Friday, January 28, 2011

ID’ing the problem and implementing the solution

The first visit with the ND was a success in that she got a good look at the eczema and discussed a couple ways of determining the cause. She told me about a blood test that checks for food allergies or sensitivities but while it's not too bad for an adult, could be traumatic for a small child. She also said that many allergies are genetic and she could try testing me to see if anything shows up and we could kind of translate the results to Kate. Since I'd finally found a doctor Kate will allow near her, I stepped up to take the blood test. While awaiting the results, she had me write down what she eats for a couple of days and identify when Kate started eating solid foods and what she ate at what age. Well, we got the results back for me and as the doctor said, I was "very boring". NOTHING showed up. However, we did take a closer look at the food calendar and found that gluten/wheat was introduced around the time her eczema showed up. BINGO!

My first reaction was “Oh, crap!” but immediately I realized, this isn’t so bad. I have a friend with Celiac so I’ve been conscious of gluten-free foods and the increasing availability in your average grocery store. I’m also not working so I have the time to make her stuff from scratch. I was also THRILLED to have something to go on. I had an answer!

The doctor told me to take her off gluten for 3 months before checking in and it could be a couple weeks before I notice a change.  It took about a week before I was able to completely eliminate gluten from her diet, between finding subs for her favorite snacks, mastering gluten-free bread, and restocking shelves. But I started removing it when I could, so it wasn’t an abrupt transition.

As soon as she was entirely off gluten, I noticed the eczema clearing up. It was wonderful! After a couple months I had her spend a weekend on the old diet and about a week later I saw little flare-ups, so it definitely was the gluten.  The doctor also recommended Kate take Omega-3 and a daily vitamin with extra vitamin D, since she still has very dry skin and we live in a cold, dry climate. 

She didn't have as hard a time transitioning to the new foods as I did. She was still young enough to just eat what was in front of her. She had her old fav's but I just lied and said they were all gone. Come on, you can't reason with a 2 year old!

Just as I’d gotten used to Kate eating all the same foods as her dad and I and shopping for the family, I was now buying other foods just for her again. We typically eat whole foods like fresh or frozen veggies, brown rice or potatoes and a protein for dinner as a family so our menu wasn’t really shaken up; the hardest thing was the portable snacks she was used to while we were out and about. Gone were the days of Goldfish and Cheerios. Goodbye Teddy Grahams! Welcome back rice cakes and apple sauce!

It took a while to find the GF Annie’s mac and cheese and figure out which bread mix made the best PB&J sandwiches and which GF pretzels tasted the least like cardboard (Glutino! Very buttery tasting, but Snyder’s are pretty good, too, and less expensive), but I finally found a rhythm that kept everyone happy and healthy. My husband still makes his sandwiches on regular whole wheat bread and snacks on wheat sticks and I have my wheat crackers, because let’s face it, the GF foods are expensive and if you don’t HAVE to eat it, it helps save money.

She is very adventurous when it comes to food, she'll pop an entire jalapeno if you don't warn her first, so I feel bad when she wants to try something and I have to say no.  I just inform her that it is "itchy bread" (because the eczema made her itch) and occasionally let her have a tiny taste as long as I know it isn't something she'll fall in love with and want again and again.  (This girl may never know the true joy of a Pillsbury Cinnamon Roll.)  For this reason I try to avoid eating in front of her anything she can't have, but the reality is she lives in a world where she can't eat everything and has to just accept the fact or the consequences.

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