Tag Archives: allergies

Thinking about food allergies

I have been thinking a lot more about my kids, my family and food allergies lately.

My thoughts feel sort of jumbled and there is so much information to wade through.

I guess the beginning of this was a few months ago when I was just tired and dealing with morning sickness, not that bad mind you, but bad enough that I didn’t want to do anything.

And that despite how careful we are with our kids and their diets, they still have eczema and runny #2 diapers and poor growth on the growth charts sometimes. So not a giant difference in their supposed allergy “symptoms”.

And I have talked to other moms and read them too (Emery and Olive Oil come specifically to mind) about how they tried to make the same changes that we had, didn’t notice much in the way of symptom changes, did notice it was a lot of work and did notice that it was really hard to get their kids to eat that way.

I’ll admit that part of me got a little high and mighty. Part of me said, “Well, I am doing it and there is SOME difference and HOW can you just DO that to your child knowing what you know?” And part of me felt their pain and burden and frustration. Part of me understood the high rate of false positives in these allergy tests. Part of me saw the conflicting advice out there. Part of me heard about continual exposure eventually helping people to overcome their allergies instead of complete avoidance.

So anyway, back on track with the story. A couple months ago when I was tired and not feeling like it, I let my kids have regular old oatmeal at a bagelry. And a few other times I let them have blueberry muffins because Bean saw the muffins in the display case and really wanted one.

And nothing happened. The oatmeal was probably mostly fine. Oats can become contaminated by wheat fields and mills so that is why you have to buy the special gluten-free kind. But they are probably mostly fine, most of the time. The muffins were likely a triple threat cocktail for Bean. I am sure they had butter (dairy), wheat and eggs.

And like I said, nothing happened. I noticed no difference in skin or output. There was no throwing up, no diarrhea no rash. Just nothing.

But then I felt terrible.

Plus, Sprout’s last few appointments the doctor has been increasingly alarmist with regards to his status on the growth charts. Did those muffins and oatmeal lazy moments cause it? Was I really a terrible mother?

So then I read more stuff about allergy testing and how some fringe doctors believe the most standard blood test that Bean had is not enough and how there are other bodily reactors we can test against that can show a wider spectrum of food sensitivity and intolerance. But then how other doctors think these tests aren’t accurate either and have way too many false positives.

Then there are others who say that the best way to figure out food sensitivities is thru elimination diets or by introducing them back one at a time. Still others say this too is inaccurate because a lot of times food sensitivities and allergies don’t have super noticeable side effects like rashes, skin disorders, or gastrointestinal function problems and yet there are still insidious things going on in the body because of these foods.

And basically the medical community, as usual, can’t get their act together and agree on anything and just make things a little easier for us parents.

Fast forward to last week and I fed my kids and I a plate of vegetarian nachos from Baja Fresh because I just didn’t feel like having a bunch of leftovers from all of us to cart around and I also can’t bring myself to throw away that much food. Plus, I knew that Bean was coming up on the magic age when children for some reason outgrow their food allergies and that as an introduction to dairy, cheese was probably one of the safe bets because it is easier to digest than whole milk.

And again, nothing happened.

And again I felt huge amounts of guilt and questioning of myself.

Because really is this just me being selfish? I don’t have to tell those of you that have to deal with even one food allergy how much easier my life would be if I didn’t have to deal with food allergies. Even just eliminating one of Bean’s would be so incredibly helpful to me and a bit easier for me.

And for those of you that don’t know this life, imagine all of the typical toddler foods being eliminated. Imagine every time you eat out as a family being a big worry fest as to whether your kids will be inadvertently exposed to a poison. Imagine dinners and potlucks with friends often being incredibly awkward because you can’t find anything your child can eat. Or imagine telling that child that no, they really can’t enjoy all the other yummy foods that their friends are enjoying. Other kids’ birthday parties with no cake or treats for your kids. Having to make everything on your own from scratch all the time because usually even if you can find something that doesn’t have one of their allergens, it has one or two of the others. Having to pay so much money for alternative foods and supplements. The list could go on and on.

And then I start reading this book on the 4-A epidemic in children: autism, ADHD, asthma, and allergies. And once again I am freaking out and thinking that maybe there is more that my kids are up against. And I need thousands of dollars in testing to be sure. And how maybe that explains how small my kids are or any other host of little things I can pick up on in my kids.

