Tag Archives: Coconut Allergy

Favorite Finds Friday – Sippy Cup/Soy

The following post was my very first “Favorite Finds Friday” about a product that we still love. Check it out and smile on with us this Friday…

“From now on, I plan to post a “Favorite Find” on some Fridays.  Like this week, it may not always directly relate to food allergies and eczema.   However, it will always be something that has helped us a lot with TJ’s restricted diet.

To start, after TJ passed his soy food challenge, I started to wean from breastfeeding after a lot of debating about it.   However, for us, at that time, it was the right decision.   This new soy tolerance gave us two new options: soy milk or a soy-based toddler formula.   Because TJ’s iron levels were slightly low and we were looking for ways to bring them up without using a supplement, we, with the guidance of our pediatrician and a nutritionist, decided that the toddler soy formula would be the best option for TJ.   Therefore, around 13.5 months, TJ started to solely drink Similac Go & Grow Toddler Soy Formula as his “milk” source.

I worried that the transition from nursing/breast milk would be difficult; however, the most difficult challenge proved to be getting TJ to stop drinking from a bottle.  He would drink water from a sippy cup since he was like 8 months old.  However, he would not drink milk/formula from one.  I think I bought close to 20 different sippy cups and nothing worked until a friend from my breastfeeding support group suggested the NUK Blue Turtle Silicone Spout Active Cup below. Check it out:

http://www.nuk-usa.com/cups_and_accessories/turtle-ladybug-active-cup/

Not only does TJ loves this product, it has also helped him use several other different kinds of sippy cups.  Therefore, we continue to smile on…”

 

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TIPSy TUESDAYS – Going on Vacation

Because I am currently trying to get my own health in order, I am reposting my first “TIPSy TUESDAY.”  I posted this right after our first family vacation after learning about my son’s multiple food allergies. Since I look forward to our next family adventure, I looked back and wanted to share some tips…

Going on vacation with food allergies


 

Now, at least in my experience with having a son with multiple food allergies and skin sensitivities, everything new is a scary ordeal.   Every new food, new lotion, new soap, new visitor, new school year, new milestone, new experience, new environment, and everything else you can have a new of can be nerve-racking.

With that being said, going on our first family vacation since my son’s diagnosis was a huge new experience with many new environments to inspect and learn to trust. Therefore, while I was excited, I was full of anxiety those first days.

Here are some tips that I found to be helpful.

  1.  Be prepared: Check to see where the local hospital/urgent care is.  Also, make sure to bring the proper medications and emergency plans.  In our case, we searched the nearest medical centers beforehand.  Since I always carry Epi-pens and Benadryl on me, we also packed extra of these.  I copied TJ’s recently updated “Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan” before we left  to keep with us all the time.
  2. Plan Meals Beforehand: Since TJ was only 15 months during this trip, we still made most of the food that he was eating.  Therefore, we planned ahead, making sure that we had enough of his food for the duration of the trip, or least the food that we thought we may not be able to get on vacation.  We also made sure that the place we were staying had a kitchen with a refrigerator and oven to help with his food.  Because of the reality of cross-contact, we also brought his own pots, pans, trays, containers, and utensils. (See more information about cross contact here.)
  3. Scope out the scenes everywhere: (To some,  this tip may seem to be a bit much;  however, I find it to be extremely critical.)
    1. Check out the place you are staying.   Even though we stayed at a very well-kept place, we wiped down the surfaces all around, emptied out unsafe foods left in the refrigerator by previous people, vacuumed, etc. When we first arrived as my husband was unpacking the car (before we had time to wipe down and vacuum) , the first thing TJ wanted to do with his toys was put all of his farm animals on one of the dining room chairs.   I quickly scanned the chair and noticed a larger piece of Parmesan cheese.   Therefore, we cleaned everything where he would be. I truly believe that you cannot be too cautious.
    2.  Scope out the locations you visit throughout the day such as the beach and aquarium.   While I know that this tip may sound irrational,  we learned that scoping out the beach is extremely important.   On our vacation this time around, I checked out the area of sand that TJ was playing in and it seemed safe.   However, when he started to run around, I noticed peanut shells nearby.   Later in the afternoon, I noticed pistachio nut shells. Apparently lots of people eat nuts and peanuts on the beach so just check out the area.  This was just something I never thought of beforehand. In addition to nuts on the beach, we also had to be careful when we visited the aquarium on a rainy day.  This is because the facility sold buttered popcorn.  As people walked around, many ate and dropped a ton of this buttery treat all over.   It was safest, especially on the first floor where it was sold, to hold my son or keep him in the stroller.
  4. Bedding/Washing: With TJ’s eczema and skin sensitivities, we have to be careful with detergents and soaps.   While for many months we only used Soap Nuts to wash all of our laundry, we now use a free and clear detergent that doesn’t affect TJ’s skin negatively. Therefore, we brought this detergent as well as all of TJ’s safe soaps. In addition, we brought all of our own bedding and towels which many people do anyways.
  5. Have fun: While you should always be on guard, like a close family member reminded me a week ago, we all need to “live a little.” With the proper preparations, trips can be super enjoyable and totally worth the pre-trip anxiety.  Because our first family vacation with food allergies was a huge success, we smile on and look forward to the next…

