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Making It Work. {On Food Allergies}

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Making It Work. {On Food Allergies}

{I am about to share and write about our experience with food allergies. This is not a one size fits all sort of situation, this is our situation. We are not doctors. We just do what works for us and most of all, E.}

july2011 001
At breakfast a last week I caught E's reaction on the camera to her very own Dora yogurt

Surprise, surprise, soy yogurt doesn't come in packages with characters like Dora or Scooby Doos all over the containers and Miss E has really been having a hard time about it. My dad suggested getting some stickers and decorating her yogurt. Obviously you see her reaction.

I've never seen her eat her soy peach yogurt faster.

Lately, she is becoming more aware of what she can and can't have and it's sad some days.

We took a special trip to Trader Joe's last weekend where we stocked up on some dairy-free soy ice cream sandwiches and some other treats that are for her only.

She calls them "Evie treats" and says "no sharing."

For those that don't know or missed this, E has what is considered a non-traditional dairy allergy. This means she does not eat or drink: milk, yogurt, cheese or ice cream. She can eat things like crackers that have milk in the baked ingredients, she can't however eat any cheese flavored crackers or chips. {Another form of this allergy eliminates even baked dairy/whey.}

We'd previously only had her on a dairy free margarine but lately, like last weekend at a movie, I let her have butter on her popcorn just to see what would happen. And the other night at H's soccer she snuck a Go-gurt.

Her allergist {one of the best pediatric allergists in the midwest, no joke. I am happy to pass his name along if interested, just email me.} had previously suggested that she would outgrow this by age 3 and the plan had been to not challenge her system or re-test until age 3 but I think we might try sooner.

E's reaction to dairy is not life threatening at all which is why we can challenge her system. She can, however, get sick if she still can't tolerate it. {She hasn't yet.} She also could possibly be more suscepitble to ear infections as her dairy allergy and ear infections seemed to closely correlate until she was dairy free.

I get asked almost weekly about food allergies and for advice. The best advice I can give is to first, ask your doctor's opinion. Start taking notes of symptoms, reactions, diet.
Second, trust your gut. I knew in February 2010 that things were not ok and after having E on antibiotics for so long with no respite I knew there were other things going on. Her growth rate plummeted (something we still struggle with), her symptoms became worse in days.

Third, see an allergist. They are trained experts on the subject. Every kid and allergy situation is different and they are the ones who can talk to you about what kind of possible allergy (or not) that you're dealing with.

Fourth, be consistent. If you decide to make a diet modification to see if certain behaviors or issues cease (ie excema, vomiting, hyperactivity, ear infections...) go cold turkey and stick to it to watch for results.

I'm not sure what the future holds for E and her dairy allergy. I'm beginning to feel ok with challenging her system a little bit and seeing how her body reacts and moving forward. Obviously if she starts reacting and getting sick, having excema or even ear infections, we'll know that we need to continue her diet the way it is. But maybe, just maybe, she'll be able to move past this, sooner than later.

When she does, I really can't wait to take her to the ice cream store and get her the biggest ice cream cone ever.

You can bet, I'll share the photo.

{For another bloggin' mama's food allergy experience, visit Marketing Mama, who's daughter has several food allergies that are much more severe than E's.}


Blogger Erin said...

I've shared your experience with a few friends who have struggled with the whole ear infection game. I feel like doctors are too quick to jump to surgery when there are other possible solutions like diet changes to try first.

July 18, 2011 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Awesome solution to the character yogurt issue. My son is 23 and has the more severe reactions to dairy (milk, etc and also whey and casienate). He has not had a severe reaction if he ingests some accidentally anymore, but testing shows he is still allergic. I hear you on the sad thing. There is a grieving that takes place. The allergists at Mayo & the Twin Cities have followed him for years. Food Allergy Network has also been helpful to me over the years. He's 6'4" and he's doing fine 23 yrs later :)

July 18, 2011 at 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Dadio's said...

She is a trooper! and a happy one mostly. Love to all.


July 18, 2011 at 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Jes said...

Thankfully we are adaptable and we learn what needs to be done to keep healthy and learn to live with and survive these struggles. As a 29 year old who has dealt with food allergies her entire life, I know exactly how you and E feel. I agree with 'Dadio' - she is a trooper! And so are you ;)

July 18, 2011 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

The picture is just priceless - that's awesome.

July 19, 2011 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

I totally sympathize with Miss E. It's especially tough on hot days like today, when all you want is a nice ice cream cone! Thank goodness for Izzy's and their delicious soy ice cream!

July 19, 2011 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Marketing Mama said...

Samara - thanks for sharing your story and how you are making it work. Love the stickers on the yogurt idea. I try to make the foods as equal as possible between my kids and serve non-dairy substitutes for my kido w/milk allergy. So far I haven't had that issue with the characters - I avoid things that are super fun that the other one can't have. For example, I only buy cookies and treats they can both have or there is a sub.

Alex can have Hershey bars & Avery has Enjoy Life rice milk bars. If she couldn't have those, I wouldn't buy them for Alex either (except when he & I were out for example).

At movies I bring popcorn for her, but still order popcorn for me & Alex - pizza - I make hers special and the other 1/2 with cows milk cheese and/or get delivery. But she always gets pizza too...

Anyhow, it sounds like you are adjusting well and managing... :)
Thanks for the link to my blog as well. xo

July 19, 2011 at 8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just Love the look on her face !! Great idea Grandpa about the stickers !!

Love You All
Auntie Laurie

July 22, 2011 at 10:09 AM  

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