“He was about 4 when he started noticing all the things he can’t have,” said David Kaemmer about his 5-year old son, Luke. “Especially desserts. He yearns for desserts.”
Luke was an infant when his parents saw his reactions to certain foods. Puffy face, vomiting, and a scratchy throat were immediate reactions after eating certain new foods. Luke’s father, David, a violinist and music teacher in Shawnee, Kansas, and his mother, Emily, an environmental scientist, used trial and error to see what he could eat, although they suspected that he had food allergies.
By age 3, bloodwork at the University of Kansas Hospital confirmed that Luke had allergies to dairy, egg, tree nuts, peanuts, sesame, and sunflower protein.
Once they determined what we could not eat, Luke’s dad said, “now we had to figure out what he would eat, because he’s also a picky eater. Sometimes all he’ll eat are crackers and chicken nuggets.”
Luke’s older sister is allergic to tree nuts, so the family was used to avoiding certain foods. But, because Luke is allergic to so many different foods and is a picky eater it’s hard to figure out how to make dinner that everyone can eat. His parents also worry about the psychological impact. Sometimes Luke tells his Dad that he wishes he had a new body that did not have allergies. And he watches others eat what he can’t have.
“I was eating Cheeto Puffs and he said that looks good – but he knew he couldn’t have it,” David said. “And he had to trade away almost all of his Halloween candy.”
David says Luke has a good attitude and isn’t down about it too often. One thing that really helps keep up his mood is the box he receives from FEI.
“We learned about FEI from his allergist at KU,” said David. “Because of FEI, Luke gets a special box of food that his brother and sisters do not get, and for him that is a big deal. Plus, we get on the computer together and he gets to pick out the food that he wants every month.”
The FEI food deliveries also ease the food budget.
“A lot of stuff that we get from FEI we could not otherwise afford to buy. FEI has been a blessing for us; he’s so excited when he gets the food boxes and it’s so helpful. And he’s trying things he would not normally get a chance to try.”
Luke’s favorites include Chomps turkey sticks, Skinny Pop popcorn, Nature’s Valley fig bars, and Enjoy Life cookies – double chocolate chip and regular chocolate chip. (The more chocolate the better, of course.)
Luke’s family has been supportive of his food allergy. His brothers and two sisters help with reading labels and making sure that his food is safe for him to eat. They watch out for shared knives and cutting boards, too.
“They will double check with their mom and me to make sure he can have certain foods,” said David. “That’s good because I’ve made mistakes reading labels. I gave him something that had whey in it before I realized that whey is milk.”
His grandmother, Barbara Lambke, also modified a cookie recipe that is one of his favorites.
“Most recipes called for butter. So, I changed that to vegetable oil to see if that would work,” Barbara said. “It did!”
Now, her Raspberry Oatmeal Cookie Bars are one of Luke’s favorites.
Although Luke is kindergarten age, his parents kept him back a year because of his size. David says he’s very active and just burns off the calories. Luke weighs only 34 pounds and is in the 5th percentile for height and weight.
“We’re worried about what he would eat for lunch,” said David. “It’s not like we can give him a PB&J.”
Although the Kaemmers are concerned about Luke’s allergies, David advises, “be patient. Kids are really resilient. Even though you think it’s really bad and they are missing out on life, he’s really doing just fine. He’s a happy kid.”
Raspberry Oatmeal Cookie Bars
- 1/2 cup Brown sugar packed
- 1 cup Flour
- 1/4 tsp Baking soda
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- 1 cup Rolled oats
- 1/2 cup Vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup Raspberry jam seedless
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Mix all the ingredients together, except the jam.
- Spread out 2 cups of the cookie mixture in a greased 8 x 8 pan. Spread jam on top. Note: do not put the jam within 1/4 of the edge of the pan, keep it in the center.
- Put the remaining cookie mixture on top.
- Bake 35-40 minutes.