A recipe for success when children are on restricted diets
Dylan Boone is an active and healthy boy who is looking forward to entering second grade in late August. But while his friends will enjoy a wide variety of snacks and cookout food during the long summer days away from school, Dylan will continue to be as careful about what he eats as has been during lunch periods and snack times as a student in Tracy Leonard’s first grade class at Elk Ridge School.
Dylan has been on a restricted diet in the year and a half since he was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE), an allergic reaction in the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach) that can be triggered by certain foods. His family’s efforts to maintain a variety of well-rounded meals with limited ingredients recently led Dylan’s mom, Kyle, to publish “Dylan’s Dishes,” a beginner’s guide of recipes, shopping suggestions, and tips for parents new to the dietary changes that come with EE, a disease which was unknown 20 years ago.
In most cases the underlying cause of EE is a food allergy, and doctors may order a restricted diet for their patients. Dylan is currently on a diet free of most dairy products, chicken, wheat, soy, gluten and even apples.
The 50 recipes in “Dylan’s Dishes” are those Dylan and his family have enjoyed since his diagnosis. “The book includes typical recipes that I’ve adapted with alternative ingredients, like brownies that are gluten, soy and dairy free, and I list the products you can use to make them,” said Mrs. Boone.
Most people have difficulty avoiding even one type of food, but Dylan has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to the absence of many of the foods that children love. However, Mrs. Boone knows how difficult it can be for parents of children on restricted diets to keep meals interesting and tasty.
“I’m in the medical field, and at first I felt I knew where I would need to shop and the alternative items I would buy,” said Mrs. Boone, who works in the radiology department at Jennersville Regional Hospital. “I still found out how really difficult it can be to cook with limited ingredients. I thought that if I’m knowledgeable and was struggling, there are probably many parents who are having an even harder time.”
“There is no eating out when you have a child with EE,” she adds. “You have to plan. I have a set menu from Sunday through Friday, so on a Wednesday night I know what I’m cooking, where to shop and how to organize my shopping.
“Your only option is to cook from scratch. So I started putting together tips for parents to get started with, and along with the recipes that worked for me the book came together.”
When Dylan was being treated at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Mrs. Boone was surprised by how little dietary information was provided for parents of children with EE. “You have to do all the research, you have to find everything you need, and it was by talking to people in the alternative food stores that many of these recipes came about,” she said. “I wish there were more recipes in the book, but that shows how limited your options really are.”
With the recent publication of “Dylan’s Dishes,” Mrs. Boone and her husband, Shelby, are hoping that copies will be available at CHOP for parents to take home after their child is placed on a restricted diet. “As parents of a child with EE, you are forced to learn a lot quickly - I didn’t know what coconut milk was until I had to,” said Mrs. Boone with a laugh.
Mrs. Boone also acknowledged that planning a diet like Dylan’s can be an expensive process. “The alternatives are not cheap,” she said. “Luckily I have a son who will try anything.
“Dylan is very adaptable, and is careful about what he eats. He will always ask first if he can have this or that. He adapts because he knows that he feels better eating this way.”
“Dylan’s Dishes” is available at lulu.com