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Managing allergies, sensitivities, and preferences

I know that other mamas have mentioned to me before that I may want to tame my love for dairy when it came to my babe's current eczema.  The suggestion was reinforced by the pediatrician the other day.  So, I begrudgingly committed to cutting the cheese, even though cheese and milk has become a larger and larger part of my diet as I have started to eat less and less meat.

That evening, faced with tight schedules of piano lessons, basketball practice, and bath times, my husband suggested picking up a pizza from one of our reliable chains.  Great idea!  I like to reserve one night a week for a quick and easy pizza.

WRONG.  I took the piping hot pizza out of the oven and thought "doggonit!"  Hungry, I looked sadly at our dinner.  Too exhausted to really fix anything else, I think I had salad for dinner.  A lot of it.

I know I have it easy.  After this one month sans dairy, I will reincorporate it back into my diet (probably), slowly.  My son will nurse less and less and I will have more flexibility again to eat all the dairy I want.

I know many, many other families, however, that don't have it as easy.  I know many families who have nut allergies, gluten allergies, and a child who has chosen to eat vegan, even though his parents are omnivorous.  Their food allergies, sensitivities, and preferences are permanent, not temporary like mine.  My new experience is opening my eyes to how difficult it must be to juggle different products, to stock a variety of foods, to be vigilant when their children are at friends' houses.  How do you do it?  I know you get used to it.  Do you modify the entire family's eating to match your most sensitive eater's needs?  What sorts of food allergies, sensitivities, and preferences do you have at your house?  How do you manage it?

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No allergies, but preferences yes. One of which is that we prefer our son not drink anything other than water or watered down, no sweetner added fruit juice or milk. We occasionally give him treats like a fro yo smoothie, a root beer/ginger beer etc... We prefer that he doesn't drink things like Capri sun, Sunny Delite, Mountain Dew... It's hard to convey to other parents if they don't practice the same with their own children. I fear I'll come across judgemental or preachy or ridiculous. We try to reduce our sugar based drinks and artificial additives in general. The difficulty comes when we are at someone else's home. I don't want people to feel like they have to make a special shopping trip when my child comes over to play and I don't want him to feel bad about his snack in comparison to the other kids. Carrots and water are great unless you're 11 years old and watching your pal eat cheetos and gatorade. The best solution I've found is to provide the snack for everyone and always have a snack and drink of our own in my purse.

I just want to tell you they serve a wonderful vegan pie at Bella Facia on Alberta.

We are really struggling with this in my home. My 3 yo has severe intolerances of corn and all corn products, nightshades, citrus, dairy, nuts, berries, and a few other things. My 11 mo old also has a dairy intolerance. It took us about a month, but we slowly but surely have created a rotating menu of items that everyone can enjoy. We make a lot of our own foods like hummus and other bean spreads. Laughing Planet is a great place to eat out because they have lots of vegan options (and dinosaurs!!!!). We have also learned that we pretty much have to pack special food with us for my son wherever he goes. We tell him, "Your body doesn't like ___ right now." He seems to understand the connection between eating something he's sensative to, and feeling bad later. It's really hard to deny him some delightful things like summer berries, but he seems to take it pretty well. We found a simple dairy free cookbook and have done some recipes from it.

Sadly, though, we have yet to find a good dairy free cheese. Most of them have casein. The ones we've tried that are completely dairy free are AWFUL.

So, another way we manage is that my husband and I plan weekly Saturday night "dates" at home after the kids go to bed, and we eat things like brie and bruschetta.

I comfort myself by thinking of all the cultures where dairy is highly uncommon as a food option, and gee, those cultures have thrived all these years, so why not us?

My son cannot have dairy, reacts to high fructose corn syrup and artificial food colors, and is sensitive to gluten, eggs and citrus which means he can have those just twice per week. What has saved us is meal planning. We've been doing it since August and, although it took time to get into a good groove, it has made an incredible difference.

We shop once a week (sometimes twice for produce or meat), we cook almost everything from scratch and we spend a lot less money than we used to.

The hardest food to remove for us is dairy since there are no great alternatives for cheese that taste and act like it.

Each week gets easier. It's a learning process, for sure. Parties, eating out, social events and school are tough but, again, we've learned tricks here and there to help.

I'm happy to share more for anyone interested. We've gathered a lot of information and would love to help others with this if we can.

I cut dairy from my diet with baby #2. For a long time I missed it like crazy. But now that he is a toddler and I actually can eat some dairy here and there, I find I am not eating so much. And I am liking the substitutes and the changes I've made in our diets as a result. for example we eat way way more beans than we ever did.

Our son is allergic to eggs, so I've become much more creative in my baking and cooking. We are a family that typically cooks from scratch and uses whole foods. I am feeling pretty good actually the less dairy and animal products we use.

And, the vegan (and gluten free option) pizza at Mississippi Pizza Pub in north portland is pretty good. Not quite the real greasy thing, but pretty darn good and so nice to be able to be out at a restaurant eating pizza!

