have to constantly make recipe adjustments has made eating food more enjoyable.
Every week, I try to meal plan before I go grocery shopping. Like many of you, I enjoy a busy life and don’t always take the time to meal plan. Now that I’ve been on the low nickel diet for 6 years I thoroughly understand what I can and cannot eat. When I shop for food, I try to avoid as many processed foods as I can. If I plan on purchasing something that’s processed, I read the ingredients every single time before I purchase it. Over the years, I’ve learned that food companies and manufactures continuously change the ingredients without providing any notice.
If you were recently diagnosed with a nickel food allergy and you’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s okay. I also felt overwhelmed when I first started the low nickel diet. The more I learned and remembered which foods contain high concentrations of nickel, the easier it became for me to dramatically adapt my food intake. It was an adjustment that took me about 6 months to a year for my spouse and I. We radically changed what we ate, our cookware and how we shopped for groceries. It did get better for me overtime and I hope it does for you too.
To clarify how I balance my nickel food allergy and the low nickel diet, here’s an idea of what I do eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Nickel free lemon cottage cheese pancakes.
– Breakfast –
Most mornings I enjoy eating Rice Chex or Kix cereal with rice milk, a banana or fresh blueberries and coffee. Until two months ago, I always poured 1% milk on my cereal. My change to rice milk was not related to my nickel allergy, but a choice to reduce my dairy intake. Occasionally I’ll make scrambled eggs with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes or homemade lemon cottage cheese pancakes.
– Lunch –
Ever since I was a child, I’ve preferred eating a sandwich for lunch. My sandwiches are always on sourdough bread, which I ensure doesn’t include any soy or soybean oil. Then I spread avocado on the bread, add soy-free turkey meat, Swiss cheese, tomato, onion, and basil leaves. I’ve not had any problems eating either dried or raw herbs. Instead of eating lunch meat, I sometimes make egg salad or tuna salad with celery, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and dried cranberries. Usually, I don’t use any condiments or I’ll use plain yogurt, mustard or Litehouse Ranch dressing.
In addition to a sandwich, I include raisins, a raw fruit and a vegetable side. Typically this includes an apple, orange, peach, pear and carrots or zucchini slices. If I need an additional and quick protein source, I include a hard-boiled egg. Occasionally, I’ll eat dinner leftovers for lunch with my fruit and veggie sides.
– Dinner –
Typically I have to plan my dinners a day or two in advance. This past week I made spaghetti with egg noodles, a tuna vegetable dish with homemade croutons, steak with a mushroom cream sauce and asparagus, turkey meat tacos with peppers and onions and one night I enjoyed seasoned salmon with steamed carrots and jasmine rice. I also love to eat soup for dinner, whether that’s Zuppa Toscana, Beef Stew or Broccoli Cheese soup!
Initially when I was first diagnosed, my partner also avoided foods with nickel with me. She’s a great support. However, over time we learned that her body needs to eat whole grains, nuts, leafy greens and many other foods that are very nutritious, but happen to be high in nickel.
Now we buy two different types of bread, two different types of pasta and various other foods I avoid and she enjoys. For instance when I make spaghetti, I make both egg noodles and whole grain noodles in two separate dishes. When we make chili, I scoop out a couple portions for me before the beans are added.
Learning how to adapt recipes and shop for groceries has been an ongoing process for both me and my partner. Reducing my eczema by eating the low nickel diet and nearly eliminating the itching has been one of the best rewards.