One Food, Many Problems Part 1

aboutfoodBaby constipation is the worst. My littlest one (now 4 1/2 months old) has been struggling. We’ve given her gas medicine, gripe water, belly massages, rectal thermometer (sorry, Baby) and warm baths. Heck, I even got a friend to reikki her! Nothing.

She’s also started to develop eczema and cradle cap, both of which I’ve worked on with natural remedies and guess what? They didn’t work.

Being a Naturopathic Doctor, I looked for the “root cause” of the issue and only started stressing more. Was her colon contracting? Is she going to get toxic megacolon? Damn you, board exams for making me memorize all of these horrible conditions!

I know what you’re thinking – what about your diet? (You're so smart!) Well, I’m sure you can guess my diet is pretty clean. In fact, I’ve even eliminated dairy because it made her gassy. I figured I was doing pretty good with a whole food diet, emphasizing leafy green vegetables and other nutritionally dense foods.

Then one morning I was holding her, looking at her eczema patch and finishing up my breakfast (I eat eggs for breakfast every single day of my life), and I thought maybe, just maybe, my daughter was allergic to eggs.

After all, her older brother is allergic to dairy and eggs so it’s not that big of a stretch. (face palm for not thinking of that earlier)

Long story short, I’ve cut out eggs for about 3 days now. You would not BELIEVE the difference. She’s pooped like 3 times in the last 24 hours, her cradle cap is gone, and her eczema patches are like 90% better. It’s insane.

The dumb part is that I didn’t catch this sooner. I do this for a living! How could I not pick up a food allergy in my own child! Anyway, enough self-reprimanding and back to my point.

My point is this. If your baby has any health issues – respiratory issues, atopic dermatitis, colic, cradle cap, ear infections, diaper rash, vomiting, constipation, gassiness, excessive crying - you HAVE to consider what you’re eating (if you’re nursing). And if you’re using formula, you’re pretty much up a creek because basically every single formula is dairy or soy, which both have major potential to be allergenic.

Before you jump down my throat about “Well I HAVE to use formula!” let me explain. I’m not saying you’re a horrible mom for using formula. I totally get that some people prefer it/have to use it/want to use it and that’s fine. You hear me? We’re good here? OK. (I learned how sensitive some of us can be when I landed my first guest post on Scary Mommy.)

What I am saying is if your baby isn’t doing well, the formula may be to blame. And switching to another dairy or soy formula isn’t going to do anything.

Either way, all the natural remedies in the world aren’t going to solve the problem because they aren’t getting to the root cause of the issue. And you know what, the conventional things aren’t going to work either. Baby reflux medication, ear tubes, you name it.

Food sensitivities have serious implications in both children and adults. They can lead to a wide range of unwanted symptoms. Beyond digestive disturbances, food sensitivities can contribute to allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, athrosclerosis, skin conditions, mood disorders, ADD/ADHD, and other learning disabilities. With stats like that,  trying an elimination diet is a good idea for everyone. Imagine the trouble you could save your child by catching a food sensitivity early!

But back to moms with struggling babies, here's the deal. You have to try an elimination diet. It's easily the easiest & best way to detect a food allergy or sensitivity in your child.

How to Do an Elimination Diet:

1. Eliminate: The best elimination diets remove the most foods. Generally speaking, the more restrictive the better. A good elimination diet will remove gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, legumes, coffee, citrus fruits, nuts, and nightshade vegetables. This leaves meat, most fruit, and most vegetables.  You’ll notice a change pretty quickly in your nursing baby so expect to do this elimination for only 7-10 days.

2. Reintroduce: After you’ve eliminated foods completely for 7-10 days (no cheating), it’s time to reintroduce. You’ll maintain the elimination diet, and reintroduce one food for one day and monitor your symptoms for the next two days. For example, you might decide to reintroduce dairy first. That day you would eat cheese, drink milk, etc. Then note any abnormal reactions in your baby (eczema looks worse, gassy, cranky, etc) After waiting a few days, If the baby has no observable symptoms, you may try reintroducing another food (ie eggs). Continue this process, reintroducing one new food every few days until you have determined what foods may be a problem.

Remember: This diet isn’t just for nursing moms who suspect a food allergy in their baby. You can try this diet on a child at any age to see if there any of their symptoms are food related. And while you’re at it, try it on yourself. Children need to only eliminate foods for about 10 days before reintroducing, whereas adults will want to eliminate foods for 3 weeks.

Also remember: I can help you with this! Sign up for a Quick Advice Session to get your questions answered by someone other than Google!

Wait!There’s a twist at the end of this story. Yes, my baby is feeling so much better but as for me…I began to feel awful. Out of nowhere I felt tired, unmotivated, and like someone shut down my brain. I became forgetful, had a hard time comprehending, and could barely function at the level I was used to. All from not eating my morning eggs. Weird right? Continue with Part II.