The all consuming world of food sensitivities

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Anyone that has had to deal with allergies and intolerances will be able to relate to this post and for those that haven’t, perhaps you’ll read something here that will trigger alarm bells. Or perhaps you’ll just have a bit more sympathy next time you see your friend whose kid can’t eat wheat/dairy/soya…

I have always struggled with dairy, never been the hugest fan as I’ve known throughout adulthood that my system has problems digesting it. I would often feel bloated and have stomach cramps or diarrhoea after a dairy laden meal. I cut it out of my diet altogether over a decade ago and felt great for it, but re-added it when I was pregnant with 4yo as I’d allowed myself to believe the hype that it’s the best source of calcium for a growing baby. I now know there are far better sources out there than cows dairy but didn’t then. This is more than likely why she suffers now, because when a pregnant woman eats food she is intolerant of the intolerance can be passed onto the foetus. This fact has played heavily on my heart, but short of time travel there isn’t much I can do about it now.

Being an exclusively breastfed baby all the dairy I was eating will have gone into her milk, and it was obvious (to me at least) that she had food sensitivities from very early on. At two weeks she developed reflux and by six weeks her face was covered in scabby eczema. Our doctor was supremely unhelpful, practically laughed at my suggestion to get her allergy tested and prescribed hydrocortisone cream to clear up her skin. I was incredulous that they would rather put steroids on a six week old baby than get to the root of the problem. I cut dairy back out of my diet and it definitely helped. From the research I did, it seems dairy and reflux often go hand in hand, along with eczema especially when it’s on the face.

When it came to weaning at six months, we decided to allow her to have small quantities of dairy to try and build up a tolerance as opposed to not having it at all which can bring on a full blown allergy. We fared up pretty well in the first year or so when I had strict control over everything she ate. We never gave her cows milk to drink, and we didn’t give her huge amounts of dairy in one day. The rule of thumb being if lunch contained it then tea wouldn’t.

Just after she turned two her facial eczema flared up for the first time since she was a baby, and we just couldn’t get it under control. I went to see the doctor (again) and was told that even if it was related to issues with food the allergy clinic in our area was so over-subscribed they wouldn’t see her because she wasn’t a bad enough case. After six months of not sleeping, exceptionally challenging behaviour, horrible eczema and generally going round in circles we found a private allergy nurse. She confirmed that food intolerances were indeed at the root of our troubles, but it wasn’t just dairy; it was a whole host of food and ingredients. Her advice was complete exclusion all of the allergens from her diet for three months, as this is usually enough time for the body to rid itself of an intolerance.

And so it began. To say it was a ball ache would be an understatement. I cook mainly from scratch, but all our little shortcuts and cheats had to go. Nursery were supportive to a degree, but slipped up on a weekly basis at first meaning we had to keep going back to the start with the exclusion. The diet dictated our lives for a whole year – during which time we also saw two homoeopaths. I now strongly feel that they ripped us off and we may as well have thrown the money down the toilet. A year of being told no all the time, always having different meals to her friends and not being able to eat the food at birthday parties took their toll on our little girl. She became quite miserable, depressed even. The crunch came on holiday in Spain last May, where policing every single thing she ate was almost impossible. We decided to do an experiment and see if she was ready to start eating foods on the banned list again. Amazingly she didn’t appear to have any adverse reactions, and all seemed to be great.

Things were fine for a couple of months, but the tell-tale signs that she was struggling again soon crept back. She was up to nocturnal tricks for some reason or other every night for two weeks. Her eczema flared up, behaviour got really bad and she would get an intermittent sky high temperature that would disappear as quickly as it came. This was a regular occurrence pre-diet, and our allergy nurse was convinced we would see the back of it once we had everything under control. Sure as anything it didn’t feature in our lives for months. We didn’t hang around waiting and put her straight back onto the exclusion diet.

This was a whole year ago, and we have still not been able to reintroduce a single thing. After doing a fair bit of research, I now think she may have gut allergies. We *finally* have an appointment coming up with a paediatrician so will hopefully get to the bottom of it once and for all.