IT is so hard. Our 3 year old is dairy free gluten free and very low sugar. The hardest part was getting everyone on board and figuring it all out. Now it is pretty straight forward at home. Eating out, being social and birthday parties are a bit challenging. I always have to make and bring her cupcake, pack a ton of extra food and plan ahead with whoever's house we are going too.I hate being that person, but we dont have a choice. The hardest part is telling my daughter that she cant have this or that. But I just say that mommy cant have it either (even though i can) so that she feels like someone else is in her boat. poor little nuggets! I will say we are soooo lucky we live in portland with all of the great options. Best non dairy cheese option is daiya cheese at food fight Daiya does not contain Soy, Dairy (Casein or Lactose) Gluten, Egg, Wheat, Barley, Whey, or Nuts.

It is interesting to read the comments. Five years ago my cut dairy, wheat, soy, nuts, eggs, shellfish out of my daughters diet. At first it was overwhelming. It took about three or four months to see an improvement in her health. Since she was 5 when she was diagnosed, she could tell how much her diet helped her, and was good sticking to it. Her diet radically changed how I cooked. I made most meals so we could all eat them. Food is powerful and I felt it was important that she feel included at our family table. However, snacks, school treats, and quick bits were a challenge. I found making a bit extra and having leftovers for her when we went out to eat or she needed a quick bite was very useful. Her restrictions changed over time. We found that she could eat sheep cheese; Trader Joe's has a good selections. Five years on wheat and nuts are the only foods that cause a reaction.

The result of her allergies has not been all negative. She is very aware of how food impacts how you feel and she likes good well prepared food, and I learned new things to cook.

I FEEL your pain. My one year old has eczema, I cut wheat, dairy, eggs, gluten...all to no avail. I did not think it could be detergent related - since I use a very hippie detergent.
However I went to a link called solveeczema.org. It is all about detergent vs. soap. Since reading about it, I have switched to making my own detergent and only using Dr Bronners on my boy. It has helped a lot more than diet restrictions. Also moisturize with a thick thick ointment (like vaseline or un-petroleum or aquaphor)
within 3 minutes of bathing.

As for the egg allergy he has...its all about using flax seed as an egg replacer. Inexpensive, healthy and super easy and effective.

Hang in there mama! Trying to diagnose our babies food sensitivities is soooo frustrating!

To alleviate allergies and sensitivities I strongly recommend NAET treatment delivered by acupuncturist Erin Kenning (don't worry, she won't put needles in your baby!). She should be able to treat mama and baby together (or just the baby if s/he is the one who needs it). She is at the Kwan Yin Healing Center, 503-701-8766. NAET is a really woo-woo technique. I have no idea how it works (no one does) but it has really worked for me and my son. We can now eat dairy, sugar, eggs, soy, corn, all nuts and more. We still have celiac (severe sensitivity to gluten) but the practitioner says she can sometimes "put that gene back to sleep" too (now that I'd like to see!).

The research I've been doing seems to suggest that some babies don't get inoculated with the best gut ecology (because the mother's is not good) or something upsets that balance along the way (antibiotics are a good example). This will cause damage to the gut and make people susceptible to food allergies and possibly even neurodevelopmental syndromes (poor digestion creates toxins that cross into the brain). You can google GAPS diet and/or Body Ecology diet to start to learn more. There is a youtube video series featuring the leaders of both of those "cults" which I found very useful and interesting. In any case, your baby might be able tolerate dairy better if it is cultured (yogurt).

Having been down the path of giving up so many foods while being an almost vegetarian myself, I would suggest being careful about substituting dairy for meat or soy for dairy, etc. It can be a slippery slope that results in eating more highly processed foods, especially those pesky meat alternative products.

Hope this helps. We've been through so much and had to figure it all out ourselves. I hope that our experience can benefit others.

Eczema is tricky, sometimes it is a food or environmental trigger, sometimes it's just something gone awry in the skin's response to stimuli.

It's funny how as a parent your decisions can be so easily driven by a positive impact on your child's life. If indeed your son's quality of life is improved by the dairy elimination you'll be willing to take that extra effort. It's always a struggle at the start where you can't see the reward.

As for how strictly to eliminate the offending food, it all depends on the family and the child's sensitivity. Our home was completely allergen-free when our kids were young. It's nerve-wracking to be on vigilant alert in your own home.

Our family manages egg & peanut allergy and rice sensitivity. Our home is free of peanuts. And yes there are a lot of accommodations and it can be overwhelming. A great place to learn practical coping strategies and more is www.kidswithfoodallergies.org there is also a local support group at www.oregonfoodallergy.org

I eliminated dairy with my last two pregnancies and discovered that my body does much better without it. It was hard at first (especially giving up pizza), but I adjusted. I try to cook vegan for my family about half the time and found a wonderful vegan cookbook called "eat, drink & be vegan" by Dreena Burton. All of the recipes we have tried are great and my meat-eating husband loves them. I highly recommend this cookbook as a great resource for vegan cooking. I find that eating vegan for half of our dinners is healthier and cuts grocery costs.

