After the diagnosis, and the meeting with the nutritionist, I have a basic diet plan. The nutritionist also suggested a book which explained something called a “rotation diet”, in which I cannot repeat foods or food families for 4 days. I kept a notebook of which foods Elijah ate for each meal, making sure not to repeat. Since his diet was so limited in the beginning, some repetition was inevitable.
We were also making a coconut water kefir (fermented drink with probiotics) as a supplement. He drank it until– he became allergic to coconuts. Anything he ate more than a few times, he became allergic to. Back then, I did not realize coconut was actually a nut! But, it is– the coconut is, in fact, the world’s largest tree nut!
After some time, I was able to add new foods to Elijah’s diet. Eventually he outgrew the banana and grape allergy.
It took about a year after the food allergy diagnosis for his eczema to subside; by age 2, his skin was mostly clear.
Elijah still continued the Neocate as an important part of his diet– giving him calories and nutrition that he wasn’t getting from his everyday diet. I was prescribed an epipen, and continued to carry Benadryl everywhere (and still do).
That first year was a year of detailed note-taking regarding his diet. I think I still have that notebook — at least, I hope I have not thrown it away. It’s good to remember where we’ve been and how far we’ve come, and also it’s a testimony for Elijah to read later. Oh– and he can also see what his mom had to go through, haha!
Next is Chapter 3– where I bring the story up to date, through 2013.
From Age 2 until the Present (2013):
With the Neocate, and an expanding diet, Elijah recovered his previous weight loss. His eczema also improved and eventually disappeared!
After about a year of the rotation diet and a bit longer (from age 1 until sometime after age 2), I did not need to follow the rotation diet so strictly anymore, though I was still conscious of not over-doing the same food day after day.
I have Elijah’s allergies tested once a year, with a blood test. A few years ago, Elijah’s egg allergy dropped to zero according to the blood test numbers. We did a food challenge in the doctor’s office using a baked cupcake (which I made at home, and which contained egg). The baked egg is denatured, so is considered a safer starting point to test an egg allergy. Elijah passed his egg food challenge with flying colors. He was still not able to eat eggs straight though– that would take another year, if I recall correctly.
For one year, it felt like a whole new food world was opening up with the inclusion of eggs in baked goods. It made a huge difference to him to have cake and cookies that could be prepared with eggs.
After another year, we were able to add eggs eaten whole– scrambled, for example, or boiled. And he did just fine.
Today, Elijah can eat eggs in any fashion without concern. We still don’t eat too many in one day– and try not to eat them day after day.
Unfortunately, as far as his other food allergies– those remain. He is allergic to:
peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy, wheat, legumes, coconut (I always say it separately, because many people do not realize it is an actual nut), sesame.
Elijah CAN safely eat:
fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, rice, potatoes, quinoa, oatmeal, millet, buckwheat (which is not a wheat, but is a grass), amaranth, teff, etc.
He can also eat green beans and soy lecithin (food additive) safely.
We have been able to add almost everything into his diet, thanks to the expanded food allergy section in many supermarkets and specialty health food stores. We can get breads, muffins, cake and frosting mixes, alternative shortening and non-dairy, non-soy butter, cookies, ice cream made out of rice milk, pizza with a crust made from a boxed mix, and dairy-free, soy-free cheese. It’s been a blessing to have access to all of these special foods. I have become an avid label reader.
I still hope and pray for the rest of these allergies to be overcome.
As far as daily meals, I try to cook the same for everyone as much as I can. But, it isn’t always possible, so in those cases, I have to make two versions of the same meal: a regular version and an allergy version.
At this stage, he is healthy and growing, in spite of all of these food allergies. I keep my eyes and ears open to any alternative treatments regarding food allergies. :)
It is something we live with, every single day. We can’t leave home without the epipen or Benadryl. And as far as Elijah, he lives with it, too– it is just reality– and for the most part, he handles it well. Occasionally there are times he wants to eat what others are eating. But usually, as long as he also has something good to eat or a similar alternative, he is happy.
Many people do not realize how dangerous food allergies can be— some allergies are deadly. A food allergy reaction can range from a skin rash, hives, to the closing of the throat, vomiting, etc.
Elijah has experienced all of those reactions: skin rashes, eczema, swelling of the lips, funny feeling in his throat, stomach aches, and vomiting.
I am thankful that we have had the opportunity to diagnose and adequately treat his food allergies. I realize that this accessibility is not available in other cultures. However– I also realize that food allergies, though it is perhaps growing now in other countries, is a much bigger problem here in this country than in other parts of the world. Obviously, our food supply (for many reasons: GMOs, pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) is far from the natural state that God created. No wonder our bodies cannot process the overly processed foods!
How about you? Do you have a food allergy or another food challenge to deal with? I’d love to hear your story.