Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Food We Eat!

With all the busyness we find ourselves bogged down in as homeschooling moms, it's so easy to just go with the flow of the world around us and eat anything that we can get from the fridge to the mouth in 10 minutes or less. But is this really the way God wants us to treat our body? With little or no thought of how the food we eat affects our body and therefore our spirits as well?

I don't know where you fall on this topic, but about 2 years ago the Lord started me on a journey to healthier treatment of my body. He led me through a weightloss program (Prism Weightloss Program - so awesome with an accountability group) in which I lost 25 lbs (ok, ok it was 24 lbs - but doesn't 25 make a nicer number?) and learned how to eat a balanced diet of whole foods (no sugar, no white flour, very few processed foods and hydrogenated oils). After that I found a nutritionist to help me use a few supplements (cod liver oil, probiotics, etc.) as I prepared my body vitamin/mineral stores for a 4th pregnancy.

I hadn't felt so great in a long time! The 1st trimester of the 4th pregnancy was the best of the 4, with no morning sickness. I had felt terrible with the others. By this point I knew for sure that good nutrition really does make a difference!

So this is when I realized that my 2 kids' ezcema was probably due to food allergies (or sensitivities really - these are different than immediate response food allergies like you see with peanuts). Adam's legs were scratched raw and Reagan also scratched scabs all over. It just broke my heart to see them so uncomfortable! Not to mention the irritability that seems to prevail in each of them. From the time he was 11 months old, Adam started getting every virus that came around and was seemingly unable to fight them off in a normal amount of time. With my awesome family doc's advise, I just recently had their blood tested for IgG and IgA antibodies (ELISA test through Immuno Labs, FL) so that we could eliminate the underlying cause of the skin problems rather than destroying the skin's defense ability by over-using hyrdocortisones and other steroids. I had seen through years of steroid use on my own psoriasis, no healing from it. Yet after 4 weeks on a wheat-free diet, I observed marked improvement. I highly recommend this lab since they offer online support (questions, meal planning, recipes) and a guarantee that you will see improved health if you follow their plan (3 parts as I talk about below). I have read that ELISA testing is more accurate than other types of allergy testing also. Does anyone have more info on this?

So here we are at the beginning of this attempt to heal my kids' skin (and possibly other issues)by changing their diet. Am I totally sure that it will work? No. But will it hurt them to take away foods that their bodies consider toxic? I don't think so.

What a task this process has been! Just ask anyone I know and they will tell you that they have heard enough from me already about this issue!

First we have to eliminate ALL foods which elicited an antibody response in the kids' blood.
For Adam, we are eliminating:
  • cow dairy & cheese
  • goat milk
  • egg
  • coconut
  • wheat
  • almond
  • oat
  • rice
  • soybean
  • safflower
For Reagan, we are eliminating:

  • cow dairy & cheese
  • egg
  • coconut
  • wheat
  • oat
  • kidney bean
  • cantaloupe
  • pea
  • peanut
  • snapper
  • walnut
  • brewer's yeast
  • baker's yeast
Secondly, we have to rotate the foods (only foods for which they tested no antibody response!) that they are allowed to eat every four days. This is where Excel became my best buddy! I mean, my brain was swimming when I realized how much planning this process to healing the g.i. would be! So here is what we've come up with!

Reagan cannot have the foods in purple while Adam cannot have the foods in yellow!
Do you see how insane this is? Most gluten-free baking uses a combo of various flours in order to get a nice texture. I only have the option of one, possibly two flours to use as well as having to skip the eggs. Oy! So far, I just have play with the recipes to figure out how to get the best flavor and texture. And if you know me, you know that's just plain silly! I'm the type a baker (not 'cook' - that I can almost do) who needs the recipe to tell me exactly when to stir and for how long! Add to this the fact that I can't afford to feed everyone in the family this way and so I am cooking, baking, vacuum sealing and freezing indiviual servings. ("How do you have time to blog?" you ask. Well, there's always time for that! I just have to break my 4th new year's resolution to do it! Lol!)

So far the foods that are allowed are quite limited and neither child likes them very much (a lot of fish). Adam is also not responding very well to any fruits - very loose daipers the next day if he eats more than 1/4 C. So we're really down to meats and veggies with a few grains for him. Reagan has a few more options but is more finicky than he. Again I say, oy!

Thankfully, the final part of this process is reintroducing some of the less reactive foods (after 90 days) at a very slow rate. So by adding options later, we will be able to make daily food prep at least a little easier. I've also heard that they might grow out of many of these sensitivities, so we intend to re-test them in a year or two.

I know that this seems difficult to me now, but I can see from the where I've come, that God has put me on this path with His provision. He has guided me each step of the way so that when it came time to get so detailed in the kids' diets, He knew I could handle it. I am also thankful for all the encouragement and information that I can find in the bloggy world of SAH and homeschooling moms! For anyone that drops by and is struggling with similar issues, please feel free to leave a comment - your support, ideas, recipes are welcome!

Stay tuned for more on this topic. I have met enough bloggers with allergy or health issues that I would like to post info and gather comments. See you there!


Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

Yikes! Andrea, I'm exhausted just reading about this! I can see by the hours of work you've put in how much you love your children. It will be tough to implement all this while homeschooling and "growing" a baby! But your children will be blessed by your sacrifice and I'm sure your efforts will be rewarded - I have more than one friend with similar cases, but I'll tell you of one...I have a dear friend whose son developed extreme eczema and other health issues as an infant and eventually ended up where you are. I am happy to report that changing his diet was the single biggest tool in his recovery and he is a very healthy 4th grader! He also has outgrown the sensitivity to some of the foods - can tolerate cheese, eggs, and wheat in small amounts - can eat a piece of pizza w/ his friends! I pray it will be the same for you!
(PS - thanks for the tag - I'm hoping to get to it sometime, but we'll see - trying to get a "weekly report" post done now, but can't seem to find the time.)

Mary@notbefore7 said...

OH my goodness. Wow. I admire your persistence. We have been on this path for a few months now with our T. She has such skin itching issues as well - scratching her entire body some nights.

The allergy testing showed : dog, cat, pollen and mold. I suspect kiwi as well and that will get tested next visit.

I will look into the lab and tests you suggested here. I want to gather some information as we are going to a specialist later this month - an integrative pediatrician - think holistic. Our first meeting is just myhubby and I with her for 2 hours, so I hope to get lots of information.

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

Hi! =) I noticed I'm in your blogroll... I love your blog, and have returned the favor!

Monica said...

This is quite an undertaking! I admire all that you do to love these kids in ways they probably will never realize.

I,too, have several children with eczema and have done all the "topical" changes, but have not ventured into the diet area so much.

I'll be reading with interest.

Becky @ Boys Rule My Life said...

Holy smokes, girl! I thought I had it bad with just the milk allergy in the baby! Wow! I can see why Excel is your new best friend... again... holy smokes!

The eczema in my boys is very minimal. I believe the middle son is growing out of it. As long as we kept his skin hydrated the eczema stayed away. The baby's eczema flares if I eat something with dairy in it (I'm nursing).

I'd offer some of my dairy free recipes from my recipe blog, but I think they probably have some of the other things you have to stay away from... I can't imagine having to avoid so much and keep so much straight! I admire you for working through this.

I've also got a few dairy free bloggers on my blog roll. Some are also gluten and soy free. Maybe they could help, too?

Let me know if I can do anything for you! I know in the beginning it is a HUGE undertaking! Best of luck!