About Me, Clean Eating

Food Intolerances

More and more restaurants these days are making accommodations to their menus to support those with food intolerance/allergies. For that I am thankful. I do like to go out from time to time with my hubby and enjoy a date night.  For the most part I know what restaurants are a go and which ones are not. I make the same considerations when it goes for eating at friends and family houses too. Usually I pack our meals so we can still enjoy time with friends, or just know we take a risk of being cross-contaminated. It isn’t the end of the world and I know it is only temporary. It is bound to happen from time to time, and because of that I don’t let it control my life. I eat fairly clean; not always PERFECT, but I try to be close. I feel like I know my body well and I am happy for that. I know I face some food intolerances, one for sure being gluten. Although it is hard to test at this point so I do avoid it. The test for celiacs would be most accurate if you are already eating gluten while running the test. Since I avoid it, the test wouldn’t be necessarily accurate for me. I also know dairy is also on my avoid list as I tend to break out in acne; although I can handle goat cheese and raw milk cheese in moderation.

Just like working out makes me feel amazing, so does the food I put into my body. With over four years of doing a food elimination diet and monitoring the foods I eat, I have a good sense how my body will react to the foods I eat. Which plays into my clean eating diet. I am not a “health nut” but I do eat to fuel my body. Don’t get me wrong, I do struggle from time to time with emotional eating. Even though my emotional eating consists of healthier foods, eating anything in extreme excess isn’t healthy. So I try to incorporate yoga or earlier bed times when I know I may be under some stress. It is progress, not perfection!

So I am sharing today a picture of me and how my body reacts to foods I am intolerant to. I am not 100% sure what I was exposed to, but this typically happens when I am exposed to gluten. I get extremely bloated almost to the point where my stomach is pretty solid. I usually have a delayed reaction of about 24 hours before symptoms take. Although, sometimes my symptoms will be same day. These pictures are about 10 days apart. These are not exaggerated, but wanted to share something I personally struggle with. IMG_0551

It is always important to listen to your body and you will be happy for it in the long run. I have to do what is best for me and my body. I am responsible to nurturing the body the good Lord gave me.  Living with purpose in this journey called LIFE!

Charlotte's Story

Charlotte’s Story (Part 3)

What a rollercoaster ride it has been for Charlotte’s first couple years of life. So much I have learned through her! I tell myself not to play the what if game. What if I would have had her tested earlier…what if I would have changed this or that…I did the best I could with the resources I had. Live in the present and not the past.

I have been so thankful for the amazing chiropractor Charlotte had been seeing from birth up until we moved out-of-state this past year. She had been a strong advocate for me in trying to help my little girl. We started Charlotte on probiotic pretty much since birth, along with vitamin D. Around 14 months of age we added in UltraCare of Kids since I was starting to wean them from breastmilk. UltraCare for kids is specifically formulated for children with food allergies. It provides a comprehensive blend of low-allergy potential macro- and micronutrients to nutritionally support the reduction of symptoms associated with food allergies and complement restricted diets. See Metagenics website for more details here.

Even after eliminating the foods from the skin allergy test, Charlotte would still go through episodes of mild eczema and inflammation. This is when her chiropractor recommended we do an IgG delayed hypersensitivity, cytokine inflammation (Food and Safety) allergy test. This is a blood finger stick test. You can find more information regarding this test here.  I remember getting the results for this test still to this day. Besides her allergies from the skin test (peanut, wheat, beef, peas, tomato, fish, shellfish, and brazil nuts) she showed intolerance to eggs, lamb, pecans, walnuts, bananas, pineapple, and red grapes. After the news I called my husband crying. Now I had to eliminate even more foods from her diet. We were already on a pretty strict diet. Some of them were no big deal to eliminate, but eggs and bananas was a different ball game. They were staples in my house and on my menu. We then were to add in L-Glutamine powder, extra virgin olive oil, and fermented foods in addition to her already taking a probiotic and vitamin D. Also needed to supplement calcium through a non-dairy source, and calcium fortified foods (orange juice, full fat coconut milk, green leafy vegetables, etc.) We were on the road to help heal her gut. I remember feeling so overwhelmed.  How could such a little girl have so many allergies/intolerance to food?

