My daughter had always been free of health issues. Having me as a mother, a health enthusiast and holistic care provider, I made sure that I supported my little one’s health the best way I could.
I nursed for 22 months and started her on solid foods at 6 months with vegetables first, then fruit and later turkey and chicken. As a toddler, she drank only water and goat’s milk and ate primarily gluten free grains unless we were at a party or out of town.
She didn’t know of candy till preschool and didn’t get sick till then either. Without food allergies to speak of, I allowed her to explore food out of our norm but kept a solid wholesome regimen at home. It worked for us.
She was super healthy and happy!
When my child was about 3 years old, we adopted a pescatarian way of eating (fish was our only animal protein though my daughter ate goat's milk cheddar cheese). We ate lots of beans, rice and lentils as well as green veggies, sweet potatoes and carrots with fish a couple times a week.
My little one has always been a milk and dairy LOVER. While I cut out milk, I still packed her lunch with a raw goat’s milk cheddar cheese almost daily.
I got a little lazy in packing her lunches after about 8 months.
I became queen of Organic Joe’s O’s pasta (like spaghetti O’s) and the kid’s Cliff bars. Birthday parties with cake and ice cream happened seemingly every 10 days between preschool and life with friends and family.
There was much more sugar intake from 3 years old to 5 years old than I was really comfortable with but I got in a groove and didn’t want her to miss out.
Around this time, my daughter had a hard time getting rid of mucus.
She caught a cold almost every other month and was that kid that always had some gooey mucus rattling in her chest or coming from her nose. How could this be my child????
I will never forget the Winter of 2015, just before Christmas. My daughter sustained a major accident to her mouth/teeth/gums and ended up having two teeth extracted and her gums stitched back together.
She was prescribed antibiotics and was unable to eat solid food for weeks.
In shock and in panic mode, I followed orders and gave my little one the suggested copious amounts of ice cream (still organic and mostly coconut milk based) and yogurt (mostly coconut based) to make her happy. When she could chew I gave her bread (gluten free) and more bread, yogurt and cheese.
A couple of months later little red splotches appeared around her hair line. Then red bumps that were intensely itchy. She would also have dry patches of skin that were annoying and her hair was thinning. Always sounding stuffy, I later realized that my daughter couldn’t really smell through her nose- plus she snored like a sailor.
The red bumps would fade then come back and were very itchy.
While this went on for about a month I tried to figure out what was happening. However, to be honest I had a super busy schedule and didn’t give it as much attention as it needed. My daughter was my child and I didn’t see her as a patient.
Major breakouts of red bumps all over her body were becoming a regular occurrence. She would run around like she was on fire and wasn't able to sleep. The break outs seemed to be triggered by food but I was still putting the pieces together.
What we later discovered was that my daughter developed leaky gut syndrome.
This was most likely from the combination of antibiotics and her over abundant carbohydrate rich diet that threw off the healthy balance of gut flora. I was pretty embarrassed that this happened to my child as I should have caught the downward spiral. However, I was in mom mode just trying to get some food in her and make it through another day.
Leaky gut syndrome occurs when the lining of the gut develops tiny gaps between tight junctions where substances such as food proteins can pass from the gut to the blood stream. There are particular proteins that can trigger an immune reaction and allergic response. Leaky gut can be be caused by toxins, chronic inflammation, and an imbalanced diet.
This syndrome is not recognized as a diagnosable medical condition.
The foods that triggered my daughter were:
- oats and grains of any kind including corn
- white potatoes
We discovered that these foods were her triggers through observation. This was abut 70 percent of her diet at the time. Committed to healing her naturally, I had to make some major changes that were challenging. In addition to the skin eruptions and intense itching, she was also having stomach aches.
It’s hard to tell kids that they have to take a break from their FAVORITE foods but she understood that they were causing her pain.
About a month or so after my daughter’s 5th birthday we took on the GAPS diet. GAPS stands for gut and psychology syndrome and is an approach to eating adopted by many who have autistic children, children with ADD/ADHD and other psychological syndromes in addition to those who have chronic gut inflammation.
GAPS is known to help seal leaky gut and deal with food allergies from the core. The diet regimen consists of meats, bone broths, healthy fats, non starch veggies and some fruit. It was almost the exact opposite of what we were eating. However, the eczema and hives were a direct reflection of my daughter’s gut health as foods were a consistent, predictable trigger.
This new way of eating was hard at first. The body and the unwanted microbes (such as candida) go through a detox when you rob them of the broken down sugars from grains, fruit and starchy vegetables. Your body also has to learn how to run on protein and fat in a greater way than it did when you’re eating mostly starches and grains.
We started with the Intro GAPS which is a short term, more intense version of full GAPS minus eggs which were a major trigger.
We were up to our eyeballs in bone broths and stocks with lots of whining and complaining.
I had faith that this approach would work and I could slowly see my daughter improving. I heavily relied on Cara Comini’s web site, Health, Home and Happiness for guidance as she has mastered a plan of action with recipes for GAPS.
After about 10 days, my daughter’s breakouts were less and she could breathe through her nose and smell.
I knew we were on the right track. It can take 6-8 months or a year for the gut to heal and to allow previous trigger foods but I was committed. I was that parent that packed lunches all the time, brought special desserts for my daughter to birthday parties in lieu of cake and ice cream and stopped family members from feeding her what ever she wanted.
Yes, I’m sure I was (and still am) annoying but when you see your child in pain from food you’ll do what you need to do to heal them.
One of the hardest parts of this all is dealing with the emotions of other people who so passionately want to feed your child treats that you know will make them sick. Others often project their own feelings about food onto your experience and will even try to sneak your kid a sugary treat because THEY feel they are being deprived. This can be maddening.
Please do not feed my child, healing is taking place.
If I hadn’t made the choices I did, I have no doubt that now at 6 1/2 years old my child would still have intense regular breakouts with hives and eczema and major congestion and digestive issues that would only get worse over time. The western medical community doesn’t address eczema and hives from a digestive perspective. Instead, topical ointments and creams are given to deal with the symptoms. I want my daughter to learn that to handle something, you have to address the root cause- especially when it comes to health.
Today, my little one is healthy and happy. I still closely monitor what’s consumed but allow many more special treats and “fun food”. If my daughter has had more sugar, legumes and grain based meals than usual, I can tell I need to immediately switch it up if she starts to itch. I miss us all eating a mostly grain, legume and veggie based (I was happy to avoid meat products) diet but my child needs more than just vegetables at the moment.
These are the foods she eats now that don’t trigger symptoms:
- Beef bone broth (she loves it but chicken bone broth triggers her)
- Sauerkraut and fermented veggies (she loves them but didn't at first)
- Sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, beets, turnips, rutabaga, carrots
- Avocado (because it needs it's own bullet)
- Peas, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, cucumber… any green veggie
- Organic Turkey and chicken and white fish
- Garbanzo beans, navy beans
We will have foods off this list when dinning out or for special occasions but these are the staples.
I do hope this was helpful for you or anyone you know with digestive imbalance, eczema, hives or food allergies in general. It’s been a journey for even me as a health care provider. If you’re just starting your wellness journey hang in there, stay consistent and listen to your body!