 

 

 

Tbt – Coconut Milk Food Challenge (Take 1)

It was March 4, 2015.  The day that I had internally dreaded and battled for weeks and weeks now had arrived. Today would be TJ’s first food challenge where he would ingest coconut for the first time.

COCONUT

But before we recap that day, what is a food challenge?

According to Foodallergy.org, an oral food challenge is a highly accurate diagnostic test for a food allergy.” It is done with an allergist at a medical facility due to the potential risk of an allergic reaction. See more here: 

Oral Food Challenge – Resource 1

FOOD CHALLENGES

(Check out the link below for this awesome resource…)

Oral Food Challenge – Resource 2

(Source: http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/)


Since TJ was 10 months and allergic to most varieties of milk (almond, soy, cow’s, goat, oat, coconut), we were trying to figure out what route to take after I stopped breastfeeding. I do not regret for one second doing that crazy strict elimination diet from December through June to continue breastfeeding as I know that it was best for TJ’s health and safety during that time. However, we prayed that TJ’s body would mature and be able to thrive on another option as well. I could not breastfeed forever.

Therefore, his doctors analyzed his blood work to devise a plan. To complicate matters, testing for allergies via blood work is not always accurate. People can have false negatives and false positives within their results. (For more about blood tests and its accuracy, click here.) Because of his dermographism, skin testing is not an option right now. His skin reacts to many substances due to being hyper-sensitive, not only due to allergies. According to blood work IgE levels, coconut was his lowest level of his allergies.  Therefore, in theory, he had the least chance of having a reaction to coconut.

(Despite that, it is important to note that there is ALWAYS a chance of a mild or even severe reaction at any level. With an IgE level of 0.6, I was never told to eliminate coconut from my diet during the six months of the elimination diet.   Our doctor, allergists, and nutritionist all agreed, this was PROBABLY not a true allergy.)

Click here to see my post on Allergy Classification.

Still I did not find comfort in the “probably.” Actually, I’ve never found comfort in the “probablys” in life. (Ask my parents…  I drove them crazy growing up, insisting on a “definitely” if I was ever told “probably.” Now, I am still that same persistent self…. my poor husband … )

EMBARASSED

Anyways, I prayed and prayed that God would guide us and protect TJ.

FAITH 10

On the morning of the challenge, TJ woke up and he nursed like usual. After feeding for a few minutes, he unlatched and puked all over.  This had never happened before even before our elimination diet. This was different. It was not allergy related. It was his first stomach bug. The food challenge had to be postponed, and later cancelled until further testing.

I took it as a sign back then that his body wasn’t ready for any food challenges and that we would wait until his allergies were retested around his first birthday to come up with a plan.  For me, the exact timing of the stomach bug was not a coincidence. Instead, it confirmed that this was indeed God’s way of protecting TJ and showing us not to put him in the food challenge back in early March.   How amazing is that!

god is good

4 months later (in July)…

After his first birthday, TJ passed both a soy and pea oral food challenge. He was and continues to do wonderfully with both. It was recommended that he also participate in a coconut milk challenge then at 14 months old.  This time around I was not as worried as I had been in the past.  His body seemed to be making such progress with allergies. But we would soon learn why that word probably is often used…

