Moving gives you insight…

About how crazy you are. 

(This post was written right after Easter. I have no idea why I haven’t put it up yet, but I still wanted to share these thoughts with you.)

IMG_2533 Food intolerances. They change your life. They change the way you always ate and thought about food. They make you paranoid. I was the mom putting gummy bears and apple juice in her kid’s Easter basket, and just one thing of chocolate (peanut butter cups from WholeFoods). And when you move to a new place, it just gets worse.

I annoy my husband fairly frequently about food allergies. Especially when I do things like try to find out about gluten-free options at a food truck. It was laughable really… But after spending my entire life as far back as I can remember being sick all the time, and finally starting to actually feel better (not to mention Eden’s story) excuse me if I’m a bit paranoid.

How we eat breakfast when we have no furniture yet...

How we eat breakfast when we have no furniture yet…

In Colorado though, it had become normal. All of our friends knew about our issues, and while I did talk about it far more than necessary, they all understood. They lovingly protected my daughter, making sure their kids didn’t share their snacks, or checking that she had the right sippy cup. We were shown such love in such an unlooked for place through the community we were surrounded by. Our friends went out of their way to cook things we could eat, and make treats just for us. And I cannot possibly explain to all of you how much that has meant to me over the past year and a half, as we have learned about the food intolerances Eden and I have. We knew what restaurants to go to, and what to order, without having to ask and check ingredients or ask for allergy pamphlets. No, we aren’t going to die if we eat the wrong thing (I feel truly blessed that we don’t suffer from anaphylactic reactions!) but it definitely won’t be pleasant, and I would really like to just avoid that all together.

Not to mention the fact that some things we are still trying to figure out. Just how bad is my intolerance to gluten? Milk? Will Eden ever grow out of this? There is still a lot of learning we have to do concerning all of this. But it had at least become normal. And then, obviously, we moved. Just to help me realize exactly how crazy I can be about all of this. I already felt like I was a bit of a drama queen about food insensitivities, talking about it all of the time. And frequently apologizing because I was afraid I was coming on too strong about it, all of the time…

Ha! I didn’t really grasp the fact that we were going to have to start at square one once we moved. Now we are finding new restaurants and people we have just met are graciously inviting us into their homes for an Easter get-together and dinner (!!!) and this is what I am obligated to bring up very early on. Every time. I mean, my gracious, I was just in line with a lady chatting as we ordered our breakfast from this adorable little diner, and it came up. She asked such a simple question, if we had tried their cookies yet (which were out as samples). And then she heard probably more than she bargained for about having a kid with milk allergies. But then we swapped information and last week we went to a local farmers market to visit with her family and some of their friends.

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So in this weird way, it is definitely opening our lives up to others, and we are once again being shown love in unlooked for places. As I mentioned, we were invited to an Easter celebration at someone’s house after visiting a church for the first time here. And we were so welcomed and so well loved. But since there was food being served, I had to perform my typical paranoid ingredient checking to find out if there was anything for Eden to eat (I had brought back up snacks, just in case). And they had an Easter egg hunt for the kids, which was so fun! Eden was adorable :) and she had her own special eggs haha!

But this is a very humbling realization. Because relationships are so frequently built around a meal. You open up your home to show people love and to welcome them to a new community. You feed them a meal to show that you care when they are sick, have a new baby, or have lost a loved one. This is so often how cultures across the world and throughout history have shown others love. Through food. And I have felt more loved by people caring enough for our family to help us through this and just listen to our story. Just last night we had dinner with a couple that we met at church on Sunday. They were so sweet and so welcoming! But when she invited us to dinner the other night, I explained to her our food issues, and asked if it would be easier to do something different, maybe just coffee. Instead, she told me about a recipe she just made last week for a gluten free family and said asked if we could bring a salad :)

Outfit she picked out to wear, including the shoes. I added the bow :)

 

Okay, I know I’m rambling a little bit here, so I’ll wrap this up. I just want to tell all of you thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for how you have loved our family. I never in a million years would have pictured me being this crazy mom, but here I am. And for making us dinner. Or for simply listening to me whine. This certainly hasn’t been the easiest thing but you have made it a little easier. If you know someone who has food allergies in their family, don’t be afraid to try to love them in this way. Invite them over for dinner, and welcome them into your home. Even just the invitation will be welcome. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their story, you will only get to know them a little better!

How I Became a Granola Mama: Discovering Food Allergies

So I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t written this post yet. If you have talked with me for just five minutes (sometimes less, ha!) you are probably aware that our daughter Eden has a milk allergy. It’s something that I have become very passionate about and sometimes a bit vigilante about, because its such a big part of our lives now. So I thought I would share a bit with you about the journey that has brought us here. Fair warning, it is impossible for this to not be a bit long winded or talk about baby poo.

