Posted by: thiscait | May 2, 2009

Food Woes

Teddy has been congested for most of the winter.  Possibly just something to be expected, given the timing of his birth and the fact that he has an older sister who goes to school three mornings a week.  Going with the congestion has been wheezing of varying severity–sometimes just something to watch, sometimes requiring breathing treatments.  He has had one ear infection.  Possibly it’s just unfortunate luck and will clear up once we emerge from the worst of cold season.

However, he also has reflux and has been on prevacid since November.  Recently it seems to be getting worse, resulting in miserable nights of constant nursing and screaming, and an increase in spitting up, which he’d practically stopped doing with the addition of prevacid.  Possibly he’s just outgrown his dose of prevacid (he is a BIG baby), so we’ve increased that, and it’s too soon to tell if that’s all it is, but often kids have outgrown reflux problems by this age, which makes us wonder a bit.

Since starting solids, he’s had frequent rashes on his face.  It seems possibly to be connected to eating wheat, but after being off wheat for a bit, it’s back on his cheeks today.  Sensitive skin?  Copious drool?  Something else?  Who knows.  He’s also been somewhat constipated since starting solids, which could be normal or could be something else.

Though there are possible explanations for each of these things, the combination of factors makes us wonder if there’s some sort of food allergy or sensitivity going on.  It’s been suggested to us several times that Jen could consider giving up dairy to see if that helped, and we’re seriously considering finally trying that.  But we’re also wondering if we’re going to that effort, if wheat should be removed, given that Teddy seems to react to it, and Jen had a sensitivity/allergy to it as a child.  If so, should they be removed simultaneously and added back in individually to see if they trigger reactions?  Or should they be run as completely separate experiments?  It seems to us that doing elimination of both and then testing them individually makes the most sense, but we’ve never had to do this before, so don’t really know. And some people say that most problems are resolved just by removing dairy, so is it worth it to take it a step farther?

And, if Jen does eliminate both, what DOES she eat, given that we are also vegetarian?  We also need things that are easy, quick, and cheap.


  1. FWIW, as someone who recently gave up all gluten and dairy, our local whole-foods-like grocery store had some amazing rice bakery products and rice pasta. I found rice muffins and rice-based pancake mix that I like better than their wheat-based counterparts.

    Alas, they don’t always fall under the category of “cheap” (but some do), but they are just as easy and quick as wheat products.

  2. Everything else. Rice, potatoes, and corn are easy and delicious–we do lots of tacos/wraps. There’s always quinoa and teff if you’re feeling more ambitious. Dropping dairy was easier for meals at home than for lunches, since most of our quick/easy food choices are cheesy or yogurty.

    It’ll be easier to see what he’s reacting to if you cut it all out at once and add them back in independently. It’s one experiment because it’s one outcome, and you know they might both be doing it.

  3. Make a quick list of things you CAN eat vs. what you can’t. When our daughter was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, I mourned for weeks over what she couldn’t have until another food allergic mom told me to write down a list of everything she COULD have. Really changed my perspective and made meal planning much easier. I wrote down everything, from strawberries to rice to soy milk.

    I also agree to cut it all out at once for at least 2 weeks, it sometimes can take that long to clear out of your system. Then add back in one at a time and watch for his reaction. I hope he isn’t allergic to anything, and its just simply residual cold season stuff! Good luck!

  4. I had a similar problem with Charming Boy, and stopped dairy while BF. It helped a lot. Since then, both of my kids also tested highly sensitive to casein (the protein in milk vs. lactose the sugar), wheat/spelt/rye/gluten, and eggs, so they are now GFCF and egg free. We’ve been on this since Sept. 2008. Both kids are gaining weight faster than ever before and inches of height. 🙂

    GFCF is not cheap but it’s do-able if you plan ahead. I wish you had a Trader Joe’s nearby. They have introduced tons of great (where great=affordable) GFCF foods. We do about 50/50 between there and Whole Foods.

    I also concur about eliminating both for at least three weeks before re-introducing. Charming Boy had severe reflux and colic his entire first year, that improved somewhat once he started Axid. I *wish* I had followed the advice I’d been given to eliminate more from my diet that just dairy. You know what they say about hindsight….

    Wishing you luck in your experiments.