I also have been seeing Erin Kenning and others at Kwan Yin for my own allergies and for my son. They do excellent work, and I recommend them as well!

I have "The Vegan Mediterranean" cookbook and I love it. I can't speak for any allergy related issues, but when my family was looking for health and weightloss plans, I wasn't into low fat or non-dairy alternatives but would rather just go without. Vegan cooking was the total answer for us. We aren't vegan by any means, but if you're looking for some dairy free recipes, they're the way to go.

I am generally quite open minded about things and definitely see a place for eastern medicine and alternative treatments for lots of ailments. However, I think it's very important for those with IgE-mediated food allergies (those causing anaphylactic symptoms like hives, swelling, breathing issues and drop in blood pressure) to know that NAET treatments do not work, and can be down right dangerous.

We found out the hard way that my daughter has severe food allergies. When she was 6 months old, she had such a severe reaction to her first taste of formula (from the milk protein) that she was gasping for breath and her eyes were rolling back in her head by the time the ambulance got there. We later found out that she is also allergic to eggs and nuts (peanuts and treenuts). As an infant and toddler, she was also allergic to soy, wheat and oats, but she has since outgrown those last three.

For her, food allergies are literally a matter of life and death. Initially, we had a dairy and nut free home. Our focus has really been on teaching her how to handle her food allergies. She lives in a "milk does a body good" world, and unlike peanuts, people do not understand the severity of her milk allergy. So, instead of asking others for accommodations, we have really focused on teaching her about what is safe and not safe. She learned very early that milk could make her very sick. She knows that milk hides in everything from ice cream to goldfish crackers to bread. And she knows that she only eats food from home or that mom/dad have approved - no exceptions.

We make all of her food, and over time, we have found a lot of convenience foods that work. We generally have a substitute for everything, except as the other poster mentioned, cheese. She likes her "cheese" (follow your heart vegan mozzarella is fine for those avoiding dairy), but she doesn't know what the real thing tastes like.

She is now five, and has survived two years of preschool without a reaction in class, so our comfort zone has expanded a bit. We do allow "unspillable" dairy in the house for her siblings (who interestingly are not allergic to anything). They can eat cheese, or things that have dairy baked in at home. No cows milk or ice cream, or other messy dairy. They all drink either soy or rice milk at home. I do let her sibs drink regular milk when we are out. Her sibs are also invested in keeping her safe, so they often ask if things are safe for her to eat, and if not, they go wash their hands right after. It's sweet.

When we go to parties, she brings her own food. When she is in school, she just brings her lunch and eats out of her lunch box. She knows to advocate for herself and ask for more space if she needs it (and she does that when someone is say, eating a cheese stick or yogurt next to her). She is OK with eating something different. As a matter of fact, at her upcoming birthday party, she picked a place that serves pizza, and when we told her that, she said the other kids could have that and she'd just bring a sandwich (we offered to make her as safe pizza, but she said no).

She is very matter of fact about her allergies. We have taught the kids that food is fuel. Some kids eat nuts for protein on the go, she eats seeds for protein on the go, etc. She knows a lot about nutrition and nutrients gained from each food, because we compare what she gets from her foods with what others get from cheese, milk, eggs, etc.

Cookbooks we have found helpful are the vegan lunchbox, and cookies for everyone. Also, anyone with allergies and food sensitivities should check out Kids with Food Allergies (www.kidswithfoodallergies.org). They are a great online resource for parents of kids with food restrictions. There is even a recipe database with thousands of recipes searchable by allergen.

I am really happy to see this post on here. It is hard for those of us with kids managing food allergies to sometimes feel "normal". All we want is to let our kids be kids, and its sometimes hard to do that when we have to be on the lookout for things like, say a stray goldfish cracker at the park. One of the saddest experiences we had was when we took our kids to the park, and there was ice cream that had spilled and been smeared all over the slide. It was there in smaller amounts all over the play structure, and we had to leave. That was the first time she said that food allergies aren't fair.

Sorry this got so long. This is a topic near and dear to my heart.

We don't have any nuts or nut products in our home. We were actually just at a picnic today and when it was time for deserts we had to go. Other kids were eating cookies with peanuts in them and playing with various toys and balls outside. My son could have an allergic reaction from touching one of the toys that the other kids have touched while eating their peanut cookie. Having life threatening food allergies is something we have to be diligent about all the time. We are always on guard.

My daughter is severely allergic to peanuts and eggs. I'm comforted (and sad) to know that other families have the same struggles that we face at home, school, parks and social functions. We never leave the house without our Benadryl, inhaler and Epi-pens! I know this is slightly off topic but does anyone know anything about the food allergy desensitization treatments offered by Dr. James Baker in L.O.? I am would really like to find out how effective and safe it is from someone going through the program.

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