So then the kids have a check up today and I talk to my doctor about some of it. The good news is that Sprout is growing again and Bean is doing pretty good too. We’ve avoided a trip to UCLA with “ten thousand dollars worth of testing all day long” (as he put it), for now.

He says he doesn’t put much faith in the allergy tests. Too many false positives and negatives. He did say that Bean’s original tests back when she was a year old showed only a mild allergy to wheat and dairy and a moderate allergy to egg. He said that low on the spectrum he usually sees kids grow out of and that she may have grown out of them by now. Plus, he said over half the things she was tested for were a complete waste since she hadn’t even been introduced to them and they would have had a false negative. Since he doesn’t really put much into the allergy testing he thinks we should just start trying to reintroduce stuff.

So I don’t know. I still feel confused. Like what if I reintroduce this stuff and maybe there isn’t noticeable eczema or yucky poops. Does that really mean everything is OK? Am I just being paranoid? A hypochondriac? But oh gosh would life be easier and less expensive if we could eliminate some of these things!

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Filed under Family, Natural Living, Parenting

Bean’s First Sandwich

Because of her food allergies, Bean has yet to experience a sandwich. I had made one batch of gluten-free bread from a mix before this, but it was much to dense, dry and crumbly to be any good for sandwiches.

Then I tried out a recipe from scratch and this bread is awesome. We all keep eating it and it is supposed to just be for Bean.

So today she had her first sandwich and being the slightly photo-obsessed mom that I am there is tons of pictoral proof.


Isn’t that the cutest little sandwich you’ve ever seen? Of course it didn’t stay that way for very long.


Yeah, she pretty much had it all taken apart in a matter of seconds.


Yummy nitrate/nitrite-free turkey lunch meat from Trader Joe’s


Mmmm…


Pudgy little hands holding homemade bread. Does it get any better than this?


She loves that bread!


Especially with mustard and vegan mayonaise spread on it!

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Filed under Family, Gourmet Lisa, Homemade

What I’ve been up to…

My sweet sister and her baby came to visit…


Photo by the always amazing John Stephens.

So a weekend with a bit of everything ensued: being lazy around the house, Vernal Equinox treat receiving, checking out cool shops on Main Street in old San Buena Ventura (and feeling very old pulling up in front of Urban Outfitters with my minivan and babies), soup eating and cousin fix getting (Bean’s new favorite word is her older cousin’s name and she was saying it and singing it over and over ALLLLL day long on Saturday), church, our favorite farmer’s market, and a photo shoot with John.

Bean loved on her cousin and her brother…

…while my sweet sister watched all the kids so this mama could go to Whole Foods all by herself and get some supplies for making Bean some yummy food that she isn’t allergic to.

I have been wanting to do this stuff for so long, but I haven’t had the time or energy until now.

So in the last couple days I have been gluten/dairy/egg-free bread making (this is our second loaf, it is so good)…

…and vegan gluten-free blueberry muffin making…

…and dairy-free yogurt making (still in progress).

I’ve also joined a book club, done lots of laundry and just plain enjoyed my kids. OK, back to my life now. See you later Internet. 🙂

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Filed under Family, Gourmet Lisa

The allergy journey begins.

Friday morning I got a message from our pediatrician that she had received Bean’s food allergy test results from a blood test we did earlier in the week.

My suspicions were correct, Bean was allergic to eggs. On a six class scale, the pediatrician said Bean’s allergy level was a class three which is high. So that means no more flu shots and no MMR since both of those vaccinations use eggs in the manufacturing process. I’m really glad I spoke up about my suspicion at our last appointment since Bean was scheduled to receive both the booster for the flu shot and the MMR. I thought the first reaction was bad, I can only imagine what a double exposure would have done to her.

What I was not prepared for however, was hearing that Bean is also allergic to wheat and dairy.

The test specifically tested for wheat allergy and didn’t test for gluten sensitivity. So technically I could give her any number of other grains. However, there is a family history of gluten allergies/intolerance in my family so I decided I would pull her off gluten.

The dairy results showed that she was allergic to the casein protein specifically. This means she is allergic to all milk from mammals (even human).

I was completely shocked about it. I think because of the casein allergy in particular. It makes me wonder how long she’s had this allergy. How long I’ve essentially been poisoning her. And even questioning the merits of breastfeeding.

She showed no signs of the other allergies. Wheat and dairy made up some of her favorite foods.

