Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Food We Eat - Attempting to Alleviate Allergies

My head is whirling with information about and planning for alleviating the food allergies that we have in this house!  I don't know why I get so easily overwhelmed but I need to just get with it and get to it in planning our next step in our life with food allergies. 

We learned a lot since our last rotation diet (started back in Feb of 2008, I think).   It was a very stressful diet since it was very complicated. I ended up cooking different foods for practically each person in the house and our food choices were quite limited.  My stress ended up pushing me to junkfood & an outbreak of guttate psoriasis and instead of properly (one at a time and in small amounts) reintroducing foods, I just kind of gave up after 5 months.

However, we did experience many benefits from our first attempt to deal with food sensitivities.  We saw eczema clear up in Adam & Reagan, sleep improve, and dramatic improvement in behavior.  It was enough to prove to me that what I feed my kids is very important!  And although I haven't stayed away from ALL the items which they tested senstive to in the ELISA blood test (quite a list!), we've tried since then to be careful about wheat, cow dairy, eggs, soy, and peanuts.  After so many weeks strictly following that diet, we hoped that what was a 'light' sensitivity' to certain foods would just be ok to relax on, such as rice, coconut (a MAJOR fat staple around here), almond, oat, and yeast.  I didn't, after all, really even know how accurate the blood test is or if it just shows foods that you tend to eat all the time.  And we never had a skin scratch test done or did an elimination diet to investigate further after this rotation diet.

So this last year and a half we have lived with good whole foods and loosely avoided wheat, dairy, eggs, and soy.  I let church snacks & preschool snacks slip and we went to out to eat or to gramndma's on occasion.  I've used yogurt and cheese as snacks when I'm desperate for something high in fat and use butter all the time in order to get the veggies into them.  We let them eat a bunch of no-no's over Thanksgiving and then through to Christmas, from which we are clearly seeing consequences in the form of new ezcema and crankiness.  And Adam also seems to still continually get every virus that comes around - when I thought for sure that he would have a stronger immune system by now.

Which is where we are now as I plan to head us into a new diet in hopes of truly healing everyone's gut (I forgot to mention that I got myself blood tested and showed up allergic to DAIRY and eggs - NOT wheat as I had so thought for sure was my problem!).  'Loosely' avoiding certain foods is not yet enough for Reagan and Adam since I don't think that we've ever truly managed to heal their digestive system.

Our diet will follow "The Gut & Pscyhology Syndrome" book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.  It is very similar to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet except that all dairy is excluded until the person can handle yoghurt & creme-fraise (a home made soured cream).

The basic start (ghee & homemade yoghurt are first dairy to be brought back while other foods are brought back in one at a time and in small amounts with observation for allergic responses) of this diet is as follows:
*no grains
*no starches (potatoes, corn, beans except lima & navy)
*no dairy 
*no sugar (honey is the only sweetener allowed)
*no soy
*no processed foods (hydrogenated oils, MSG, preservatives, food coloring, etc.)
*peanuts (this goes without saying as we have definitely observed a first immune response to these in Adam!)

Recommended foods:
*all meats (& organ meats) and fish
*eggs (we may be able to have the yoke - don't know yet)
*all non-starch fresh veggies (cooked at first is gentler)
*all fruit, including berries & avocado
*nuts & seeds (soaked first for 12-24 hours)
*navy, lima, string beans, lentils, split peas (no bean flours since they haven't been soaked)
*raw, unheated honey
*water w/lemon & fresh pressed juices; homemade nut milk or coconut milk; homemade meat stocks
*natural saturated meat fats; virgin cold-pressed olive oil or other cold-pressed oils; coconut oil
*homemade fermented dairy allowed later as the gut allows (yoghurt, creme-fraise)

Yes, it is quite restrictive. 
Yes, I am quite nervous about implementing it with young kids who will whine and complain and about having to deal with the difficulties of eating away from home and financing this food. 

But the point is not that this is permantly how we will eat, but that it will provide a resting, healing period for our digestive tracts in order that we may enjoy a wider range of harder to digest or previously allergic foods again in the near future!

In the meantime, as I prepare recipes and plan grocery trips and visit the allergist, I covet your prayers that this may be less stressful and even more beneficial for our family and that I would perservere in peace (not stress) to our goal.... allergy-free eating for us and our kiddos and better health all around!


Monica said...

I will be praying along with many others that this time will be one of healing and restoration. I think what has helped me(in having to be the bad guy) is realizing that this type of diet is going to allow us to live well rather than just get by and get sicker. Keep us updated on your progress along the way. Though they may not understand it now, some day your children will look back and realize what amazing love and care you have given them. Blessings to you, my friend.

argsmommy said...

Oh wow, I will definitely be praying for you guys. We eliminated gluten, casein, soy, eggs, peanuts, and artificial ingredients from our son's diet when he was little -- so I know how difficult it can be on mom to implement a restrictive diet. There are so many resources out there now though, so I'm sure you will do great!

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

wow- that's going to be tough. hats off to you for being so diligent to take care of your family! we don't have allergies, but you inspire me to be more thoughtful about feeding more whole foods and fewer "food-like substances" to my family!

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Organic and Thrifty said...

Wow, Andrea!

You have been through quit the ringer. As you know, we are also on GAPS and it has worked extremely well for us. Healing the gut is everything, and the hard work you invest now will pay off a hundred fold in the future! Isn't that book fascinating??!??

Please do keep us posted. We GAPS moms need to hang together!

In Christ,


HealBalanceLive/FrameFocusShoot said...

I am so glad you are finding success with the new diet. It is amazing how much improvement you have seen. I home school and follow the same diet you are on, it is a challenge some days and I wanted you to know you are not alone. The results are so worth the effort!