I could do it. It is what she needs, and I am her mother. So we stuck to making our meals from scratch and finding alternatives so some of her favorite meals. The changes I saw in Charlotte were huge. Remember, this doesn’t happen overnight. After about a week we saw visible signs of her healing and knew were finally on the right track. Skin cleared, she was a happy girl, sleeping through the night finally. She was a totally different girl to me!

It was a lot of work, but worth every bit of it. From time to time over the past couple years I tried to add in foods to see how she would do. Charlotte would still show signs of intolerance. As of this past December her allergy testing came back with just peanuts, soy, and shellfish. Soy was a new one for us, so we are just keeping an eye on it. We really don’t eat foods with soy in them so the allergists was not concerned. So we are slowly adding in foods to see how she does.

When it comes to her going to school now, I pack all her snacks. With her allergies and food intolerance I wanted to be in charge of what she had for snacks with not having to worry about her eating something she is supposed to. This also gives me control of what she eats in the classroom.  Parents at her school can sign up to bring in snacks. I informed the teacher that I would be sending in her daily snacks. Teachers at first thinks it is a little strange or get concerned that she will not get to partake in certain snacks/treats. I just tell them she is use to it, this is how we do things at home and she thinks no different. I do make it special for her, so she has her own snack bag she brings in with just her snacks in it. I guess you can say we are 80/20 paleo, and a completely gluten-free/peanut-free household.

I will be sharing some of her favorite foods in future post. So be on the lookout!  Always feel free to reach out for support. Remember to purposely choose how you are going to live your journey.  Thanks for reading in on my daughter’s story!

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***these are my own thoughts and opinions. I was not given or asked to write a review on any of the products I mentioned. I encourage you to do your own research and consult with a professional before making your own changes.

Charlotte's Story

Charlotte’s Story (Part 2)

April 2013 brought on more changes for Charlotte. After going Paleo for some time now, I decided to add back in peanuts for me. I honestly love peanut butter so I wanted to see if it was something I could tolerate again! So I would enjoy a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabar from time to time. This was something I treated myself to. No one else in the family eats peanut butter at home except for Rob and myself. The kiddos typically ate sunbutter because they couldn’t have peanut butter at school anyways.IMG_2833

On April 19, 2013 I was oh so kind to share a tiny piece of my larabar with Charlotte. She instantly reacted to it. Flaring up head to toe. It just tore through me. I felt so bad for her. This flare being the worse of all, and I knew we had a hill to climb. You can read more about her peanut allergy story here. With all that we had gone through prior to this, I never gave Charlotte any peanut butter up to this point.  I had a gut feeling she may react to it. (Seriously, I should have listened to that gut feeling). At the same time, this is probably what finally kicked me into gear to officially test her for allergies instead of me trying to figure it all out.

So far we had already eliminated dairy, gluten, legumes (except for this instance) from when we started Paleo, and now added peanuts to the list. You can see from this picture how inflamed she had gotten…IMG_3002

We saw an allergists and had a skin test done. This is when we found out she was allergic to wheat, beef, peas, tomatoes, fish, shellfish, brazil nuts, and of course peanuts. Peanuts being the most severe. So back to the drawing board.  For me, it was easier to revamp the menu for the whole family. When cooking for 7, it was just easier to avoid these same foods too. It made meal planning easier, and also didn’t have to worry about Charlotte not understanding why we could eat something she could not.

April 30, 2013 we were still trying to get her skin to calm down.  All her itchingIMG_2994 just made it worse. We were trying creams, avocado oil, coconut oil, lavender essential oil, detox baths. Anything to get her some relief. The MooGoo cream was still working the best. Her body seemed super sensitive. Her lower back just would not clear up. For some reason this typically is the spot she always would itch, especially during the night. Maybe because she could easily reach that spot, I am not sure. Plus her diaper would rub in that spot too. So during the day we would limit the amount of time she was in a diaper and let her roam free.