I’m also still worried about her diet in general and her weight gain. Dairy products probably made up a majority of her fat and protein intake. For milk I am doing a blend of soy, hemp, rice and coconut. Bean hasn’t seemed to notice.

I found an egg replacer for baking. She wasn’t really getting much egg anyway since I began to suspect the allergy.

There are also tons of gluten free products, especially since so many people seem to be going gluten-free these days.

So now, just like with my three year nut allergy I’m back to closely scanning ingredient labels. It definitely makes life more complicated and expensive.

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Filed under Family, Natural Living, Parenting, Ramblings

Back… for realz.

OK so we finally, finally have the real live, fast Internet set up in our apartment and it is awesome. No more driving to Whole Foods, Panera or Ruth’s house. No more mooching off some neighbor’s wireless network that is really slow and patchy. The Internet is ours!

Last night as I was laying in bed and trying to fall asleep knowing that the Internet would be back this morning I kept thinking of this huge list of things I wanted to write about and do. I’m not sure if this post will live up to everything I dreamed up, but here goes anyway.

Bean is six months old today!

She is so, so close to crawling. Mostly she just rolls around, does the fish out of water swimmer/army man scoot, and bounces on her bottom while sitting to get where she wants to go. She is pushing up and pulling up and man she wants to go, go, go. Sometimes she gets really, really frustrated that she can’t quite figure it out which leads to a meltdown and is not fun for Mama. But mostly she is her smiley cute little self.

You may have noticed that I dropped off on the measurement pictures. I sort of forgot to do the five month one and I’m probably not going to get around to doing the one for this month. Bean had a well baby check the Friday before we moved though and these were her stats: 16lbs 10oz, 25 inches long, and I can’t remember her head circ.

Not allergic!
At that appointment I found out that miraculously I am no longer allergic to nuts. My doctor said that a combination of avoidance and pregnancy are probably the culprit for my recovery. I am so, so happy to not be allergic anymore. Last night I enjoyed ice cream with a heath bar in it and some of Stephen’s with Reese’s. I also had a cookie yesterday that had some kind of nut in it. In both instances I had absolutely no allergic reaction and I definitely didn’t die. 🙂

Where my day goes
In an effort to be able to account for my time a little better so that I don’t always have to say at the end of they day, “I did nothing today.” I am starting to keep a log of what goes on.

I am also doing this so that I can kind of figure out what Bean’s schedule is during the day. I know she has one, just wanting to know what it is so I can plan my day out a little better.

So are you curious as to where my day goes? Well I hope you are because this is it:

Monday, March 23
5:20am – Bean up, fed and diapered then put back to sleep.
8am – Both of us up. Went downstairs, did dishes. Ate blueberry muffin. Tried to give Bean some solids, but she wasn’t in the mood and was just making a mess so I put it away.
8:45am – diaper change, clean up, got Bean dressed
8:50-9:15am – fed Bean. Tried to put her down for a nap, but she cried and woke back up as soon as I set her in the crib.
9:15-9:45am – checked e-mail/Facebook/blog (which was really slow going and I just got frustrated) while Bean played on the floor.
9:45-10:05am – switched out laundry, folded dry stuff. Unpacked and put away two boxes of linens while Bean played in her walker.
10:05-10:20am – put away dishes and started a new load while Bean played on the floor. She was starting to get fussy so I gave her some teething tabs. I played with her a bit, but she was obviously very tired and needing a nap.
10:35-10:45am -nursed Bean until she fell asleep.
10:45am – Bean took a nap and I took a shower.
11:20am – done showering and getting dressed/put together. Started to make a sandwich, but Bean woke up. Changed her diaper. Went back to sandwich making. Phone rang and had to answer it. Finally got to eat my sandwich at around 12:15pm.
12:35am – fed Bean some carrots mixed with breastmilk and mashed up brown rice.
1pm – Bean done eating. Cleaned her up and changed her diaper.
1:20pm – put away dishes, switched out laundry and folded dry stuff.
1:30pm – sewed a few quilt squares together, but Bean was getting fussy and needing another nap.
1:50-2pm – nursed Bean until she fell asleep
2-3:15pm – Bean took a nap and I planned our menu to try and incorporate all the veggies we got from Abundant Harvest.
3:15pm – Bean up, changed her diaper. Folded laundry and started some more.
3:30-4:30pm – walked to Whole Food to get a few groceries and a snack
4:30pm – played with Bean for 15 minutes
4:45-5:05pm – Bean nursed until she fell asleep
5:05-5:50pm – made dinner, when it was done I checked on Bean and she was still asleep.
6:10pm – finished with dinner, checked on Bean and she was still asleep. Worked on my knitting project.
6:45pm – Stephen home from work. Bean up. Changed her diaper then fixed Stephen’s plate for dinner.
7-7:05pm – Bean fussy so I gave her some teething tabs and nursed her a bit. Then she played on the floor with her toys.
8:30pm – we drove to Coldstone and used our buy one get one free coupon.
9:15pm – Got home, changed Bean’s diaper and nursed her until she fell asleep at 9:53pm
9:53pm – worked on my knitting project some more. I am almost done with the first sleeve!
10:45pm – Went to bed.

