Seeing the light…

Two weeks ago I took my daughter for another allergy prick test (I don’t know the official name for these). She is still allergic to eggs, as suspected. The coconuts that we had been avoiding did not come back positive.

I was surprised to see another change. The two nuts, cashews and walnuts, did not react. There was a very minor redness around peanuts and pecans. But, the doctor felt it was not enough to consider a reaction.

We were sent for blood work to confirm the prick test. We tested for eggs, a variety of nuts and seeds. I found out this week that the only allergy that she has, according to the blood work, is egg whites. The yolk test came back at a lower level.

The next step is to go for a challenge test at a hospital. The doctor has said that this test will help us to understand the severity of the allergy to egg whites. Fingers crossed that we can cross yolks off the list too!


When Being Picky is not a Preference…Part Two

As a mom, all if want is for my family to enjoy the food that I make for them. To me, it is a creation that comes from the heart.

As I finished making homemade, chocolate chip, gluten/dairy and egg free waffles this morning, I felt frustrated. My daughter would not eat them. My son loved them (as did I!) and my husband won’t touch most of the allergen-free items that I make (beyond the chocolate chip cookies and pasta).

However, due to my daughter’s allergies, I refuse to coax her to eat foods. She has a very distinct way of knowing when a food has something in it that it shouldn’t, so I let her use her instincts.

Similar to my son, she was picky when we started to introduce foods, but in a totally different way. As a toddler, she loved, fruit, chicken, salmon, meatballs, pasta. I called her my ‘healthy eater’ because she refused most carbs (e.g. some bread, crackers and baked goods like muffins, cookies, banana bread). Then she started to find some cookies that she liked, particularly Oreos, and she loved chips so I knew she wasn’t completely into healthy food!

I couldn’t figure out why some foods were such a hit (Mr. Christie’s Chewy Chips Ahoy) and some were such a miss (my homemade version). And what kid refused to eat cake of any kind?!? She would spit out any foods that she didn’t ‘like’ and ask for something else.

One evening I came home with a gluten free treat for myself, French Macaroons from a local cupcakery. She always asked for some of my treats (and loved marshmallows) so I gave her some. She started screaming. She spit it out and told me that her mouth was burning. She had some milk and seemed to calm down. It wasn’t until later that I realized her lips were slightly swollen and it occurred to me that it was an allergic reaction.

I researched French Macaroons to find out typical ingredients and there it was….egg whites. All of a sudden what I have perceived as pickiness made complete sense – she was allergic to eggs.

I had tried to feed her eggs several times, but she would spit them out or refuse them. I had chalked it up to the consistency. My son often refused foods due to the consistency. I had heard of some children with egg allergies, but the reaction had been so severe that the child went straight to the emergency. My daughter’s reaction was different and she often just wouldn’t eat the foods with eggs so it took me so long to figure it out. The French Macaroons must have tricked her senses in some way and so she ate more of them instead of spitting it out right away. Damn Macaroons! My god, she’s a genius. My 18 month old knew about her allergy way before I could ever figure it out.

I took her off of eggs right away. As I checked food labels, I came to found all of the foods she liked did not contain eggs (Goldfish Crackers, Oreo’s, Mr. Christie’s Chewy Chips Ahoy) and the foods she refused did contain eggs (my home baking, gluten free bread, cake).

We got an Epipen from our doctor and prick allergy testing eventually confirmed an allergy to eggs, cashews (which she also spit out at one point) and walnuts.

So, back to this morning’s waffles – I don’t know whether there is a true allergy issue with them or whether she was having a picky morning or just didn’t like them. But, I have to respect that for her something wasn’t right. Afterall, she is a genius. I can freeze the waffles.

When Being Picky is not a Preference…Part One

My son was notoriously picky from the time that he began eating food. Well, even before that. I had a difficult time producing breast milk and ended up having to feed him partially with breast milk and partially with formula. Of course, the moderately priced formula was not to his liking, he needed the reduced lactose formula to reduce his gas.

