Elimination Diet: SweetPea Protests Something in My Breastmilk
I’m not a diet person. I have poor self-control when it comes to food, especially when my mom’s chocolate chip cookies or caramels are around. But I’ve never been so motivated in my life (not even during Lent, sorry, Jesus, as we Catholics give up sweets usually) than I am now.
It’s every mama’s nightmare. My baby’s beautiful skin has turned into a scaley, puss-laced, acne-ridden, and bright red mess. At first I thought SweetPea was simply having normal baby acne. But after a few days, I realized this had to be worse. Her skin looked abraised, and her acne opened into yellow crusty scabs. What on earth was going on here? This photo barely shows her poor little cheeks, but you can kinda see it. It started on her face and moved to her neck, chest, and back. She’s so sad looking!
Fortunately, our doctor is a family practice doc who practices in an integrative medical model. She took a look and suggested we initially tackle it as a food allergy as that is what it looked like to her. Her suggested elimination diet was something I was totally unfamiliar with, but now know all too well. She told me I could do it a little at a time, like just dairy and gluten, or tackle all seven food products at once. I definitely opted for the most extreme version of the diet, basically because I want to just get. it. DONE.
1) It’s been a week since I’ve had any of the Big Seven allergens:
6) Certain fish family members
Let’s just say I’m eating lots of rice products, fruits, and veggies. Yes, I did have grilled chicken breast & french fries the other night but usually it’s just lots of gluten-free granola and rice milk, and the healthy salad. The diet is less than appealing and I’m not magically discovering all these foods I can eat. Instead I’m counting the days until my 4 weeks is up. I do already see a difference in her face, considerably. Maybe this diet will work!
Doctor Sears suggests a Total Elimination Diet (affectionately known as TED) listed here. I don’t think I need to be that extreme about it. Hopefully it all clears up after my fasting period and then we can safely start from scratch. If it’s resilient, maybe I will have to be more careful.
It made the most sense to me (and my MD dad) to cut out everything at once, so that when she improves (as she is, thankfully), we can add back in one factor at at time and evaluate how that factor effects her, without worrying that it’s some other food group I hadn’t eliminated. Tabula rasa, if you will.
2) So what can I eat??
So for 4 weeks I eat a limited diet, and then I reintroduce them back in, one at a time, least likely to most likely. Kellymom and La Leche League have been very informative, as have my friends on Facebook (you know who you are . . . thank you!!). It sounds like the most common allergy is to dairy. I’m one to eat cheese, butter, ice cream, and yogurt every. single. day. Yup! Every day. And did I mention I have an acute aversion to coconut, which seems to be prevalent as a replacement/substitute?
I have found some dry goods to eat (beans! rice crackers! more beans!) and naturally, lots of fruit and veggies constantly. I’m eating chicken more often (can’t do tofu–soy), and salmon! Also just really being healthy with my veggie intake for probably the first time in my life. Maybe this will be a blessing as it will break my habit of cheese, ice cream, and chocolate–and too much of each.
A few recipe resources that have been great:
food allergies + a toddler: my girlfriend’s blog. Her son has multiple allergies & SuperBoy has allergies to peanut and egg.
smitten kitchen: my eldest sister advised me on her yellow dal (indian fare) recipe. Num!
the glutenfree vegan: my sister also steered me toward this one.
I’m looking for a good bean recipe website–help?
Any other allergic mamas out there, I appreciate your guidance!