It’s National Garden Week, so I wanted to share how and why we incorporate gardening into our lifestyle!
Last year, our family planted an herb garden and in addition to the usual benefits of fresh air and digging in the dirt, we found that creating and tending to our herb garden has remarkable advantages for living joyfully with allergies.
First, cultivating our herbs is a proactive food experience. Since no herb has been a trigger for either W or me, we are open to creating the garden of our dreams and are enthusiastic and bold in selecting which herbs to plant and where to plant them. We are the designers and the caretakers of our herb garden—not only nurturing the plants but also strengthening a sense of ownership over our edible choices (that can often be pre-determined for us based on allergies).
Second, it gets us out of our food rut. As anyone with food allergies can attest to, it is often easier to turn to tried and true recipes. Yet cooking the same foods in the same way over and over again can become mundane. Having an array of herbs at our fingertips inspires us to find new recipes that incorporate the herbs from our garden with our safe foods. We enjoy experimenting with different dishes and look forward to trying even more new ones, especially as the seasons change. Watermelon mint lemonade, anyone?
And last, but certainly not least, having an herb garden creates a positive and hands-on food experience for W. He loves running out to pick a sprig of rosemary or oregano and adding it to the roasting pan of hots. In doing so, his culinary participation extends beyond eating what is placed in front of him (which, with FPIES, can be limiting), into handling and understanding the ingredients. This can be especially important for developing a healthy, positive food relationship for a little one with food allergies.
Happy gardening (herb or otherwise)!