When we entered the food phase, he enjoyed most fruits but wouldn’t touch the meat or veggies. He liked oatmeal best. He often ate avocados mashed with bananas daily. In the toddler years, it was mostly eggs, cheese, pasta, crackers and fruit. Most meat and vegetables were still tough. I even wrote this article about picky eating for a UK website Mindful Mum:

Entering school proved to be trying as there were so many foods that he did not want packed on his lunch. Dinnertime remained a battle. I have had so many nights where he has refused his dinner. It is hard not to be frustrated as a working mom when you get home from work, cook dinner and then it is refused.

Eventually, I took my son for food sensitivity testing as a result of a number of issues that I felt could be food related – attention, skin conditions, digestive issues etc. I had recently adjusted his diet to match mine of gluten and dairy free in order to see if that made a difference. It helped, but I felt I was missing something and I was worried that I was potentially pushing foods with him that weren’t in the right direction.

I was also sick of the battles and felt this might provide the hard proof that I needed to soldier on with the diet adjustments. Having a child that is gluten and dairy free means a lot of extra food planning and prep to be successful.

What came back from the blood work was shocking to me. There were over 30 foods that he was highly sensitive to and another 20 that were moderate. Gluten, dairy, rice, oatmeal, almonds, raspberries, oranges, eggs….the list trolled on.

‘How am I going to feed this child?’, I thought. My Naturopath agreed that the list was a little overwhelming and not typical.

Fast forward four months and I believe the list is a blessing of sorts. Now that I know what specific foods to stay away from, I am able to meet the needs of his body. I find that he refuses less foods and has even started eating some healthy foods that he wouldn’t touch before (he eats salmon now!). I bake a lot and am able to provide treats that fit his needs. Though he fights me sometimes, overall I think he understands, feels better and is happier.

Allergies don’t take a vacation

As a mom, it can be taking a young child on vacation when they have a food allergy. Fine, we can take our Epipen with us, but it is something that I hope to never use.

We recently went on vacation and had some hits and misses:

  • Menchie’s serves sorbet that is gluten, dairy and egg free. My kids enjoyed the watermelon. Peanuts are mentioned as an allergen – but my daughter is not allergic to those.
  • Rocky Mountain Chocolate Shop was a pure miss for our family. I think my daughter could have eaten the candy apple but the potential for cross-contamination with nuts was high for all of the products. The fudge contained eggs. The chocolate contained milk. There were definitely coconut and nut products galore in the shop, so it was completely out.
  • The ice cream shop at our resort did not offer any alternative ice creams (e.g. soy milk based) or a dairy-free sorbet. Definitely a miss!
  • We were able to find  burgers/buns (gluten free and dairy free, I did not ask about eggs as my daughter wasn’t interested) and pizza (gluten, dairy and egg free).
  • I carried Wow Butter, homemade banana bread (free of all allergens) and allergy-free breakfast bars for quick meals and snacks in a pinch in my bag. This paid off on more than one occasion.
  • I was concerned at Sunset Grill about cross-contamination with eggs and any food that we ordered. My daughter ate a Nutragrain Bar (from my purse) and had a fruit bowl to avoid the issue all-together.
  • I packed gummies that did not contain coconut oil as a ‘just in case’ treat for the hotel room.

It did take planning, but it was fun to get away!

Allergy-Friendly, Kid-Friendly Recipes

This may seem like an oxymoron and quite frankly at times it is. When I combine the food allergies and sensitivities in our family, most foods need to be gluten free, egg free, dairy free, nut free and coconut free. My son is also sensitive to potatoes and rice, which he can tolerate periodically.

At times, it doesn’t feel hard to meet this. Vegetables, fruits, most meats are fine for our family. But venturing into the grain/carb department or treats means treading on thin ice.

Here are a few of the best recipes that I couldn’t function as a mom without:

These recipes all go great on lunches and are kid-tested!

Allergy Anxiety

On the Eve of another allergy test appointment for my 3 year-old, I am filled with anxiety and questions. Last fall, she was diagnosed with the prick test of being allergic to eggs, cashews and walnuts.

Recently, she has been complaining of a ‘burning’ sensation in her mouth – the only link I can make is to coconut…so, back to the doctor for the allergy test. I want to test coconut and all nuts again. In addition, I am thinking it might be best to test for some seeds.

