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.

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!