I feel her pain because over the last few years I have become intolerant of coffee, cocoa, peaches, tea, lemongrass, apples and cashew nuts to name the ones that I can remember. My symptoms include headaches, irritability, wind, acne, insomnia and a bright red rash (mainly on my arms and legs). According to the allergy nurse if you are pre-disposed to intolerances you need to ensure you don’t eat the same food more than twice in one day otherwise you are likely to become intolerant of it – e.g. if you had toast for breakfast, then pasta for lunch you can not so much as look at a breadcrumb for the rest of the day.

It’s a real pain the butt, and I’ve had it with exclusion diets! Which is why I have embarked on GAPS, in a bid to wave goodbye to my food sensitivities for good! You can read the full story here:

My GAPS Journey

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39 Replies to “The all consuming world of food sensitivities”

  1. […] starch or commercial dairy. The reason behind myself and my children doing GAPS is mainly down to food intolerance. GAPS has been known to cure all sorts of auto-immune disease and psychological problems though, […]

  2. […] eldest has had issues with food since she was a newborn baby and reacted to cows dairy coming through my breast milk. We received […]

  3. […] habits of yesteryear, and how moderation never featured. I could talk about my merry-go-round with food intolerance and how moderation has not been enough to heal, so action in the form of GAPS is taking place […]

  4. […] from their company. I was with my 5yo who usually can’t have these things because of her allergies, but this was raw food. Which means vegan, unprocessed, refined sugar free and organic. None of […]

  5. […] then in 2012 we went one step further and eliminated all grains. Between this and the combined food sensitivity list of our family I’m forced to make almost all our food from scratch whether I like it or […]

  6. […] Xmas 2012 I knew I’d developed new food intolerances, so went to see our allergy nurse a few days before new years. She delivered a huge blow: I’d […]

  7. […] was fascinating and made so much sense to me. I’ve suffered with food intolerance forever, and have been playing merry go round with elimination diets for years now. The book claims […]

  8. […] I am dairy intolerant, and like to watch my sugar intake, even really good quality organic ice cream with just a handful […]

  9. […] and came across the cake I made for her first birthday. I tweaked it a little to accommodate her allergies, but the end result was a fabulously moist and delicious fudgey […]

  10. […] rigidly to GAPS and enjoy the healing it brings to my body. I’m determined to see the back of food intolerance by the end of the intro diet (which should also coincide with the end of summer). Check out my […]

  11. Oh hon sorry to hear about that! Nuts are a funny one, because a reaction can come from no-where but be really nasty. Hope your dad’s isn’t too bad. Perhaps switch to a non-bio eco brand for washing? They are much more gentle on the skin – method do a really good one xx

  12. It is so tough to see kids unwell and of course yourself, reacting to new foods too. My Dad had a terrible reaction out of nowhere to brazil nuts recently (scary) and my eldest child came out in the most awful rash last week due to a change in washing powder. Hope things get better for us all x

  13. […] When I took him for his 8 week check up I intended on being in and out as quickly as possible. The HV was asked how I was coping with the sleep deprivation, so I told her it was fine because I’d hardly slept in three years. Imagine my surprise when instead of her eyes glazing over – as I’d come to expect from these types of conversations – she wanted to know the details. So I told her the full story of my troubled little big girl. (you can read about it here if you like) […]

  14. Thanks very much Mel, I hope so too! When we measured and weighed my little one for the referral appt she is only 2nd percentile for height, and 20th for weight 🙁 Really hoping to get in front of someone this month xx

  15. Le Coin de Mel says:

    Another great post! It is so difficult seeing your little ones suffer from allergies. I cannot believe you have had to wait so long to see a paediatrician… Hope he/she helps. x Mel

  16. […] 100g pecan nuts 100g walnuts 100g grated mature cheddar (optional – I use goats cheese due to dairy intolerance) 100ml vegetable stock 50g finely chopped shallots 50g chopped sundried tomatoes tbsp dried mixed […]

  17. […] with food – or more to the point – what was in it! After my 4yo was diagnosed with her corn intolerance, I realised what a minefield it would be cutting it out of her diet. She isn’t anaphylactic […]

  18. […] is another free from cake using desiccated coconut and ground flaxseed in place of flour. I’m a sucker for a […]

  19. […] written before about our eldest being a rather challenging child. Food intolerances, poor sleeping and bad behaviour have ruled our lives for the best part of two and a half years […]