TJ’s blood IgE level for soy was higher than coconut ever was. He passed soy and consumes it every day since. However, his body would reject coconut milk and cause him to mildly vomit and develop an itchy mouth when he went on to challenge it with his allergist. Therefore, despite levels, coconut is a true allergy and soy may have never been.  It is either crazy frustrating or fascinating … but all depends how you chose to look at it. All of this drove me crazy for awhile but now I accept it as part of this world of food allergies…

Looking back, I truly believe TJ would have had a worse reaction to coconut if he had challenged it back in March. Thank God for that “”perfectly-timed” stomach bug… . Never thought I’d say that

Most importantly, thank God for protecting him not only that day but every day, giving us more reasons to smile on even if it is without coconut…


What are your thoughts on or experiences with food challenges?  

Looking back, has anything negative like a stomach bug ever come at the “perfect” time for you?

 I’d love to hear what you have to say. 

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TJ’s Daycare Update – September 26

It has been almost a month since we started back at work and daycare after having off for the summer. Therefore, I wanted to give an update on how everything is going with TJ being back at daycare as an active toddler with his eczema and multiple food allergies. While there have been some challenges, we are blessed because he has been safe. So let me recap week by week the challenges while also counting our blessings.

For more background information on the safety plan we put together for TJ’s utmost safety, check out these two previous posts:

  1. Preparing for Daycare (A Plan in the Works)
  2. TJ’s Daycare Accommodations

Leading up to that first week back, I experienced major anxiety, worrying about all the “what ifs” and horrible possibilities that could happen. I even reached out to different moms through other allergy sites about sending their toddlers with multiple food allergies to daycare. After the first few people responded to my post, I started to get even more upset. They were mostly all suggesting not to send TJ to a daycare at all and offering other options that they themselves took. While I appreciated all the suggestions especially since I had been the one who asked, I grew even more anxious. That’s when I realized that I was not looking for suggestions. Instead I was hunting for confirmation from everyone and anyone that we were making the right decision for TJ. Asking others on other allergy sites for suggestions is one thing and a great resource to have.  However, searching for confirmation all over the place is the same exact reason that complicated and frustrated me last winter when TJ’s allergies were first discovered. I reminded myself that I do NOT need confirmation from everyone and anyone who will listen. Therefore, I stopped reading the other posts and suggestions, and shifted my focus to trusting our detailed plan, my mother’s intuition and most importantly, God. Repeating to myself over and over again every single time a worry comes to mind… “I trust you God.”

Therefore, with the start of the new school year, TJ  started back at the daycare facility that is a block from my work and has been working with us since he started at 6 months.  This staff has been working  more closely with us since his initial allergic reaction in December. (Read more about that experience here.) And even more closely now that he is a very active toddler among many other active toddlers.


So, let’s get back to the actual update:

WEEK 1
Challenge: The Food Strike

In addition to the screaming that happened and broke my heart every morning when I dropped him off, TJ would not eat much at daycare that first week, and even had two days of total refusal. Thankfully, he would drink his soy toddler formula. However, we were panicked since he was losing weight in only 4 days being at daycare. He would, however, eat his dinner at home on those days.

Was it just the transition back to daycare?

Was it our fault for allowing and using Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and music videos (ha) during mealtimes at home to get him to eat? (At the start of the summer since TJ’s iron levels were slightly low, we were following our pediatrician’s advice to not give a supplement yet and try different iron-rich foods. Therefore, we gave into the television and it worked! ) However, was it causing a problem now?

Was teething not helping the situation?

Or, a thought that crossed my mind which several others Including my hubby may think I’m crazy for …

Even though TJ was only 16 months, did he somehow already understand that only food from Mommy and Daddy was safe? Was God protecting him with this strike?

Counting our blessings: The hunger strike then continued over that weekend at home. All of the sudden, TJ wanted to feed himself the specific foods that he wanted. So, after emailing our pediatrician, we followed TJ’s lead and also avoided watching Mickey. By the end of that weekend, he was eating and much more independent with it. And, two new teeth had cut through … the upper canines. Ouch!

