Category: Julie

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Our daughter got an invitation to a birthday party from a friend at school today (perfect timing for this blog). This is terribly exciting! She told her uncle about 10 times tonight that she’s going to this friend’s party. We have gone to a few birthday parties since learning all our food allergies. It’s a little extra work for mom and dad, but still quite fun and do-able. I asked, while RSVP’ing, what food will be served so we can bring a matching alternative for our daughter. This friend’s mom graciously and promptly replied. Yes, cake is on the menu. And now you know the origins of this website name.

 

Actually, my sister came up with the name (for reasons described above). We plan to blog together on this site (once she settles after having a baby), add recipes, and other resources for our food restricted lives. Please be patient while we slowly grow the site. We will start with blogging (my husband got this part of the site up and running today) and then add other features as we are able.

 

To see previous blog posts (until we move them over to this site), please visit Walter’s Family Food Fight and Our Allergy Adventure.

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soap

 

Something I did not explain in my last post is that while my kids both have food allergies; they do not have the same food allergies. This means most nights we  make 2 versions of a meal. It also means when I pack lunches for Grandma’s house on Wednesdays, I label every single container with their initials.

 

So today I sent food with a sticker label (really scotch tape and sharpie) and soap with a verbal label. Go figure!

 

*We also have skin sensitivities.

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Our family’s allergies are complex enough that there is very little pre-packaged foods we can eat. We buy mostly raw and then make our own foods weekly/daily. We make all of our own baked goods. Pancakes, breads, muffins, cookies, crackers, etc.

 

This means we go through a lot of flour. We cannot  have wheat. This leaves other flours as our only options. My daughter and husband can have oat and almond flour. My son cannot have either of those. He can have rice and coconut flour. My husband and daughter cannot have those…You see the issue?

 

We’ve settled on using rice and oat flours as our staple flours and the adding the others in to augment, get better textures, etc. We were elated to find this 25lb bag of rice flour for $22 at a local Winco. (The other local Winco doesn’t carry it, but I haven’t asked them to either since the other store is so close.) We did not have as much luck finding cheap oat flour. It ranges around $5 – $10 per 22 oz bag.

 

My husband had a brilliant idea. He’d been really wanting a Vitamix or a BlendTec blender. He wondered if we could take oats and grind our own flour. We tried it first with a borrowed coffee grinder. It worked! So we got a deal on a BlendTec from B&P Restaurant Equipment Co. in WA and have been making our own oat flour since. We get the 25lb bag of oats and use them or grind them as we go. The oats are around $1/lb.

 

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combi-training-chopsticks-1So our son has (probably) a Systemic Nickel Allergy. Nickel is in the soil, so it is in food. Some foods have higher levels than others based on the food, the soil, etc. Nickel is in most metals found around the house and  stores and businesses in the US. Nickel is in stainless steal. Nickel is everywhere.

 

When we came to strongly suspect our son’s probable diagnosis, we bought new pots and pans (nickel free), new knives (ceramic), and started the search for nickel free flatware. We finally found some flatware. We only have 4 forks and 4 spoons. This leads to a shortage of flatware regularily.

 

We’d really rather avoid plastic when we can (harder and harder to do with a toddler). So right now, we reduce exposure to nickel as our first priority and then to plastics as the secondary priority. As a solution to this flatware shortage in our house, I learned to use chopsticks! They are cheaper, portable, and so I’m much less worried about losing or breaking a set.

 

I think this is the best solution for our son. He’ll use the forks and spoons we have when he’s able, and will use chopsticks when they are available. If we decide that the allergy is severe enough, maybe we’ll start carrying chop sticks in the car with us too.

 

So now I’m on a quest to learn how to teach a toddler to use chop sticks. I’ve only just taught myself, so I’m quite unsure how to do this with a toddler. I’ve looked on line. I have a message in to a parent who might be able to teach me to teach him. In the mean time, we have some “training” chop sticks from Daiso. I’ve seen another style with finger holes that I think I’d also like to try.

 

Any experienced parents out there who know how to teach  young children to use chop sticks?

Please excuse the poor etiquette of chop sticks sticking out of my bowl in the back ground.

UPDATE: We found another style of trainer chop sticks at Daiso yesterday.

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We’ve been feeling pretty good about how we are handling our food allergies. We even have a variety of foods both shared and individually! This is quite the improvement from a year ago. Then my husband decided to try something…

 

My husband is allergic to corn. We’ve learned that his life long depression and anger are from eating corn and legumes. He’s gotten a pretty good handle on what foods are safe, which are not, where he can eat out and when he needs to abstain. He recently has been trying to make better and more complicated bread or baked products for the family. This led to the use of xantham gum. Then we heard (or read) that xamtham gum is made from corn.

