Elimination diets aren't easy. For anyone. I know this. What I didn't realize was how hard it was going to be for me to even begin.
About 3 years ago, we started realizing that our oldest child was having some issues with her skin. At first, it seemed like her skin was "sensitive"-- whatever that means. She would react poorly to different types of soap and she had some really gnarly patches of eczema. As time went on, it seemed we couldn't figure out what her triggers were and it was rather frustrating. Have you been there? Could it be this? Oh it's definitely that! Wow, look! She seems to be clearing up!
I had about had it, and then poop really hit the fan. (Side note: What? Hit the fan?) She had been having this red burn-like rash on her bottom (different than the patches), it would come and go but when it came, it was painful! Our pediatrician assured us it was because she wasn't keeping herself clean and dry and for us to consider helping her wipe after she went to the bathroom. Could this really be the issue? Such an easy fix-- although my heart did sink a bit, as I would have to take back the happy dance I did when I realized I had finally broken free of wiping her butt!
Time went by and I just wasn't convinced.
What we were convinced of was that sugar and highly processed foods made it worse. So we avoided them. Even fruit.
Things would be good. And then the rash would come back. F.
Spring of 2014 rolled around and she got a strange bite on her neck accompanied by a very high fever about two days later. Unsure if it was Lyme or not, our new and very conservative pediatrician apologized to me profusely but said that he would like to put her on 2-3 weeks of antibiotics. I partially knew about the negative effects of antibiotics on our gut, but not to the extent I know now.
And I hate Lyme. So we went for it.
A few days into the prescription, her red rash turned purple. A few more days go by and we let her have a BITE of birthday cake and she turned into a maniac. Screaming in pain that her bottom hurt. Crying. Waking in the night... the whole thing.
What does a mother do when her baby is in pain and there is nothing she can do to help? Google. Ha. No, really. We all do it, don't we? I read and I read and I read. And I ended up...
I started to think back on her life a bit. In her 3 years of living she had antibiotics at birth, she had prophylactic meds for Malaria (for our trip to Haiti) and now another round of antibiotics right around her 3rd birthday. Was this considered a lot? Could the antibiotics be contributing to the problem?
After much prayer and thought and research and frustration, we decided to (randomly, this had not been on our radar) cut out dairy from her diet. To our surprise in 3 months her eczema was completely gone and her rash on her bottom was gone and it didn't come back! CUE THE CLAPPING!!!!
I was finally able to REST. And she was finally able to eat a damn apple again.
She kept on me though, kept asking when we would try to figure out what was going on. The girl is persistent. So I finally did it. I set a date and I didn't budge on it.
Let me tell you. Prepping for this sucked. Meal planning for this first week had me in tears.
The 4R's stand for Remove, Replace, Reinoculate and Repair. So we planned to remove anything that could trigger inflammation, to replace with healthier choices and a digestive enzyme, to reinoculate with probiotics but then...
DANG, this was EXPENSIVE; so we decided to hold off on the repair for now.
Let's chat a minute about making a shopping list for myself, a husband, a four year old and a two year old when all of our go- to snacks were on the naughty list. And I'm not talking about candy or fruit snacks either, I'm talking about mango and bell peppers! (The top photo isn't accurate, we can't even have freaking bell peppers). Yogurt, cottage cheese... EGGS! Wh
Life was sweet. For awhile. Until she really wanted some yogurt and I really wanted to let her have some.
I wanted to get to the root of the food sensitivity.
Which is what led me to Dr. Aviva Romm's Healthiest Kids University and the Allergy Epidemic. In this course she discusses the root causes of some allergies and even auto-immune diseases and guess what one of them was? Antibiotics, yes, but more specifically, treatment using antibiotics for Group B Strep during birth.
So began our journey with Dr. Aviva's 4R program. Well, in theory anyway. Anything sounds good in theory right? I would set dates to start, and then cancel them. I would think about how to prepare and then not prepare. She and I would talk about it at length and she would get excited at the idea to eat cheese again, possibly-- but then a family party would come up or she would get invited to a friend's birthday or we could go away for the weekend and I would put it off.
Because who the heck can fit an elimination diet like this into their life? Don't get me wrong, we cook the majority of food at home anyway-- we eat well, mostly vegetarian, I pay attention to the dirty dozen, we brew our own Kombucha for goodness sakes! But what if I wanted to quickly grab Chipotle one night? Or go to a friend's home for a meal? What happens then?
It seemed impossible.
Dairy-free. Gluten-free. Sugar-free. Red-meat free. Limited fruit. No nightshades.
AND THE LIST GOES ON.
What the heck would we eat for breakfast, I want to know??? I can only seem to scrounge up recipes for dinner, but am at a complete loss for breakfast, lunch and snacks.
I plan on having smoothies (which take up all of our fruit choices) for breakfast almost every single morning. For 3 months. Everybody laugh along with me!! Only a crazy person would attempt this with whole family.
Hello, nice to meet you. I'm CRAZY.
When we aren't having smoothies-- well, I guess we can have bananas and almond butter.
Lunch: Rice and carrot sticks? Will my two year old eat a salad?
Snacks: Green beans.
Is that enough? Ha. I'm tired already. That's it folks. That's all I've got.
Wish me luck!