Charlotte’s inflammation was starting to go down, but she was still not
sleeping. Most days it was off and on in the Moby Wrap during the day and holding her when she slept at night. I could just tell she was so uncomfortable. Crying on an off for days on end. She was at an age where she couldn’t tell me what was bothering her, but knew something was. She wasn’t herself!IMG_3027

May 18th, 2013 you can start to see her back is looking much better (Picture below on the left). It has almost been a month since the reaction to the peanuts. Her back has some redness and scaling to it. Lower back is looking much better with just a little rednIMG_4309ess left. I had been doing some research on diapers at this point now for almost a month to find a better solution in hopes to help speed the recovery process, and be better for her skin. So came across Bambo Nature. I got mine off Amazon here. They have no dangerous chemicals, no allergens, no perfumes, no heavy metals, no substances know as harmful to health or environment, and the list goes on. You can visit their website here to learn more about their diapers and the ingredients that they use to make them. Personally they worked for me, and they held up great for Charlotte and her twin! They are pricey so little after 3 months of using these diapers (since I am buying for 2 babes) I switching to cloth diapers during the day, and used Bambo Nature at night only to save me some money. Picture on the right is Charlotte just a couple of days later after we made the switch to Bambo Nature diapers.

*Final Part 3 tomorrow!

***these are my own thoughts and opinions. I was not given or asked to write a review on any of the products I mentioned. I encourage you to do your own research and consult with a professional before making your own changes.

Charlotte's Story

Charlotte’s Story (Part 1)

This is a very personal story to me, and I struggled with whether or not to share it.  I figured if it could help just one person, then it is worth it. I struggle because it caused me pain seeing my baby girl in uncomfortable pain and many sleepless nights for months on end. We went through many ups and downs her first 2 years of life. Trying to talk with the pediatrician, friends, and doing my own research. What also worked for us, may not for you. I am not a medical professional so please consult with one.

It all started around when Charlotte was about 4 months in age, and she would break out in eczema patches. At first I didn’t think anything about it because it would come and go. It didn’t seem to affect her much and doctors stated she would eventually grow out of it. At the time I already decided not introduce food until they were 8 months of age. I am a cautious parent, and when I found out I was pregnant with the twins I decided to rid the house of chemicals. Which also included taking a look at the kinds of soaps and lotions we were using also. I love Earth Mama Angle Baby so my twins used their line of bath, lotions, and butt balm. Still to this day, I love using their lotion.

My twins were on breastmilk until almost 18 months of age. Earlier on I didn’t think much about food playing a factor in her break-outs.  When she was about 3 months of age I already cut out dairy.  I did with my other 3 because I noticed they were sensitive to it.  All my kiddos would spit up, but once I eliminated dairy they would stop. It never crossed my mind that other foods may be playing a factor until after having dinner with some great friends. In September of 2012 my husband and I decided to do an elimination diet to see if it would help. We figured it would be easier if we had the whole family involved. For one, it would be easier on me for grocery shopping and meal prepping as a mother to 5 young children, and two, minimal complaints about food since we were all involved.  So in came the Paleo diet. If you are not familiar with it, check out here to read up more about it. You can also google Paleo diet and get more information that way. So that meant we eliminated gluten, dairy, legumes, and processed foods/sugars. We cleaned out the fridge and pantry and went head on. Rob and I did a strict Whole 30, while the kiddos followed a paleo diet.

The changes we saw were incredible not with just Charlotte, but the whole family. They way the kiddos felt, their attitudes, and energy levels.  Same went for Rob and I. Feeling better about ourselves, losing weight, and the joys of cooking together. I don’t want to go much more in detail about it. I may do that in another post. Furthermore, Charlotte was showing improvements and started to sleep better for us.

Two months later, things changed again. Beginning in November I started to notice the breakouts lasting longer and not going away like they use to. The picture to the right is when she was 10 months old. This was the time I started taking pictureIMG_0827s to help me with trying to keep track of what her skin was doing. I figured there had to be more to the problem.  She was not just going to grow out of it, and there had to be more I could do.  It just didn’t sound right to me, to let her be.  There were many nights I would cry because I felt so helpless. She would be so miserable.  Most of the time I kept clothes off her because I was trying to eliminate any irritation to her skin. She would break-out almost over her entire back, legs, and upper butt region. Her back may heal up, but her upper butt region would be inflamed for weeks. She would also scar up on her lower legs from all the itching. I would talk with her pediatrician, and once again was told she would grow out of it. (Side note we did
make 1 change in pediatricians earlier on). I figured since I had seen improvement with the changes in our diet, we would stay the course. I had to be missing something…

