Tag Archives: Elimination Diet

Tbt – Holding On for “Deer” Life

Today, we throw it back to last December and early January right after TJ’s anaphylactic reaction.   Here is one of my first blog posts. It gives a perfect account of what was going on during that time…


DECEMBER 26, 2014-JANUARY 8, 2015

Quite frankly, I was in a major funk these days.   I was putting all my energy into still being my happy self in front of my son; however, I was an absolute mess when he was not around.   A lot happened during these two weeks…

  1. We took my son to have allergy testing through blood work.   We saw an excellent guy who was able to get a lot of blood.   When these results came back, it was confirmed that now my son was allergic to OAT and BARLEY in addition to the skin tested allergens of WHEAT, PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, DAIRY, and EGGS. Therefore, I cut out the few items that I was eating that contained oat and barley.

  2. I also realized that my favorite non-dairy creamer for my coffee was not dairy free so I cut it out. I cried…

  3. I then realized that I should not be eating tootsie roll lollipops everyday like I had been doing when I pumped. (It was my treat twice a day…I never liked chocolate much before being pregnant.) However, it contains milk so I cut these out too and yes, I cried again…It sounds silly what I was crying about.   I think I just kept feeling like more and more food that I enjoyed were being taken away. And even worse, I felt like I had been hurting my son for so many months and had no clue.  (While no one can confirm this, I truly hope and pray that I helped him during those 7.5 months of breastfeeding before my elimination diet started.

  4. I met with Nutritionist #1.   She basically told me that I may have celiacs disease which I definitely do not. However, I kindly took all of her materials and thanked her for her advice. She did tell me that I could eat goat cheese so I stopped and bought some on the way home.  However, my son’s allergist soon told me that was NOT the case. As I threw out the goat cheese, I cried again…

  5. I met with an orthopedic for a severe pain in my left thumb/wrist.   I had read about what I thought I had, “Mommy Thumb.” Sure enough, the doctor confirmed this and told me that I needed a cortisone shot in the area. A few days after the shot, the pain went away for three weeks.   But, then came back even worse.

  6. I found a lump on my right breast.   I freaked out. I went to my gynecologists’ office twice about it and called four times.   Yes, I do sound crazy and I am sure that they thought I was too. At the first visit, I was told it was a torn muscle. Then, a day later as the pain got worse, the doctor told me that it was a clogged milk duct and called in a medication for me if it got infected.   However, I never went to get it.  Lots of massaging, pumping, and nursing did the job.

    During these two weeks,  I was definitely depressed.  I truly thought that everything was falling apart, that I had messed up everything, and that there was nothing that I could do to fix it.  I had an intense sense of impending doom.   Since I have experienced a couple times in my life where I suffered from depression and anxiety, I knew that this was what it was.   However, I needed to stop it.  I had to for my son.   I had to take care of myself for him.   I just couldn’t figure out how to do this. One day I caught myself obsessing over how much I was eating, measuring and remeasuring my food.   While I had never stopped counting calories and measuring food, I had not limited myself in close to 20 years.   I recognized some of these behaviors that I was doing as the start of an eating problem again. Yet, I could not stop.   My life seemed to be out of my control and this was one thing that I could control.  I was losing a couple more pounds with this elimination diet.  I probably needed to add more daily calories because of the way that my body was metabolizing this rather healthy elimination diet.  In fact, I was having dizzy spells too.

    Because of a lingering cold, I went to my actual doctor and had blood work done to make sure that I was not deficient in any areas.   I was falling apart quicker than I could catch myself. Yet, I felt like I was doing something right. Even if I was failing at everything else,   I made my son smile on…


Looking back to that early entry, it is evident how overwhelming anxiety and stress can be.   I do believe that following my son’s initial allergic reaction, I suffered some post traumatic stress. I remember feeling like I was not fit to be a mother and feeling beyond guilty as to why I ever thought I was.  However, I continued to pray for strength because I could not do this alone.

It was through those prayers that I was reminded one morning of why I initially even decided that I was ready to be a mom…

Before my son, I loved my life of spending time with my husband, my job and tutoring until late, traveling to gorgeous beaches when we wanted, Saturday afternoon wine tastings, dinners out, hanging out with friends, and other events that revolved around wine. I felt that I wasn’t ready to be a mom… yet knew I wanted kids.   Therefore, after 3.5 years of being married, I prayed that God would send me a sign that it was time.   I was so scared to take that leap on my own especially since I had seen and heard how relationships became got a lot more difficult after kids. I was afraid of this…I was afraid of change.

After several months of no signs and not feeling any differently, while driving to my last tutoring session of the evening, I started to think about what it would be like to have a child.   In that exact moment, I saw a beautiful deer crossing the road right in front me.  Stopping to let her go, I then noticed that two tiny fawns trotted right along her side.