What foods will come up this time?

How will we manage if there are more?

Will the doctor take my concerns seriously?

Last fall, I found the doctor to be very dismissive when the test results came back. She felt my daughter might outgrow the egg allergy and stressed that things may change. It was comforting at the time, but I also felt very unprepared for what the following year would bring.

A year later and I am constantly checking labels, speaking with servers and restaurant staff. I am concerned about my daughter attending parties, the potential of pre-school, travelling away from home, leaving my daughter with a babysitter…all of these activities have brought on huge amounts of anxiety that I couldn’t predict when this all began.

I have learned a completely new way to bake without eggs in order to avoid even bringing eggs into the house. I am suspicious of bulk foods in general. The recent issue with coconut (including coconut oil) has made even gummy candies an issue (as coconut oil is often a coating on the candy).

Would a food allergy to coconut oil mean that she couldn’t have coconut oils in skin care products?

I hope to find some answers tomorrow and am wondering if there are other parents out there just like me that are filled with worry. But alas, we will surge forward, as I always feel that more information is better!

More appointments, more stress, not a lot more answers…

As we continue to investigate a health issue with my son, we visited another doctor at a Children’s Hospital today. He was helpful, listened well and provided some advice, but overall, I don’t think that we’ve gained much more ground than another referral. A referral is better than being told to go away, but it involves more watching and waiting.

Part of the challenge is the food sensitivity issue. There definitely doesn’t seem to be a lot of support with this from conventional doctors and honestly, as a parent, it can be really difficult to decipher all of the information. I know I have seen improvement for myself personally, but there has not been a lot of improvement yet with my son. I can’t decide whether to give it time, or ease up a little on the restrictions.

We have also had him taking some dietary supplements, such as magnesium, probiotics, omega vitamins and B vitamins, again, there was not a lot of support for this route.

I just hate feeling powerless and at least if I am trying to help him with alternative remedies, it seems like I am doing something positive.

What’s wrong with me?! What’s wrong with you?!

I always knew on some level that something was wrong with me. Character, sure, but that’s for another post.

No, something physical. I had weight issues starting from a young age, hitting 200 lbs by the eighth grade and eventually maxing out at 230 lbs by tenth.

It didn’t seem to matter what I ate or how much. I tried Weight Watchers to reduce portion sizes and vegetarianism to reduce the shear number of foods available to me but I just kept getting heavier.

Eventually, through  exercise and portion control I was able to sustain a weight around 160 lbs. But this was still too heavy for my 5 foot frame to be healthy.

I would learn of my food sensitivities in my mid twenties after issues with stress and a bought of shingles. But I couldn’t seem to stick to the dietary changes in the long term.

Finally, I had had enough! Tired of felling lethargic, foggy and achy all of the time and sick of dealing with psoriasis and stomach troubles, I freed myself.

In my mid-thirties, I committed to being gluten and dairy free for life. My energy sky rocketed! I started working out religiously and eating for wellness.

I knew my family still loved their old foods and I didn’t want them all to suffer through my new diet, so I would cook separate meals to keep everyone happy (or at least only mildly complaining).

Then my daughter was diagnosed with food allergies (eggs, walnuts, cashews) in the summer of 2015 and my son with food sensitivities (gluten, dairy) in the winter of 2016.

Everything changed. It turned out for they were suffering from our old cooking habits. The foods that we gave the kids as treats were actually hurting them.

So, here we are on a journey to eat for health and wellness for the whole family.





The beginning…

I really never thought I would end up here. A blog about allergies?!

Fine, as a child I had some seasonal allergies and they weren’t fun, but they’ve gotten better as I got older. I remember having a friend with a peanut allergy, I felt bad for her – no peanut butter?!

Enter food sensitivities, IBS and autoimmune issues and well, my darling children with all of the above plus allergies to eggs and nuts and here I am…constantly collecting ideas, resources and recipes to fit the bill.

I figure there must be others out there struggling to get it right as I am. If you are trying to feed a family that is not only picky, but has food issues, then you are in the right place.