Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dairy and Carrots and Soy Oh My

Acid Reflux, Asthma, Common Variable Immune Deficiency, Eczema, Food Allergies, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, and so on.

Guess which of the above mentioned conditions caused me to shed tears first? 

Ding, ding, the prize goes to those of you who said food allergies (don’t worry I’ve shed tears over the others, but some have taken me longer to fully comprehend).

Ry’s first food allergy diagnosis was to milk protein, which sounded simple enough; we just needed to avoid dairy and any of the tricky sounding names that mean dairy on food packages.  I had dropped her off at preschool with the intention of doing some grocery shopping and cooking with our new lifestyle in mind that evening after I picked her up.  I literally got to aisle 3 before I started sobbing. I don’t mean a dainty feminine little sniffle, I mean the full blown sobs, runny nose, blood red eyes kind of cry.  Every single item I picked up seemed to have dairy or casein or some dairy byproduct in it, and I started to wonder what a vegetarian (remind me to tell you about the third grade field trip one of these days if you want the backstory on that decision) could cook and get a 4 year old to actually eat.

I picked Ry up from school that day and she wanted Chinese for dinner so we drove to the Chinese Buffet a block or so from our condo.  I learned 2 things during that meal that sustained us for the days or weeks or months to come: the Chinese Buffet was pretty reasonably priced for the 2 of us, and it is super easy to avoid dairy in Chinese food.  So that was our strategy until I could find my cooking feet.
Thanks to the suggestion of a colleague, we discovered soy and soy products and were back in the game again.

We learned pretty quickly that Caden was allergic to dairy-based formulas so we suavely switched him to a soy formula only to learn that he didn’t tolerate soy either.  He ended up on a pre-digested hypoallergenic infant formula (yummy, huh?) and I was left once again thinking what in the heck are we going to eat?

But hey, there are plenty of fruits and veggies out there in the world to try so we’d be adventuresome and what a cool diet I imagined that we’d have.

Then we introduced to Caden to his first baby food, and discovered very violently and rudely that he has an anaphylactic reaction (extreme life threatening allergy) to…………carrots.  This quickly ruled out many other root vegetables and cross pollenated foods like celery and kiwi.  Now before you say it, yes I know carrots are supposed to be a hypoallergenic food---I’ve heard that a time or two.  But I can also tell you without a doubt that we immediately know if any amount of carrot or beta carotene has found its way into the food by the reaction that Caden starts to have.  Carrots are a trick one though because they are cheap and plentiful and apparently make a great natural food coloring and bulk substance in everything from banana cakes to soups to sauces to crackers. 

Don’t worry it gets better.  Thanks to my own IBS we have had to move to a gluten free diet and for my husband’s health we watch carbs.  Caden is on a low sodium diet while Ryley is on an extremely high sodium diet.  And to add insult to injury Caden’s fruit intake has to be restricted because he doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme that breaks fruit sugars down.  And then there’s the feeding aversion that we have battled compliments of Caden’s sensory processing disorder that further limits texture, temperature, and color. 

Are we having fun yet?

Seriously, it seems overwhelming when you listen to it and honestly as I type it all out, I’m starting to sweat a little, but you adapt.  That initial food allergy broke me down because I didn’t know how to adapt yet.  Each new food allergy certainly sends us back to the drawing board and we all read package labels with the best of them.  We try to avoid eating out whenever possible and we get the amazing opportunity to try grains and products that we probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Heck I thought  chia seeds were just for growing my cute animal shaped plant during the holidays; who knew they were tasty and healthy?  Same goes for sunflower butter and a whole host of other foods. 

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t always easy but it does make me giggle a little when someone asks if there are any food allergies.  Uh yea, let me tell you a little about Caden’s tale.