TEETHINGIf you ask me, these new teeth and independent phase ( hunger strike and all) could not have come at a better time. Now that TJ was eating more on his own, he did not need as much assistance from anyone and there would less of a chance of cross contamination during mealtimes. Every day when I pick TJ up from daycare, I thank God for keeping him safe that day. Despite the hunger strike,  I count my blessings… TJ was protected and safe.

WEEK 2
Challenge: No More High Chair?

To start the week off, TJ and I had a “talk” in the car about eating at daycare and that all of the food is safe and sent by Mommy and Daddy. (Ha I know this is a bit silly but hey, they understand more than we think they do, right?) As we went to get out of the car that morning, TJ held on tightly to one of his favorite stuffed animals, Buddy. Since I did not want to upset him, I let him bring it with him. He did not cry that morning and actually ate half of his food! Thank you Buddy and the rest of his stuffed buddies who take turns going to school with TJ each day now.  Our mornings are no longer filled with tears.

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With the eating improving week 2, another challenge presented itself though. That Friday when I picked TJ up for the day, he was not drinking his afternoon sippy cup in the high chair we had provided.  Instead, he was seated at one of the main tables where four other toddlers eat.  He was seated in a seat labeled “Hunter.” While there had been conversation about TJ eventually being transitioned from the safe, allergen-free high chair to the “food allergy safe table,” we did not think that this would happen without us knowing and on the 8th day of school!!! Plus, he wasn’t even at the table designated for allergies.  He sat at one of the main tables.

NO MORE HIGH CHAIR

As soon as TJ saw me, he threw his sippy cup down onto the table and ran to me.  While I know that the staff cleans the tables and it is a peanut and tree nut free classroom, I was not comfortable with the entire scenario and how it went down without us knowing.   I told his teacher that I was not comfortable with this and explained my reasons why.  However, it was Friday, I was exhausted, wanted to beat traffic, and discuss this with my husband before deciding what to do next.

SURPRISE

One of my biggest fears before the school year started was that everyone would be super cautious and careful with TJ to begin with.  Then, as the weeks and months went by, they would become “comfortable” and more relaxed with everything. I did not expect that comfort to already present itself on day 8 though!

CONFUSED 2

Counting our blessings: We emailed the directors that weekend very nicely explaining our concerns with this change.  They responded right away with a very supportive email, indirectly letting us know that they had no idea about the change.   After speaking with them, it was clarified to everyone that for now TJ is to sit in his high chair for all meals.  At the end of October, we will all discuss switching him to his allergen-free table. They also assured us that before any change occurs with TJ we would be contacted and asked our thoughts on it.   TJ also now participates in art activities at the main tables.   However, food is not involved.

We count our blessings…Not only is a daycare facility going above and beyond for TJ’s safety, he has been protected and safe.


WEEK 3

Challenge: First Cold of the School Year

Counting our blessings: Although colds and sicknesses stink and I hate to see my Cutes not feeling well, I know that they are inevitable especially when you attend a daycare. Because I know that TJ has been kept safe for almost a month now and a facility is working so closely with us even though they don’t have to, this first cold doesn’t even seem like a challenge at all. Therefore, we are extremely blessed and thankful.  With all of that being said and some extra cuddles and rest, we know that we will kick this cold in the butt so we smile on…

How Does Epinephrine Turn Off an Allergic Reaction?

By now, most of us know that EpiPens and Auvi-Qs are both used to used to treat anaphylaxis, life-threatening allergic reactions.  However, who really knows how these life-saving injectors really work? I know that I did not so I found this article extremely informative.  Starting the weekend off a little smarter, we smile on.

Check it out ….

How Does Epinephrine Turn Off an Allergic Reaction

Source: http://allergicliving.com/

LOVE

Tbt – How Do You Like Them Apples?

Aside from learning how to handle and about TJ’s multiple food allergies, last winter was a challenging one also filled with daycare sicknesses, stomach bugs, eczema flare ups, and the infamous teething. Therefore, we greeted Spring with open arms and full of hope. What we didn’t know was that this new season would also bring new challenges of its own. One of these new challenges would be pollen season.

While both my husband and I have or have had seasonal allergies ourselves, I did suspect that TJ would too. I did not consider how it would complicate matters a bit though.