 

He decided to test it. He thought that since it’s in such small amounts in baking, maybe his system could handle it. He was smart. First, he put a couple teaspoons mixed with water onto his hand. That was it. He thought that wouldn’t provoke much (if any) reaction. He would experiment with actually ingesting it from there. He was wrong. He had a VERY STRONG reaction to the xantham gum paste on his hand. He was grumpy that evening, and was so grumpy the next morning that I took the kids and left the house 45mins early!

 

This revelation led to a new thought. Our daughter seems to have the same reactions to corn and legumes as he does. Does this mean that their moods could possibly improve even more if we ensure corn does not touch their skin as well!? This is both an exciting and a daunting thought. Exciting, because while they are doing very well, it could just be that much better, right? Daunting because corn is in EVERYTHING! This means we’re looking at toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, body soap, laundry detergent, dish detergent…

 

I’ve done some Internet searching and found huge lists of “hidden” corn names. Then (thankfully this brain can still be taught) I realized it would be easier to look up “corn free” products rather than look at every single toothpaste label in the grocery store.

 

I’ve narrowed it down to 3 toothpaste choices, 1 or 2 deodorant choices (depends on how “manly” he feels he needs to smell), have a message in to a manufacturer to see if all my soap woes can be taken care of with one base product…

 

All this has led me to think (many many many time over the past year), “What in the world did people do before the internet?!” I am overwhelmed with the thinks I didn’t know and have learned (via ineternet) and by the information I need to access safe foods and products for  my family. I actually have thanked God for Amazon.com. I ask again, what in the world did people do before the internet? I have immediate access to information, I have immediate contact with people. I don’t know how I would do this without the internet and my smart phone.

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This might be the most dreaded holiday of the school year for a mom whose  kids  have food allergies.

 

At the beginning of the school year, I went to my daughter’s class and made oat flour and then oat pancakes with her entire class. They had a good time and I hope it helped her different food be  more “exciting.”

 

I pack both their lunches and snacks every day so I do not worry much about  what they are exposed to on a daily basis. Their school is also wonderful at communicating with me and taking their allergies seriously.

 

I’ve left a stash of treats with the teachers for my daughter for days when classmates bring birthday treats. She has never complained to me about this arrangement. I think she’s content.

 

Tomorrow it is the unknown that worries me. I know the teachers will keep an eye on my daughter and what she eats. I also know they will ask all children to leave the candy alone while at school. However, a classroom full of 3 year olds is going to be bringing in loads of candy and other treats. What if someone sneaks a treat? What if my daughter’s friend convinces her to sneak a treat too?

 

Thankfully my daughter is understanding of her food needs. We will have one of “those” discussions at home tomorrow morning and in the car on the way to school too.

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We bought our daughter a tea set for Christmas and she has been oh so excited since. She and I invited her cousins and friends to a Valentine Tea Party – Fancy Nancy style. The tea party was a success. One mom shared that her daughter told her it was the “best tea party ever.”

 

We served foods that my daughter and her cousin (with similar though slightly different allergies) could eat. We had Mango Muffins (with Oat Flour, Baby Food Mangos, flax seed as egg substitute), fresh fruit, Fruit Snacks, “sandwich” bread, cold cuts, mayo (for the non-restricted guests), coconut yogurt, Pink Lemonade, and “tea” (Apple Juice).

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The following is something I’ve written for a couple separate websites. It seems blogging might reach a larger audience. So here it is!

 

In January 2011, I (wife & mom) decided I needed to really try something with Doctor to get my weight under control. I was pregnant at the time so Doctor  suggested we wait until about 6 months after the baby was born to start an elimination diet. He explained this was a good way to determine if a food allergy was making it difficult for my body to shed the weight.

Our son (infant) was born 3 weeks earlier than planned. He spent 4 days in NICU due to a lung issue. That resolved. He took a little while to gain weight. By 2 months old he was on track. Then when he was 4 months old he developed a mild, strange rash on his cheeks.

This rash spread to his whole body (scalp, face, back, stomach, diaper area, arms and legs). Doctor suggested I eliminate all dairy (our son is strictly breastfed) to see if it  helps clear the rash. I was very careful and did not have ANY dairy. Unfortunately our son’s rash got worse rather than better.

