Posted by: zenmamajo | January 29, 2011

Foods that Kill – My Daughter’s Kryptonite (Living with Food & Environmental Allergies Series)


this is the first of an ongoing series titled “Living with Food & Environmental Allergies”. our oldest daughter (5) has multiple food and environmental allergies. her Krptonites include: wheat, dairy, eggs (both whites & yolk), several tree nuts (we assume all for now), peanuts (which is actually a legume), several types of trees, grass, dogs, and cats. her symptoms range in severity and include: (sudden) coughing, wheezing, swelling, eczema, hives, and can lead to anaphylactic shock.

isn’t it such a blessing to dine-out or to receive meals from other families? or when you’ve forgotten to bring snacks for your child but a friend shares some of their child’s snack? and isn’t it adorable to see your child laugh with glee as a puppy licks her face? or amusing to see them roll around in the newly erupted spring flowers?

these are just some of the things our family has been able to enjoy over the years but with much, much caution.

we first discovered her allergies when she was two months old and still nursing. we noticed she was pretty mellow except for certain times. i’ve always considered myself an amateur sleuth so i decided to see if i could pinpoint the cause (i refused to label her as ‘colicky’ because i believe there is often a reason for babies that cry uncontrollably – another blog – another day). after some experimenting – i observed she only cried uncontrollably after i consumed dairy products (specifically milk and ice cream. she would cry if i consumed sour cream or cheese products but not as bad). i eliminated dairy from my diet which decreased her fussiness significantly.

however, we discovered she had eczema at three months of age. she’d always had a red patch on the nap of her neck from about 1 month old. we were told it was a benign ‘stork bite’ – that some children develop them. well – around three months is when she had the strength to scratch that area if she was laying on her belly and she scratched every chance she could.

we also noticed eczema on the inside of her elbows, the tips of her ears, cheeks, wrists, ankles, and behind her knees. as she grew and continued nursing, the eczema worsened. some nights she would just scratch and scratch the problem areas and itch all over her body (i would sometimes find blood on her sheets in the morning from scratching so i sewed socks on to her pajamas). i strongly suspected my diet was the culprit but her physician at the time as adamant that there isn’t a connection among a mother’s diet, breast milk and allergies.

since i believed otherwise because of the dairy finding, we switched peds and i started experimenting with my diet to see if i could help relieve her eczema. after some trial and error, i discovered that when i consumed wheat, it exacerbated her eczema. when i ate less, they improved (but never completely disappeared). so i also eliminated wheat from my diet.

as the months passed i started finding she was allergic to other things. when she was eight or ten months old, she would sometimes develop hives when my husband kissed her. that was alarming to me so i started asking him what he’d eaten during the day. that’s when we learned that she had a contact allergy to dairy as well as a peanut allergy. if he consumed these items during the day, did not wash his face and kissed her, it would irritate the skin with the allergen, resulting in hives. fortunately the hives always resolved themselves within a couple hours without treatment.

as the first couple years passed, i discovered the extent of her allergies – certain dogs licking her face, the birth of spring, cats, and many more triggers caused her body to go in to ‘protection mode’ resulting in various allergic symptoms.

where she goes – her benadryl epi pens (plural – always two) go. by the grace of God, His protection and blessing us with the wisdom to spot these triggers, we have never had to use the epi pens (benadryl yes). parenting a child with allergies has been an incredibly eye-opening and stressful journey.

over time i will post how we’ve managed her allergies (while nursing and after introducing foods), handle dining out and getting together with other families (always a tough one for me – getting better as she gets older), medications she’s used/uses, recipes, and how to save money while cooking allergy free meals. feel free to request information on a related topic and i will try to write a post about that first.

until then – you can learn more about foods allergies on the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).

if you know someone with a child with allergies – consider blessing them by offering to cook a meal that is safe for the entire family to consume. because chances are the main cook of the family rarely gets a day off from having to prepare allergy free foods.

while my daughter has many Krptonites, we are still able to fully enjoy foods and life. we hope some of our findings will help you and your family over the years.

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