POLLEN

It was also around April that we started to gradually add baby food jars, by our trusted brands, back into TJ’s diet. From January through March, we made all of TJ’s food as we found that was the best way to control his allergies. He had experienced some skin reactions (not anaphylactic) to a couple jars so we decided that a break may be in his best interest. This had also been suggested by our doctor. Therefore, Saturdays involved many hours of making, storing and prepping all his food for the week. It was exhausting and time-consuming, but we knew it was the best option for him then. Since he had been doing so well, it was around the start of spring we decided with the guidance of our doctor that adding back some of the organic baby food jars was the next step.

So right around the start of a brutal pollen season, we gradually added back jars of carrots, sweet potatoes, pears, and apples. We continue to make his other foods. For the first few weeks, everything was going so well. I felt a sense of relief. Don’t get me wrong, I loved and still love making TJ his meals. However, it was definitely a load off of our shoulders knowing that his body could tolerate some store bought products too.


Thank you Earth’s Best

 EarthsBest-297x300

& Beech-nut.

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TJ’s breakfast involved apples and bananas with buck wheat baby cereal mixed in. Everything seemed to be going so well. That was until one early spring morning when after a couple spoonfuls of this mixture, TJ’s lip and mouth became irritated, red and itchy. Thus, he became fussy and refused to eat. We became confused, frustrated, and scared.  Apples were one of TJ’s few safe foods at the time and even in the puffs he was starting to love had apple in them.

How could this be affecting him?

He wasn’t allergic to apples or was he?

Or wait, was it the bananas?

Or buck wheat?

Ugh!!!!!!!!


The next day we only gave apples and sure enough, it happened again. We contacted both allergists and even our pediatrician, asking for guidance.

  1. One allergist told us that she had seen this with another child recently too. Since TJ did have a slight cold as well, she suspected it was his body reacting to the virus. She suggested continuing to give him the apples.
  2. The other allergist, our main one, suggested we take a break from apples for a week and then gradually reintroduce them again after. Both stated they did not think he had grown allergic. The world of food allergies is beyond confusing…

CONFUSED


We decided to take the conservative approach, like we usually do. After a week and a half break from apples, we were able to reintroduce them back. For the most part, his skin and mouth no longer reacting to them. ( minus a couple days here and there ) Strange! Or so we thought until learning some additional information about allergies …


From this experience, here’s what we’ve learned as it relates to TJ.

  1. Cross reactivity with pollen is real. TJ just experienced this again. Here are two articles that discuss this.  Pollen & Food &   Does Your Mouth Itch When You Eat Apples or Other Fruits?
  2. Teething wreaks havoc on these little sensitive guys like TJ.  We have noticed a pattern: When TJ is about to cut a tooth or two, berries cause him a minor mouth and lip reaction.   For TJ, berries and teething don’t mix.  Check out this article explaining more about teething and eczema flare ups. http://www.livestrong.com/article/323625-eczema-teething/#page=1
  3. Everyone’s body with or without food allergies is different. Therefore, figuring out what works best for TJ is a complicated process of doctors’ guidance, trial and error, mother’s intuition, and most importantly, trust that God is guiding our steps on this staircase of smiles…

How Do You Like Them Apples_

Weekly Smiles (Events)

Here is a list of Smiling Away Allergies’ weekly events:

TIPSy Tuesdays

On Tuesdays, I plan to post tips that we have found helpful or something that we have learned during this journey so far. I call it “TIPS”y TUESDAYS not only because I must admit to being a bit corny at times, but mainly because I want to help others be prepared.  Therefore, once a week we will CHEERS to being prepared so we can smile on…


Worry-Free Wednesdays

Each Wednesday I will try to post a quote or lyrics to a song that I find inspirational.  Words that help me see past fear and worry, enabling us to continue to smile on…


Tbt (Throw Back Thursdays)

On some Thursdays, we will throw it back to some of the earlier signs and experiences with food allergies/eczema as well as what we have learned through it. Regardless of what should have or could have happened, we smile on together in trying to educate others about the world of allergies…


Favorite Finds Fridays

I plan to post a “favorite find” on Fridays.  It may not always be directly relate to food allergies and eczema.   However, it will always be something that has helped us a lot with TJ’s experience, allowing us all to smile on in faith…


SMILING ON...

(Source: http://www.firstcovers.com/userquotes/39076/let+your+smile.html)