I maintained no dairy, then proceeded with the true elimination diet in January 2012. My husband  joined me in the elimination diet at this point. He was quite skeptical and frankly, pretty grumpy about it all. I held a secret hope that we’d discover a tiny, tiny relief to my husband’s lifelong depression and anger (which had intensified recently). I didn’t focus much on that hope though, because I didn’t think it would really work like that.

As a family, we did well with the Elimination Diet. We went through the normal process (hunger, “What do I eat!?,” “I’m tired of eating this,”) that everyone goes through. We both felt tired and low energy and grumpy for 10 or so days. I started losing weight quickly (to the tune of 10-15 lbs the first month). We stuck with it. I even unwittingly challenged my husband to maintain strict adherence by accusing him of trying to cheat. Our son got really bad. His rash was very red, inflamed, bleeding, oozing fluid, really uncomfortable, and gross looking. We spent days putting a wet cloth over his head to try to provide relief so he’d stop scratching. We tried different oils for his skin. We tried gentle soap, no soap, special soap. It felt like we were trying everything and looking for other possibilities. Doctor kept us on track.

 



Doctor started looking into other possibilities for our son’s rash. He started asking other professionals for any advise, similar cases, etc. We moved on to the Elimination Diet coupled with a Histamine Diet. I continue to drop weight easily. After another adjustment to the new diet, I was able to maintain workouts again at the gym.

One day Doctor sent us information on Nickel Sensitivity. The symptoms seemed to fit. We found some other personal blogs online from individuals suffering with this. The stories and symptoms seemed to fit. Doctor found a Low Nickel Diet and study from the Indian Journal of Medicine. So at this point I am on the Elimination Diet, Histimine Diet, and Low Nickel Diet. Our son is now 7 months old and his rash is bad. We performed a contact allergy test, and our son reacted to a nickel strapped to his skin. This gave some indication that Doctor was on the right track. We bought ceramic knives, wooden utensils, porcelain and nickel free pots & pans to cook with. We are beginning to realize the ramification of this possible diagnosis.
Then we stumbled upon amazing breakthroughs! My husband has realized he’s allergic to Cashews, which, Doctor informs us is a legume. So my husband cuts out all legumes. After only a week we noticed he was happier. Neither of us said anything to each other, thinking it was too good to be true and not wanting to jinx it. After another week, we started talking about it. My husband’s depression and anger are gone! After 1-2 weeks of the Low Nickel Diet, our son’s rash is improving. He looks better and he’s less itchy! Suddenly our lives are happier and easier (except frequent and complicated grocery shopping trips). We are really happy and excited. Doctor is cautiously optimistic at this point. He has done a great job at maintaining an open mind for other possibilities.

I continue the Low Nickel Diet, our son is now 9 months. Our son started looking really good after 28 days of the Low Nickel Diet. By 45 days was pretty much clear! About that same time we tried an antifungal for a rash on my chest that looked similar to a lingering redness on our son’s face. Doctor prescribed Dyflucan and we both cleared up. Our son looks fantastic!

Today is the 67th day of the Low Nickel Diet. He’s clear. We’ve been able to test about 5 foods so far. We are slowly developing a list of “safe” food and foods we have to avoid. He’s been eating safe,  pureed foods for about a month now. Doctor says we will be moving forward with different kinds of testing now. This week we will strap a nickel to his skin again and watch for a reaction. 

 



We are a little overwhelmed with what a systemic Nickel allergy means. We are taking it slow. Mostly we are very, very relieved and happy to have answers. This process has produced everything we ever dared hope for, for our health and more! Our son’s skin is better. My husband’s  depression and anger are gone. I’ve lost 52lbs. Our daughter (2 ½) has stopped having temper tantrums. My husband’s seasonal allergies are gone! My seasonal allergies are barely noticeable anymore. We are so pleased. Thank you Doctor!

December 2012
We have fallen into a nice pattern for shopping, eating, cooking, etc. Our son has remained clear as long as we maintain strict adherence to the low nickel diet. At the doctor’s orders we provoked a reaction by trying oats.This has confirmed the diagnosis in our minds (husband and I). The doctor is still keeping his mind open for other possibilities though has admitted that systemic nickel allergy seems more likely now.

I lost a total of 65lbs. My husband and daughter’s moods are under control. We are a healthy and happy family! Our daughter (3) even drew a picture at school of the family. We’re all holding hands and we’re all smiling!

It is amazing what God uses in our lives to focus us, refocus us, and bring contentment and happiness.