Next I figured I would try out some different creams to help with the itch.  So I started my journey on researching creams. I wanted to provide her with relief, but at the same time not have to use a steroid to do it.  I did some research and tried different creams.  Earth Mama Angel Baby waIMG_1142s great, but didn’t help her with the inflammation and itching.I tried Aveeno, and it seemed to make it worse. I tried Burt’s Bees Baby multipurpose ointment, and she would just get redder. The picture to the right is from a month later in December. As you can see she is still red and inflamed. I would remember endless nights of crying and her not being able to sleep. Even holding her through the night, she may only get a total of about 3 hours here or there. Then wake up screaming, moving around constantly, and itching. Rob and I were back at it with nighty rotations of staying up and comforting her through the  night. Even though I felt our diet was great, there must be something I was missing. It wasn’t all the time she was breaking out. She would go through some periods of her skin clearing up and then being inflamed again. So I started a food journal to try to help me figure out what was going on.
In the meantime I still needed to help her out with all the itching. About mid December after some more online research I found MooGoo skincare bIMG_1582ased out of Australia. I contacted the company to get more information about their products. I decided to order the Eczema & Psoriasis Cream with Marshmallow, Elderberry and more. It was expensive, but worth a shot.  The reviews I have read were amazing, and after emails back and forth with the company, I figured why not. The cream arrived, and finally some relief for my baby girl.  Within a week her back pretty much cleared up.  This photo was taken January 2013. You can see her back is clear, but pigmentation discoloration from where she was inflamed. Still to this day, I keep this lotion on hand. So finally, yes she got relief. Finally sleeping through the night. Finally a happy go lucky girl again! That will all change again come April 2013.

This post is already so much longer than I thought it would be. Part 2 to come regarding food allergies and food allergy testing. Along with my research in diapers and wipes! Click for Part 2 here.

***these are my own thoughts and opinions. I was not given or asked to write a review on any of the products I mentioned.

Clean Eating, snacks

Peanut Allergy & Snacking on a Sunbutter ball

My youngest daughter, C-girl, has a peanut allergy so I wanted to find a great snack we could have.   I have chosen not to keep peanut butter in my house for this primary reason.  My snack of choice back in 2013 was the peanut butter cookie Larabar or the peanut butter chocolate chip larabar. I probably had one at least once a day!

Her diagnosis came on April 19, 2013. It is a day I will never forget. As usual I had stopped at the store to pick up a few items, and grabbed myself a Larabar to have later that
afternoon. The rest of the kiddos came home from school, and snacks were ready to be served.  One thing I try to have ready is snacks when they get home. No matter what they are ALWAYS hungry when they get home from school. I was snacking on my Larabar when my C-girl came up and asked for a bite.  So I gave her the smallest of bites ( I mean tiny, I am not big on sharing my sweets…)IMG_2836

It was only a matter of seconds before she started getting red. I yelled for Rob because I knew that she was probably reacting. Her body broke out in a rash from head to toe. She got red in the face, neck, and armpits.

I immediately called her pediatrician to explain what was going on. I gave her some Benadryl per her pediatrician’s request. We didn’t need to take her into the hospital as the benadryl was starting to work.  I just remember being so scared, and her not knowing what was going on.

So we always carry an epi-pen with us, and visit the allergist yearly. I was hopeful she would grow out of it.  Although, when we took her in this year to be tested she still has the peanut allergy.  Probably one she will not grow out of her Allergist said…

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So in comes the making for a Sunbutter Ball.  I love taking these on our hiking trips, road trips, and camping adventures.  It is also great in lunches, after school snacks, and on the run!  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.  Bonus, have your kiddos help you make them.  Always great to have children help you in the kitchen, and great way to get some math in! Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you don’t want to make so many at once.  Store extras in the fridge.

Sunbutter Balls

 

1 cup of sunbutter

2 handfuls shredded coconut 

5tbsp raw unfiltered honey

3tbs coconut flour – sifted

1/4 cup plus enjoy life chocolate chips

Handful of raisins- or more depending on your liking

Mix together the sunbutter and honey. Add in the coconut flour and mix.  Add in the shredded coconut and mix. Finally mix in the chocolate chips and raisins.  Take a mini scoop and make small balls.  I layer parchment paper between rows. Makes approx. 34 small balls.IMG_0004