  5. My wife recently gave up wheat due to some longstanding digestive problems. It was challenging at first, but we’re doing well at it now, and she feels so much better it is totally worth it. Rice and quinoa are great, as is millet, which we like for breakfast. We’ve really enjoyed “The Gluten Free Gourmet” cookbook for baking recipes. Not sure if you eat fish or not (we do, but not other meats), but that makes an excellent fast dinner. We also now have a two week meal plan (inspired by you two, and unfortunately not dairy free) that my wife posted about
    that might give you an idea about what we actually eat day to day. Also, I know you two really watch food costs, and we only have to buy very minimally at the more expensive “natural” stores, primarily rice pasta, and a few fancy flours for baking, but everything else comes from the cheapest store we can find.

  6. Stupid question, but before limiting your food, can you get a referral to an allergist?

    Milk allergies tend to manifest in bloody, mucousy stool, and wheat, alas, is a far more common allergen. I’ll send you a few links to some of my face wheat-free recipes.

    (poor boo, poor you guys!)

  7. I’m sorry to hear you’re dealing with all this. We went the whole nine-yards with Will (reflux, outgrowing med dosage, screaming, nursing/eating aversions, and on and on).

    Turns out that Will is lactose intolerant. He can handle processed dairy (yogurt, cheese) but not ice cream and we’ve just never tried straight up milk. We also had to eliminate eggs in my diet. Those caused A LOT of the spit up. I never did cut out dairy other than milk and ice cream because together with eggs that seemed to solve things.

    Carrots and something else odd also caused reactions but were outgrown. It was a hard and weird time and I’ve blocked some of that out.

    I hope Teddy is feeling better soon and wish you all luck in finding a happy solution.

  8. This is a wonderful blog that covers mothers that have to give up dairy and gluten. They have great recipes and are a great resource:

  9. new to posting (and blogging!) but long-time lurker. hi!

    i did the elimination diet a few years ago when i thought that i might have some similar allergies. for me, it was easiest to take it all out and notice the differences without it (it= sugar, gluten (not incl spelt), dairy, and soy). and then put them back in very slowly and generously spaced.

    in the long run, the things that really made it totally doable included:
    *books: What to Eat When You Can’t Eat Anything; Susan O’Brien’s Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Cooking; Gluten Free Gourmet series
    *rice pasta- try a couple brands before settling. i found my favorite and still think it has a better texture than white pasta.
    *my wife- she did it with me and we ended up actually getting into it and i still say, it’s one of the healthiest and best i have ever felt in my life. don’t go it alone!

    good luck! hopefully the cleanse/ elimination will be enough to take care of everyone’s ailments and putting things back will be painless.

    p.s. as an acupuncture student, i just have to say: you could try bringing him to a licensed acupuncturist in your area. food allergies are a pretty easy problem to solve and kids respond very quickly to treatment (which usually doesn’t involve needles when it’s kids).

  10. The first week I went dairy (mostly) free was hard, but if did, really, get better.

    Soy yogurt is pretty good. I like Stoneyfield Farm better than Silk, but they have milk-based cultures, so if you are giving up even trace dairy, they are out. Soy yogurt with granola could be a good breakfast. You could look into making your own granola. It might be cheaper. It’s definately better.

    I also found that I ate a lot of eggs (and fish). I don’t know if I was replacing protein from milk, or if it was just an ease thing.

    Mayonaisse is dairy free and fulfilled some of the creaminess I missed (in artichoke dip, egg salad, etc). Earth balance isn’t cheap, but it’s pretty decent in baked goods instead of butter.

    You can eat a lot of fruit. Maybe do more stirfries with rice. Lots of stuff will be in season soon which should help. Dark chocolate helps too. Avocado is good instead of sour cream with bean and tortilla dishes.

    So Delicious (by Purely Decadent) has a coconut milk based “ice cream” that is worth eating. The others (Soy Dream, Rice Dream, etc etc) just made me want really ice cream more.

    The difference it made in Karl was obvious almost immediately which made it do-able. Also, 4 days after I stopped dairy he slept 7.5 hours straight which convinced me I was on the right track. Of course, he hasn’t done that since, but at least he stopped crying at night. The screaming/nursing/arching was terrible, and that has only come back when I had cheese.

  11. I just did a whole wheat free thing, and realized that for me it was barley, which is also malt or maltodextrin (can be in breads). I can actully eat wheat, but no barley (hence my severe beer allergy! mystery solved!)

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