  20. […] also have a strong suspicion that our boy has reflux. I won’t be making the same mistakes I did with 4yo though, and have already been putting my reflux knowledge to good use. Just hoping […]

  21. […] morning. Then we went for lunch, without having to assess every single ingredient to ensure it was allergy friendly. The smallest things in life really do bring the biggest smiles in our house. Then by the time […]

  22. […] spoken before about my daughter’s long list of food intolerances. For the most part it just means eating naturally, and steering clear from anything processed. Not […]

  23. […] most gluten free recipes call for a GF flour mix (which all contain maize which my 4yo is highly intolerant of) I generally use various combinations of nuts instead. My favourite is the cashew because they […]

  24. […] do love a good mince pie, but finding one that is dairy free and low in sugar is neigh on impossible so I always make my own. If I’ve got loads of time […]

  25. […] passes me by. Also, because non-home made sweets and chocolates are out of the question due to my 4yo’s allergies I was on the look out for an advent calendar […]

  26. […] past has ended in disaster. Although I’m a keen cook, I’m a rubbish baker. I invariably have to change too many ingredients and always mess things up. I spoke to my friend and got her to painstakingly […]

  27. […] the mend, and big one went back to school the next day. Since uncovering the minefield that is her intolerance of corn and all it’s derivatives, over the counter child medicines became a thing of the past. This […]

  28. […] par for the course. My particular juggle right now comes in the form of severe sleep deprivation, food intolerances and general pregnancy ailments. Whilst working part time and doing everything that running a house […]

  29. […] also decided to treat ourselves to pizza at the utterly fabulous Franco Manca. Italian is usually a no-no for us but these guys have goats and buffalo milk cheese. I completely agree with the rave reviews, […]

  30. […] just had to join in. One of my challenges in the kitchen is catering to the needs of the various food intolerances that my family have, and usually involves lots of substituting if I’m following a recipe. […]

  31. […] more than I’d like to spend. I have additional factors to consider though – such as food intolerances and a low sugar diet. My cookies contain the five ingredients pictured above, but it’s a […]

  32. […] myself and my eldest both suffer from food intolerances I do lots of label reading and mainly cooking from scratch. People often question how I find the […]

  33. […] and sleep books gaining insights that have lead to a mild reprieve. We have our daughter on a very strict diet so she is not eating anything she is intolerant of. We limit the amount of TV she watches, and […]

  34. […] of organic ingredients, unfortunately they aren’t an option for us until we get her food intolerances under control (or better still, see the back of them […]

  35. […] maker for a complete steal of £20 – she was buying one for herself and thought of me as we can’t eat dairy in my house. I did what I often do in times like these, got blinded by the idea of a bargain and […]

  36. Thanks honey, that’s really kind. How old is your brother now out of interest? We’re living in hope for the seven year cycle 😉

  37. We have similar issues Judith as my daughter’s worst one is corn – which I didn’t realise until we had to start avoiding it – is in just about anything that has been processed. There are almost a hundred ingredients made out of corn and you would never ever know as they are given weird and wonderful names such as ‘maltodextrin’ and ‘ascorbic acid’

    It’s fine to a point, but heartbreaking at times… hope your friends little boy outgrows his too. Thanks for commenting x

  38. Oh bless you, this sounds like such hard work. I remember that my Mum kept my brother off dairy because of his eczema and as a result he used to have soya instead. This lead on to a nut allergy and now he carries and epipen. It isn’t easy but you are a great Mum. Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x

  39. judithkingston says:

    Wow, that must be so hard to keep all the allergens out of her diet. What are all the things she is allergic to/intolerant of? I have a friend with a son who has a fructose intolerance. It means he can’t have fruit, tomatoes, any root vegetable or anything with sugar in it, as sucrose breaks down into glucose and fructose. (You learn something new every day). Then it turned out he had a dairy intolerance as well. He is so good about it, though, and completely accepts that he has to have special separate food and usually can’t have what’s being served at parties etc. His mum is a great cook and makes special cakes for him to take to events, made with glucose instead of sugar. It seems like such a tremendous hassle, and so limiting for one so young. I do hope your daughter grows out of it in 3 years’ time!

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