Why Allergen Free?

It started with my son's severe eczema at 4 months old. The eczema on his face would get so bad, that it would be open and weepy. People would make comments about his cute red cheeks and I would just smile, all the time knowing that this wasn’t normal. We took our son to a dermatologist, a pediatric dermatologist, tried expensive medicines (that I hated to use because of the steroids) a couple of times a day and nothing completely took it away. I asked both dermatologists if something that I was eating could be getting to him from nursing and both said it wasn’t possible (now I know that it IS possible). It was so frustrating to watch him be so uncomfortable.

At 7 months old, I introduced whole organic yogurt, and he immediately broke out with hives all over his body. It took me a minute to process what was going on, because I had never seen anyone have an allergic reaction nor did I expect MY child to have one. I got on the phone with the triage nurse from our pediatrician’s office and was told to give him Benedryl and watch him. We were asked to come in to see our pediatrician the next day, and he recommended a blood test. A few days later, he called and said, “Brody is allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts and wheat.” I said “Ok.” He then asked if I was going to continue to nurse him; I immediately said, “Yes, of course” and he replied, “You know that what he is allergic to, is in everything?” At that moment, I knew that what I had been eating was hurting him. I cut those allergens out of my diet completely and went on the “Brody diet.” His eczema went way, he was a happier baby and I was overwhelmed, yet relieved to find out what the root of the problem was.

After I learned a little more and had more time to digest what was going on, we decided to see an allergist and do a skin test to compare it to the blood test. Milk, and eggs showed up positive on the skin test (which matched the blood test) and wheat and peanuts were questionable. Because of this result, we were told we could introduce wheat slowly into Brody’s diet; he seemed to do alright (I do think that he might have a sensitivity to it though). Since peanuts are life threatening, Brody will be peanut free for the next few years and see what happens with tests, etc.

Being allergen free was a dramatic change. No one else in our family has food allergies, and we were completely immersed into this new lifestyle. I was on the "Brody diet" for 6 months, since I had decided to continue to nurse. I am glad I chose to do this; it forced me to find safe foods and recipes that tasted good. I am still working on making his life as yummy as I can; and honestly, some of the “Brody safe” food is actually better than the allergen-filled ones. Reading labels has made our family so much more aware of what is actually in the food that we are eating, and we have cut out a lot of “junk” and are eating more whole foods and food with fewer ingredients (which is much healthier). This has definitely been the silver lining since he was diagnosed with food allergies.

Brody has had a couple a scares with his food allergies.  One was when he grabbed his older brothers cup of milk and took a sip and immediately had problems breathing (we now do not have milk in the house...lesson learned...it's not worth it).  We also did a baked egg challenge at our allergist's office (which is at a hospital) and Brody started sneezing continuously, started acting lethargic, lips started turning blue and he was given epinephrine, threw up and started to act better.  We also had an incident at a restaurant that was supposed to be "safe." There was a cross contamination issue and an hour later (which we did not expect) starting coughing, wheezing and had problems breathing.  VERY SCARY.  Needless to say, we don' eat out often.

Along the way, I have met other moms who are doing what we are, encouraged that a lot of vegan food is safe for Brody and have met also bakers who make delicious treats.  I love that being allergen free can be healthy and delicious!

This blog documents our journey. I hope that this information will encourage you that you can eat good food and be allergen free!

The recipes I share are always free of milk, eggs and peanuts, but I have found that a lot of the time, they are free of some of other 8 allergens also.  Since we were wheat free for 6 months, there are products and recipes on the blog that are wheat free/GF and I have found a lot of times that simple substitutions can be made to make a meal allergen free. 
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