Yeah. So see, I do get stuff done and that is where the day goes.

Another apartment peak

We bought this desk and filing cabinet on Saturday. The desk was delivered on Sunday. I love having a space for all of our office stuff and my computer. There is so much storage in this desk, it is great. I’m glad we didn’t go with the IKEA one because this one is much, much nicer. I also love that it all folds up and the stuff can be hidden away. I love that this piece has a classic feel to it, but also kind of modern and not too fancy looking. I love that the printer we got for Christmas is finally set up and working. Now I can print out all my recipes and menus!

Church
Sunday morning we woke up bright at early at 6:30am and drove to Carpinteria so we could attend church at Reality.

I love this church. We had been once before while we were still living in Bakersfield. It is quite a trek to get there (45 minutes each way), but with amazing ocean views, that really isn’t a burden…

I seriously could not stop looking out the window for the whole drive. There were light showers, the sun peaking through the clouds and streaming down and even a few rainbows along the way. Not to mention the gorgeous ocean crashing along the shoreline below. Plus, it is actually only about 10 minutes longer to go there than it was to go to Westbrook from our house in Bakersfield.

It only took that one visit for us to be sold. The teaching was great and the worship amazing. Not because the band was particularly talented, but because the congregation really wanted to be there and was very into it.

This is also the church where our former youth pastor is going and getting ready to be sent out to plant a church in San Francisco. So it was really cool to reconnect with him a little bit on Sunday. Plus another thing was that Stephen ran in to like 3 different people he knew from back when he lived in Santa Paula. So it feels familiar to him in a lot of ways.

Our plan is to continue attending there for now and then when they start up the new site in Ventura to switch to start getting involved there. We’re also just kind of taking a break from over-involvement at this point. It is tempting to want to throw ourselves head first into home groups, prayer for the Ventura site, playing music etc, but we know we just really need to have some time to get adjusted and get to know the place where we live. It has been sooo nice to just be able to be home and relax and not be rushing off to various activities lately.

Nighttime/Sleep Parenting
There have been many things going on in the world of sleep (or lack thereof) with us lately.

First up I’ll talk about nap time. Bean has started this new thing where when I put her down in the crib, the floor, etc. for a nap she immediately starts crying or fussing. Most of the time it lasts a couple seconds until she adjusts her comfort position, usually by rolling onto her side, and then she stops and goes on with her normal nap. Sometimes though she just completely cries herself awake and thrashes around and I pick her up and she doesn’t go back to sleep. Then she’s totally grumpy and fussy until she’s finally hungry again and I can nurse her to sleep again. I’m not quite sure how to handle this.

She also has become quite the mover during sleep. I find her in some of the strangest positions when I go to check on her or when I go to get her after she wakes up. It is hilarious. This is not the best example, but the only time I’ve taken a picture is right now:

So I put her to sleep on her back near the corner of the blanket. During the course of writing this post she has managed to move to the middle and wind up on her stomach. Which brings me to another quandry. The whole “back to sleep” campaign. She almost always turns onto her side or stomach while she is sleeping now. Am I really supposed to stir her and turn her back on her back? Really? Because nap/sleep time is going to be a whole heck of a lot more difficult if that is the case.