FAWN

While I had seen plenty of deer in my life, this was by far one of the most remarkable moments because of its perfect timing. It was then that I knew I was more than ready to take this leap into motherhood. It was in that exact moment I knew I had forever changed.

God’s work in my life always astonishes me.  During that morning of praying for strength, he reminded me of that very deer and her fawns. It was then that I knew everything was going to be more than okay and that maybe it was not about holding on for dear life.   Instead, maybe I needed to let go and trust that God’s grace would be there opening my eyes to see wings I never knew existed. 

WINGS

To conclude but only for now, as I was packing up my belongings at school this past Tuesday, I noticed that my window was open.   As I walked over to close it, I noticed a giant leaf sitting on the sill.   Just when I was going to push this outside, I noticed that I was mistaken.   It was a large praying mantis.  In all of my life, I have only seen one of these beautifully unique creatures and that was during my childhood. While I do not yet know the meaning of this, I once again believe it symbolizes that something amazing is up ahead for us.

prayign mantis

With all of this, my smiles have been turned to genuine as I continue to join my son in smiling on…

tj cartoon TBT


Do believe in signs? If so, was there ever a time when one of these signs transformed you?


“If I told you my story
You would hear hope that wouldn’t let go
If I told you my story
You would hear love that never gave up
If I told you my story
You would hear life but it wasn’t mine…”

– “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave

Source: http://www.klove.com/music/artists/big-daddy-weave/songs/my-story-lyrics.aspx

Back to the Crucial Basics: How to Use an EpiPen

Whether you have a food allergy or not, it is crucial to understand the basics.   The following link contains valuable information, guidelines, tips, and even a video about food allergies, anaphylaxis, and EpiPens.   Helping in being prepared, we smile on…

https://www.epipen.com/about-epipen/how-to-use-epipen

Source: https://www.epipen.com/en/

tj cartoon

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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TIPSy TUESDAYS: Always Read Labels – The Reality of Hidden Allergens – PART 3 (EGGS)

From food to non-food products, it is extremely crucial to be on the look out for hidden allergens. Reading food labels and learning about ingredients becomes second nature when living with food allergies.   However, even when you are comfortable with a product, it is important still double check the label especially since companies can change the makeup of their products. In addition, the ingredients in many everyday items will amaze you at times.   I know that I continue to be surprised by many of the components of common foods and non-food products.

Here is some of the information about EGGS that I have learned throughout the course of this journey so far. (It does NOT include every location of these allergens as we are still learning.)

EGGS 2


1) EGG ALLERGY

In the United States, egg is one of the top 8 most common food allergies and second most common allergies among children. Like any allergy, it is important to once again read all labels, checking for any ingredients that may contain eggs.  According to the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), companies are required to label their products for the presence of eggs.  However,  there are some products that are not covered by these FDA allergen labeling laws and therefore, are exempt.

Some include:

  • Foods that are not regulated by the FDA
  • Prescription & over-the-counter drugs
  • Cosmetics, shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste, shaving cream
  • Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products
  • Pet foods and supplies
  • Toys and crafts
  • And others….

For more information about product labeling, click here.

To read the complete law, click here.


EGG ALLERGY AVOIDANCE LIST & RESOURCE

The following link is an amazing resource for those with an egg allergy.   The link contains an egg allergy avoidance list and travel-size cards.  It also includes the hidden names for eggs.

Egg-Allergy-Avoidance-List-Hidden-Names

Source: http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org


This second link contains food avoidance lists for the top 8 allergens.

Tips For Avoiding Your Allergen

Source: http://www.foodallergy.org/home


Eggs and Vaccinations

Some vaccines contain egg protein. Read more about this here.   This is why TJ now gets some of his vaccines at his allergist’s office. For example, about a month ago, he received the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) shot by a nurse at this office.   While I was so anxious about him having this vaccine and any potential reactions it may cause, he was safely administered it with no reactions, minus a slight eczema flare-up. Unfortunately, we will soon need to schedule to get his flu shot there too since daycare requires it by law. Since the egg-free version Flublok is only FDA approved for people 18 years of age or older, this is not an option.

Egg Allergy & the Flu Vaccine


Eggs in my Wine?!?!?

Here is an example of just how important it is to read every single label.

Last May, I was on the elimination diet of all of TJ’s allergies in order to continue breastfeeding.  One Friday night as I waited for my husband to get home from picking up food, I poured some wine. Just when I was about to have a sip, I noticed its label…

WINE BLOG

“This wine was produced with the aid of egg fining, and traces may remain.”

This just goes to show everyone who is dealing with food allergies to read every single label even when it seems irrational to do so!


