Food Allergies

(My daughter and my dad in his 'fast car')

My daughter was originally diagnosed with food allergies in 2009. Beginning in 2008, she started experiencing terrible GI symptoms, including a distended stomach that was very painful, vomiting multiple times a day, constipation, and refusal to eat. Our pediatrician sent us to a pediatric GI doctor in hopes that he might be able to help us. 

From there, we began creating a medical team for my daughter of a pediatrician, pediatric gastroenterologist, and a pediatric allergist. We all worked together to track down the causes of her symptoms, which turned out to be food allergies. Over the years, we have switched doctors a few times to find ones that fit our medical philosophy and that perform the tests we feel are necessary. She has had three patch tests, one prick test, and lots of blood tests. The tests produce long lists of foods she is likely allergic to, which makes feeding her a big challenge. 

After lots of trial and error, many doctors appointments, various allergy and blood tests, tons of phone consults, and lots of tears, we have found a food system that works for her! In 2011, we put her on an elimination diet. This means that we only feed her foods we know to be 100% safe for her. Then, we begin introducing one food at a time for two weeks as a food challenge. I have created a spreadsheet that details the foods she can eat based on these food challenges. 

As we introduce a new food, we hold our breath and hope for the best! We do not change any toothpaste, skin products, laundry detergents, etc. We do not travel during a food challenge. We have our epi-pens ready, and we sit and watch. When she does have an allergic reaction to a new food (such as peas), it takes her body 3 to 4 weeks to recover. During that time, she is uncomfortable and not very interested in food. 

To help make the food challenges a little bit more 'friendly' for her, I present 3 options for her to choose to food challenge. I choose these options based on her allergy test results, what is in season, and what is readily available at parties and friends' houses or restaurants.

Food allergies are incredibly frustrating because they often change, the testing isn't always accurate, and the "cures" are elimination. Conveniences that I once didn't recognize as conveniences are no more. There is no eating out. There is no simple eating at a friend's house. We carry food at all times for most contingencies (even a car breaking down without a working cell phone; this one my husband rolls his eyes at)!

My constant awareness of every morsel going into her body has resulted in an education of food: preparing, growing, buying, etc. I've learned a lot, but I have so much more to learn. As I've learned about food, I've learned about many aspects of healthy and unhealthy things touching my life. I invite you to join my journey and maybe start one of your own! Welcome!

Traveling with Allergies