Finally, on the subject of sleep, Stephen and I are trying to work on “night weaning” Bean. I know this probably doesn’t sit well with the “on demand” crowd, but I really need my sleep. I just seriously can’t handle much more. I am so, so much more grumpy when I don’t get enough sleep. I have been snapping at Stephen a lot lately for completely dumb stuff. I notice that I’ve had trouble constructing sentences properly, I am way less alert especially when doing mundane things like driving (I’ve nearly run several red lights because I just was having a hard time paying attention), and I have no motivation or energy to get stuff done. I just really, really need a good night sleep to be a better person in general. So what we’ve been doing is that when Bean wakes up Stephen goes in and tries to comfort her, distract her, etc for at least a little while to stretch her a bit every night.

When we started this over the weekend she was waking up between 1 and 4am almost every night and then every 1-2 hours after that. I’m the type of person that once I’ve been awakened it is really hard for me to go back to sleep. I’m a really light sleeper. I also don’t do well with alarms or knowing that something is going to happen. So basically when she would wake up that first time I wouldn’t go back to sleep after that because I would lay in bed thinking about how she was going to be waking up again in 1-2 hours and also I would have a hard time falling back asleep because of various sounds (Stephen breathing mostly). So I was pretty much surving on on 3-5 hours of sleep every night. I also have a hard time napping or sleeping in past my internal clock wake up time of 8am unless I’m really, really exhausted (as in didn’t sleep at all the night before).

Also I should note that we know it is possible for Bean to sleep through the night. She was doing a great job of it early on, but teething and a couple of colds really messed up her sleeping/eating patterns. So she just mostly got into the habit of eating and waking up several times a night. I noticed that when I began feeding her throughout the night she would not nurse as many times during the day and she wasn’t that into it or serious about it. She was more interested in what was going on around her, constantly popping off, playing with my shirt/hair, etc.

Anyway, it seems to be working out pretty well. Yesterday she didn’t wake up until 5:20am and this morning she didn’t wake up until 5:40am. And both times she went back to sleep until when I would normally get up for the day (this morning she slept in until 9am!). I’ve also noticed that she’s quite a bit more serious about nursing during the day. It’s pretty much, “don’t bother me I’m eating”-you’d-think-she-was-starving-because-she’s-so-desperate-for-food kind of nursing, not goofing off at all. Since she knows I’m the one that nurses her and has the milk, it really works out better for Stephen to be the one to wake up and try to stretch her. If I do it she goes into a total meltdown and thrashes and screams until I give in and nurse her. I think she feels rejected if I don’t nurse her right away. I know you’re all probably thinking, “Oh no way. That cute little baby is never upset.” Let me tell you, she can get pretty pissed when she doesn’t get her way!

If you thought I was “crunchy” before
So yes, not only am I getting all of our produce through Abundant Harvest, I am also going to start a garden and I am even composting! We are really blessed in that this apartment has a pretty big backyard/patio-ish thing with plenty of room for a garden. I’m planning on starting it this weekend after a trip to the nursery.

This is my compost bin…

And this is my “transfer” bin that I keep on the kitchen counter…

Though I am going to have to come up with something else for that because this is actually my “barf bucket” from when I was pregnant and since Stephen was the one to clean it out all the time he finds its presence on our kitchen counter “disturbing”.

Menu Plan Monday
Except it is on Tuesday. So this is my planned menu that will hopefully use up all of our veggies for the next two weeks…

Last night
Chicken Tacos
Salad

Tonight
Salmon cakes with creamy ginger sesame sauce
Carrot and leek recipe from Ruth (hint hint sister, you should post that one!).

Wednesday
Chicken pot pie
Salad

Thursday
Pasta primavera using TJ’s frozen fettuccini alfredo, AH carrots and asparagus, and garlic chicken recipe
Salad

Friday
Grilled Steaks marinated in garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil
Red Chard with Carmelized Onion

Saturday
Leftover pasta from freezer
Salad

Sunday
Turkey burgers, sweet potato fries and roasted citrus drenched asparagus

Monday
Roasted Winter Vegetables with Roasted Garlic Sauce using sweet potatoes, carrot and rutabaga
Garlic Chicken

Tuesday
Some dish I am going to come up with using chicken, rice, carrots and garlic

Wednesday
Chili, corn bread and salad

Thursday
Leftover pasta from the freezer
Salad

Friday
Leftover split pea soup from the freezer
Salad

Other
Carrot Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

Anyway, that about does it for everything I think I wanted to say. Sorry if this post is a bit long and rambling and overwhelming. I just had been bottling things up for way, way too long! I’m so glad to be back!

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Filed under Faith, Family, Homemade, Menu Plan Monday, Natural Living, Parenting, Ramblings