Friday, January 9, 2009

My Food Journey

Noah's inability to digest through my breastmilk the foods I was eating prompted me to begin a Total Elimination Diet (TED). This was not an easy decision to make, as I knew that once begun it would likely be months and months before I had a normal diet again. But after several days of my poor 4 week old son screaming and passing extremely painful gas, I just didn't know what else to do. So, I began the journey on October 7, 2008.

The TED only allows several foods for the first two weeks to allow your system and your baby's system to clear out. Then you add a new food in ONE at a time and try it for four days. If there is no reaction, the baby has "passed" that food and you can begin a new food trial. These foods can be found at:
Another good site is the Joneja Allergen Scale at:
This lists the majority of foods from highest to lowest allergen factor.

white or sweet potato
range fed turkey or lamb
cooked yellow or green squash
pear or pear juice
sea salt
olive oil

Well, give a vegetarian the above list and that is pretty scary! I seriously tried several times to eat turkey and just couldn't do it. Being raised vegetarian and thinking of meat as a dead animal is hard to reverse.

So I began the diet but also added in quinoa, a grain that is a complete protein and also the lowest on the allergen scale. I began on a Tuesday, and on Thursday morning I woke up with a red speckled rash all over my face, neck and chest. And I was itchy! I scratched, although I shouldn't have, and soon had raised welts all over my face. Since the quinoa wasn't on the original list, I assumed that must be the culprit. So I stopped eating it. Friday morning I woke up with more of a rash extending to my shoulders, down my back and chest, ears and also hundreds of little white pimples on my jawline, chin, eyelids and around my mouth. It was freaky! So that day I only ate potatoes and pears. That was a hard day, just felt icky and weak.

The next day I added in some zucchini with lunch, and noticed I was itchy again that afternoon. I had zucchini again for lunch the next day, and within an hour I had a rash and was itchy.

So, 6 days on the TED and I couldn't eat the meat, or the zucchini. I was down to potatoes, sweet potato, millet, rice, quinoa and pear. I kept at it until about a week later when Noah was still fussy, gassy and upset. I talked with Dr. Leeper from MilkWorks who advised me that some babies can't handle rice! What?! Don't take away rice! But sure enough, I cut out the rice and Noah immediately improved. In exchange over the next few weeks, I added in baked beans (I know! I couldn't resisit one day as I put them away from Jer and Abbie's meal, and somehow they worked.) lentils, avocados, peaches, and then bananas. Eight - 12 days later I took a leap and added in carrots, onion and celery at the same time. Thank goodness those all passed! Then I could make a "stir-fry" or a potato soup. Then sunbutter, made from sunflower seeds. Again over the next weeks I added in mushrooms, garlic powder and tried different gluten free flours. No flours would work, which was discouraging.

My theory was to look at the scale and assume that I should safely be able to eat everything from the middle down. I tried to never add in more than one food at a time since if Noah did react I wouldn't know what he was reacting to! I also tried to really think about what would affect my quality of eating....what could I actually make SOMEthing out of, like a dish.

By Thanksgiving, I was also eating broccoli and green beans, which Noah then promptly failed. He still hasn't been able to tolerate green beans, but we are good with broccoli. It's been such a hard thing, and I have been sick many, many days because my nutrition was so inadequate. I have discovered that I feel the best when I try to eat a little bit of most of my available foods every day. So, the journey continues. It's hard and I wish I could stop almost every day, but honestly where do you go from here? We've tried several formulas to no avail and what else can I do? Before I successfully added in rice and broccoli I was getting pretty sick. Headaches, nauseated, weak, and probably TMI for most people, but was having 10-12 loose BM's a day. Defnitely not the sign of a healthy body. I had stopped my multi-vitamin because I was afraid he would react to it, and still haven't added it back in. Or calcium! I need to make those a priority........

And it's frustrating beyond belief. Abbie never nursed well and it was painful for 9 months. I had every nursing problem you could imagine with her. So I didn't really enjoy nursing, I just did it because it was best and we couldn't afford the horribly expense dairy/soy free formulas. Noah is an awesome nurser. Fast, efficient, great latch and no pain. However, I don't really get to enjoy this nursing experience either because of this horrible restrictive diet. It's really been hard, to say the least.

Foods Noah has failed:
green beans
sorghum flour
chickpeas/garbonzo beans
rice burger from Akins
rice - but I was able to add it in about 5 weeks ago, after 10 weeks without!

Foods Noah can eat:
white potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, onion, celery, broccoli, avocado, pear, peach, banana, blueberries, ketchup :-), mustard, lettuce, pickles, cucumber, rice, millet, quinoa, sugar (but not too much or he'll get really spitty) brown sugar, honey, sunflower seeds

As I can add in new foods I'll post a new update. I am desperate for a bread. We've made several GF breads and the texture and taste is just so off I don't enjoy them.

I keep praying that God will heal Noah, and enable him to eat more foods (and me too!). I just want my baby boy to be happy all the time, and not have to go through what must be some pretty awful pain. Horribly gas, green, slimy, mucousy, stringy sour smelling poops, will NOT sleep at night unless he is in our arms and often with the pacifier firmly implanted in his mouth. He has NEVER slept all night in his crib, EVER. Which means my hubby and I haven't slept good for 19 weeks either! And for me, I haven't slept good since May of 2008 when I was uncomfortable at night with my pregnancy and frequently got up to use the bathroom. Add this on top of my peripartum cardiomyopathy that I developed at 28 weeks pregnant and my body is exhausted, worn out and nutritionally depleted; still attempting to recover from the pregnancy, c-section and stress that my heart went through.

Noah is such a little trooper though, still smiling and laughing and happy most of the time when my foods aren't bothering him. It's been so hard, but such a blessing to have this child in our lives. I love you little Noah Noah!

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