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To help you with a little bit of background, I’ll tell you a little about myself first. When I was a baby, I had three sets of ear tubes for ear infections (dairy allergies can cause an increase in fluid/mucous buildup). When I was little they tried to diagnose me as lactose intolerant, but it didn’t help. Growing up, they said it was Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and I just had to deal with all of the GI issues. I also had iron-deficiency anemia. And then I got pregnant. I was one of those pregnant women that, instead of glowing, hated being pregnant because I was always miserable. I was nauseous pretty much the entire nine months. I ended up getting a prescription of Zofran. This quickly became my best friend. If I didn’t take it before I went to work in the morning, I would throw up once I got there.

So I ate dairy. Lots of dairy. They say that milk is supposed to help settle your stomach, right? Well, I tested that theory for sure. Milk, cheese, ice cream, mashed potatoes, milk shakes, and more cheese. It was just about the only thing I was interested in eating. And I was so incredibly sick…

Enter Eden.

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My tiny little baby was born just as beautiful as she could be. For the first few checkups I would take her to the doctor, take off her diaper for the naked weight and ask if her poos were normal. They just didn’t seem right, but I was a first time mom and they kept telling me it was fine. (Looking back, I now realize they were filled with mucous.) Then she started having reflux symptoms. She was always fussy, would only sleep on my chest or in her swing (never flat), crying after eating and a big time spit up baby. Then everything got worse. She started projectile vomiting. And then I started noticing black flecks in her poo. As a exclusively breast fed baby, her poo should be seedy yellow-green. No black flecks. I realized that was actually blood. My baby was having upper GI bleeds. She also got horrible diaper rash… So bad her skin would break open and not want to heal for weeks.

So I started doing research. What could cause all of these symptoms? I took her to the doctor after the worst vomiting episode, and she was put on Zantac for her reflux symptoms. So now she was starting to get better with the fussy, and the vomiting, but the weird poo and black flecks were still there. I started talking to friends and started wondering about a milk allergy. Not lactose intolerant, that is a bit different.

Milk is broken down into a sugar (lactose) and two proteins (casein and whey). And my kid is allergic to the proteins. Maybe lactose also, I’m not entirely sure… But the only way to actually figure this out is to cut it out of your diet. 100%. For a minimum of three weeks. Well, in December of 2012 I started cutting out dairy, but only the obvious stuff. I was still eating butter cooked into stuff and little things like that. But Eden wasn’t getting better. So I went completely dairy free in January. No cheating. No hidden butter or cream. Nothing. Three weeks later, my little girl started getting better. Her reflux symptoms decreased (they were still there and she was on medicine for it until she was about 7 months old), her poos stopped having mucous and blood in them, and her diaper rash was finally clearing up. I was thrilled!! Now don’t get me wrong, breast feeding and being dairy free is no walk in the park. It is truly a challenge…

Once she started eating solid foods, things got a bit more complicated. Now I was having to police my diet as well as hers (if you are nursing and your baby has an allergy, you can’t have *any* dairy, and Eden is especially intolerant). Every now and then, I would mess up and Eden would get sick again. Yucky diapers, horrible diaper rash. It was not a fun cycle. Not only that, but Eden’s reactions last a minimum of seven days. They could be up to three weeks long.

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I finally gave up breast feeding. It was just too much to worry about my diet making my baby so sick for so long. I stopped breastfeeding her when she turned one so that we could avoid putting her on specialty dairy-free formula (which is very expensive) and she finally got completely better! No more mommy mess-ups! No more diaper rash and yucky reactions! Oh happy day! It was the best decision. My little girl was finally healthy and not getting reaction cycles. But I wasn’t actually feeling better. While JD said that he had so much more energy, felt years younger and had lost 20lb, I still wasn’t feeling awesome GI-wise. And I started wondering if maybe I had another food intolerance. All of the signs were there. I was anemic again. My stomach bothered me a lot. Maybe I was missing something…

Well the next most common food intolerance is gluten. JD decided he wanted to go gluten-light (he doesn’t do 100% diets) which would make my gluten elimination a lot easier. So this past January we went gluten-free. And I can finally say that for the first time in 25 years, I am starting to feel better. Saturday night we did a gluten challenge. I’ll explain that a little bit later in an elimination diet post. And the result? Yep, I’m gluten intolerant. But I feel better!!! It has been a crazy journey up to this point, but JD and I feel loads healthier. We both have more energy, JD has lost 30lb in one year and is the healthiest he has been in years. Now that I am gluten-free, I am not having GI issues all the time and feel like a normal person. I’m taking iron supplements and hope to have my iron stores back to normal soon. And Eden hasn’t had a diaper rash in months.

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If all of this sounds familiar to you, you or someone in your family could be dealing with food allergies. I will have a post (hopefully soon) talking about symptom, elimination diets and resources. As well as discussing what it is that we actually eat now. Trust me, it’s a lot easier than you think it is! Also, feel free to contact me if you want to know more. Like I said, it’s something that I am very passionate about, and I know I’m not the only one that has dealt with this!