Since we want to educate others on the world of food allergies and believe sharing is caring, we continue to smile on…


Disclaimer: This blog is a personal blog and used as a way of sharing and connecting with other readers. The posts, articles, and stories shared on the site are meant as a source of encouragement. In this challenging world of food allergies, I have found reaching out to other parents and people in my shoes to be extremely resourceful and inspiring. Therefore, I want to give back and do the same. The information on my blog is not intended as medical advice so as always, please consult with your doctor.

TIPSy TUESDAYS – Always Read Labels –

Oats & The Gluten Free Diet

OATS    &      glutenfree

Sometimes the world of food allergies is beyond confusing.   One area that I have found confusing is this very topic: oats and the gluten-free diet.  Because of that, I found the following article helpful so I wanted to share and smile on…

Oats & the Gluten Free Diet

Source: http://allergicliving.com/

 

 

TIPSy TUESDAYS – Always Read Labels – The Reality of Hidden Allergens – PART 2 (SESAME)

From food to non-food products, it is extremely crucial to be on the look out for hidden allergens. Reading food labels and learning about ingredients becomes second nature when living with food allergies.   However, even when you are comfortable with a product, it is important still double check the label especially since companies can change the makeup of their products. In addition, the ingredients in many everyday items will amaze you at times.   I know that I continue to be surprised by many of the components of common foods and non-food products.

Here is some of the information about SESAME that I have learned throughout the course of this journey so far. (It does NOT include every location of these allergens as we are still learning.)


1) SESAME ALLERGY

In the United States, sesame is one of the top 10 most common food allergies; however, currently only the top 8 are required by law to be listed on food labels.   Therefore, it is often trickier to manage. Those with a sesame allergy need to be aware of the other names for sesame.

Here are some of these other names for sesame: Anjonjoli, Til, Benne, Gingelly, Simsim, Teel

Also, with a sesame allergy, one must avoid all sesame seed and sesame oil products.  Sesame oil is usually not refined like many other oils.  Because sesame is a difficult allergy to manage, I have listed both the obvious and more hidden places where sesame seeds/oil may be found.

SESAME

Someone with a sesame allergy must avoid and understand the following words:

  • Sesame seed and sesame oil
  • Sesame Seeds = Sesamum indicum (The scientific name for sesame)
  • Sesame = Simsim (Name for sesame in East Africa)
  • Sesame salt = Gomasio
  • Sesame seed paste = Tahini
  • Halvah =sesame flour + honey; a Middle Eastern confection
  • Sesamol = component of sesame oil
  • Gingelly oil = another name for sesame oil
  • Hummus = spread or paste made from sesame seeds, chickpeas, olive oil, lemon, garlic (and other added ingredients based on variety)

Sesame may be hidden behind labeled ingredients of:

  • spices
  • natural flavors
  • seeds

Food items that sesame may sometimes be found in: (Very important to read every label and inquire when dining out.)

SESAME SUSHI

  • dips and spreads like chutney
  • falafel and related products
  • rices, noodles, stews, stir fry, risotto
  • sauces
  • processed meats, chicken, sausage, veggie burgers
  • breads, bagels, rolls, pastries,
  • bread crumbs, bread sticks
  • cereals and muesli
  • crackers, pita chips
  • cakes, granola bars, protein bars
  • candy and trail mix
  • appetizers (not just sesame chicken)
  • Asian cuisine (like sushi)
  • Middle Eastern cuisine (like halvah &tahini)
  • Gluten free products
  • And the list goes on…

Non-food items that may contain sesame oil:

  • lip gloss & products (Sometimes listed as sesamum indicum -sesame seed oil)
  • skin cream

Additional Sesame Seed/Oil Allergy Information

(Source: Allergy Experts US Website )

Sesame Allergy

(Source: Kids with Food Allergies Website)


Since I know I learned a lot by writing this post, I am confident that others will also find it informational so we smile on…


Disclaimer: This blog is a personal blog and used as a way of sharing and connecting with other readers. The posts, articles, and stories shared on the site are meant as a source of encouragement. In this challenging world of food allergies, I have found reaching out to other parents and people in my shoes to be extremely resourceful and inspiring. Therefore, I want to give back and do the same. The information on my blog is not intended as medical advice so as always, please consult with your doctor.


TIPSy TUESDAYS – Always Read Labels –


Snack Safely – Safe Snack List (Updated on August 12, 2015)

SNACK SAFELY is an excellent resource for snacking safely with food allergies that our middle school’s nurse shared with us yesterday during training.  Love it!

This site updates this list 2-3 times a month.   I plan to read and download these updates so wanted to also share as we continue to smile on… 

SNACK SAFELY – SAFE SNACK LIST (UPDATED ON AUGUST 12, 2015)