Tell us a little about yourself and family.
I am the mama of 4 wonderful children. The two oldest I was blessed with via marriage, they are 18 and 13. Our two youngest, 3 and 8 months old both have severe food allergies, specifically FPIES. Our family lives on a small 5 acre farm up two dirt roads in the rural area of northern New Mexico. We love to do art projects, play card and board games, garden, and farm.
What food sensitivities did your kid(s) have as infants?
Haha….the list is LONG. So far my son’s only safes are Voss water in the glass container and Neocate infant formula. My daughter, who is now 3 has over 20 trigger foods that we know of and is having a hard time gaining new safe foods.
What symptoms or reactions made you suspect a food sensitivity?
Vomiting, diarrhea, mucus and blood in stool, rashes, stomach pain, screaming for hours on end, not sleeping, etc.
How did you change your diet or the family’s diet?
My own allergies to dairy and tree nuts that I developed as an adult introduced my husband and older girls to the world of allergies. When our younger children came along it was at least not a total shock to read labels and know about allergy safety.
For each child we did things a little differently. For my daughter, I took out foods from my diet when it became apparent that she was reacting to them. The major calories we avoided were basically the top eight (except eggs being safe) plus a ton of fruits and veggies (rices, oats, and all grains except corn have been triggers as well).
For my son, I went down to a 10 food TED trying to see what he reacted to- that included oil and salt. No matter what food I tried he reacted to. When he was 9 weeks old he was projectile vomiting, was having increasingly more visible blood in his stools, crying the majority of the day and not sleeping well at night or napping at all, and more.
The final straw was that he stopped gaining weight. We switched him to Neocate infant, an elemental formula.
Did you notice any health changes within yourself on the new diet?
I actually found that I was healthier for the most part on my daughter’s diet but when I cut foods for my son, I lost all of my pregnancy weight in a matter of a few weeks and felt really ill. I think after nursing my daughter for 21 months on a very limited diet my body was having a hard time going down to even less foods. Emotionally it was very hard on me as well.
What was (or is) the hardest thing about having food sensitivities in your family and how are you managing that challenge?
The lack of understanding that some people, strangers and family alike have about the situation is probably the hardest thing. As a family we do our best to make our house and meals safe for everyone. Sometimes that means eating in shifts but mostly trying to be very creative with the few ingredients that are safe for everyone.
Food sensitivities or allergies can be stressful or even scary for a family. How have you chosen to move forward in faith, not fear?
This is a hard one, but I have found that if you live in fear it starts to paralyze you. It is certainly is much harder right after a reaction happens. I try to be gentle with myself during those times.
When not dealing directly with the trauma of a reaction, I try to look for the good in this journey. Helping to support others who are newly on this journey, spread awareness about allergies and rare diseases, look at how healthy we are eating (we have to raise all of our own meat and try to buy only local and organic produce when we can).
I also know that my children have taught me so much about empathy and compassion and I feel like that is a great gift from God.
What’s the most helpful thing people could do to help you during that season of breastfeeding a food sensitive baby?
Ask “How can I help?” and mean it! Can you go to the grocery store and pick up some single ingredient foods? Come and do the dishes or laundry? Or just ask “how are you doing?” But really mean it and be there to listen.
A friend told me during one of my darker days, “Support is best, fed is necessary”, so no matter how you feed your child- by breast, bottle, or tube, you are doing the very best that you can and when you have support it makes a hard journey a little easier.
What advice would you give a mom who’s struggling now with a food sensitive baby?
Go with your gut, know that you are NOT alone, know that what you are seeing and feeling is really there and you are not crazy, and reach out to those who have gone on this journey – there are so many people who would love to help and at the very least lend a supportive ear!
What’s one of your favorite food sensitive recipes?
A staple in our house is ground meat, cabbage, and potatoes. We use grass fed ground beef, brown the meat, and then add in diced potatoes, sea salt and chopped cabbage. Add in about 1/2 c to 1 cup of water and cover and cook on medium until potatoes are tender. If you have other veggies as safe things such as sweet peppers, peas, carrots, squash are all yummy in this too. It is a nice one pan filling meal.
More from Radiant Life Consulting…
Wondering if your own baby has a food sensitivity?
- 5 Signs of a Sensitivity,
- 5 Action Steps
- Symptom quiz
- Food & Symptom Journal