Monday, October 7, 2013

And Now For Bean

Meet Bean:

Bean is my fabulous, sweet, funny, wonderful ten year old. She just started fifth grade at the middle school this year. She also joined the band and is playing the flute now. Recently she took a three day class to learn about cheerleading, which she thought was super fun. She was also recently diagnosed with a massive list of allergies.

She had been popping up with awful itchy rashes, especially on her face, for months. Also, her mouth would burn when she ate an increasing number of fruits. It was causing her a lot of discomfort and pain, so we took her to an allergist to rule out food allergies as the cause. Instead of ruling them out, they were confirmed.

A skin test was done and blood was drawn for a blood RAST test. The skin test showed a HUGE number of reactions. 62 food and environmental allergens were tested for - she reacted to 32 of them, some very high. That was scary! For two weeks, until the blood test results came back, she had to go on a total elimination diet to clear her body of everything the skin test showed reactions to, in order to see if it helped. Unfortunately, that meant almost everything! She showed reactions to all legumes (beans, peas, soy, lentils, peanuts), all nuts, almost all fruits, carrots, potatoes, chicken, rice, corn, wheat, and nearly all other grains, eggs, dairy, and so much more. The only things she could eat were peaches and pears, cranberries, GF oats, most seeds, pork and beef, and coconut. Trying to feed her became exhausting and super stressful! 

But we survived! We made it through the two weeks. When her blood test results came back, they were great. Nearly everything was negative. She is definitely allergic to latex and to pet dander, and nearly all fresh fruits cause her to break out in rashes. But since cutting everything else out of her diet did not actually improve her health, the doctor gave us the green light to go back to a mostly normal diet. She still can't eat any fresh fruits at all for a month - only cooked or heavily processed fruits (like dried or canned). The allergist isn't quite sure what is causing her rashes, but thinks there may be something in the fruit proteins she is reacting to. He also isn't sure why her skin test was SO bad, with so many reactions. We're testing out different things to see what helps, but so far no luck. We're still hopeful! But even with cutting out fruit she stil had another reaction tonight, so... well, we'll see what we can figure out! Since elimination and trial is the gold standard in allergy testing, we're still trying a few things to see if anything helps.

I am SO glad that she doesn't have to eat that restrictive diet anymore. It was hard! School lunches were definitely not an option, so here are some of the meals I packed for her during that time:

Most hot dogs are made with corn syrup (yuck!), corn starch, or potato starch. Even the all natural ones frequently have one of these. Luckily I was able to find one brand of organic all natural beef hot dogs with almost nothing else in them. They taste delicious! I also found some buckwheat pasta, which was pretty cool. Since she couldn't have corn, potato, or rice, nearly all of the usual wheat-free substitutes were available to her, so I was glad to find the buckwheat!

For this lunch, I lightly grilled a couple of hot dogs and cut them into a pair of fun octopi, resting on a bed of buckwheat pasta with coconut oil and pepper. She also has shredded lettuce with a bit of cucumber, a sliced nectarine, mustard for dipping the hot dogs, and a safe homemade trail mix.

The trail mix I put together using Enjoy Life allergy free chocolate chips, shredded coconut, dried cranberries, dates, and sunflower seeds.

Happy octo-pair! They were so simple to make. Just cut a hot dog in half, split into 8 'legs' with a sharp knife (being careful not to cut all the way down), then add hat picks and eyes (cupcake decor with food marker, but then I realized the cupcake decor was made with egg white, so I removed them and used paper instead).

This lunch has sliced peaches and shredded tuna with a tiny tub of mustard, a salad of shredded cabbage and lettuce with cucumber bits, trail mix, and a homemade allergy free protein bar.

I made the protein bars with... well, no recipe and I forgot to write it down. But they were GOOD! I used sunflower seed butter, GF oats, hulled millet, hemp seed, chia seed, pumpkin seeds, Enjoy Life chocolate chips, coconut... not sure what else. But they were really tasty. If I can figure them out again, I'll post the recipe!

As you can see, her food started getting repetitive. I only had a few ingredients to work with, so I had to find different ways to serve them. Several of the things she was able to eat were things she didn't like, which made it even harder. These same ingredients appeared in pretty much every meal and snack. For two weeks.

This lunch had canned pears with dried cranberries, sliced peaches, ham rolls with mustard, and shredded lettuce with pickle slices.

Bean doesn't like ham, but adding mustard helped.

Pretty peach butterflies!

I packed this lunch before realizing that pepperoni contains lactic acid starter culture... which has dairy. Boo. Basically the same lunch, but with protein bars, pepperoni, and sliced pears (which we later realized caused her lips to swell and itch and red patches to appear on her arms). 

The protein bars. NOM! They were so good. The kids inhaled them. Even my pickiest people loved them!

Sliced nectarines with a sunflower seed butter filled pumpkin. Eyes and mouth are made with allergy free chocolate chips. More chocolate chips and dried cranberries are tucked into the side. She also has green and black olives, a couple of mini pickles, and a few slices of pepperoni.

Canned pears and frozen blueberries, cucumber slices, peeled pear slices, and pepperoni-olive skewers.

She liked the skewers, but it really wasn't enough food for an active 10 year old. She had a big snack when she got home that day.

This one was before the doctor called and told me potato and apple were out, too. She has roasted red potatoes, grilled burger wrapped in lettuce with mustard for dipping, apple and cucumber slices.

Toward the end of the two weeks we were getting used to it. But we were so glad to be able to add in more variety when the tests came back good! Now she eats mostly a normal diet again. No nuts or fresh fruit, but it's definitely an improvement! Now if we could just figure out what is causing the rashes...

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1 comment:

  1. So glad to hear her diet won't be as nightmarishly restrictive! Hopefully you figure it all out! My legs stopped itching after decades (no dryness or redness - just itch) after we cut the dyes for Z! And her eczema stopped then too. So it's probably something in there somewhere. You just have to find it!

    Good luck Bean!


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