Haven’t had a post about food allergies lately, so here goes. And by food allergies, I very much mean food allergies, intolerances, or any other way that a food affects a person.
I’ve talked before about how since eliminating many foods for my little food allergic Ada, who is 14 months old now, I’ve begun to notice how food affects my body more.
Sometimes I think people get stuck on this term “food allergy” and think it means more than it does. We are afraid of it. We think it means you are going to die of anaphylaxis if you breath in a room next to someone eating peanut butter or crab. At least in my experiance, it’s just not that way.
For example, Ada may have several “true” allergies, true meaning that her immune system thinks the food is something bad and reacts. But I think she has several intolerances as well. People tend to think that a true allergy is worse or less serious than an intolerance. Again, in my experiance and from what I’ve learned from the people I’ve met through food allergy networks, not necessarily true at all.
A food intolerance causes basically any symptom that doesn’t involve the immune system. Lactose intolerance in the most famous example. You can be allergic to cow’s milk protein. One is an allergy, one is an intolerance. Does is really matter, the science of it, if you eat the food and things happen to your body that you don’t like?
When I’ve reintroduced egg to me and Ada’s diet, three times my migraines (almost all headaches I had went away when I cut out gluten, dairy, eggs and soy for Ada) return, I get irritable and a few other annoying things happen. (okay, for you breastfeeding moms, my milk production goes way up and makes me engorged and sore).
Does it matter if its a “true”allergy to egg or just an intolerance? Not to me. It makes me miseable. That’s enough to keep me from eating it.
A lot of moms I’m talking to in passing or on parenting message boards might mention a symptom, poor sleep, frequent peeing, cradle cap, bumpy rashes, constipation that they wonder about in their child. You mention food allergies and nobody wants to talk about it.
I think its the term “food allergy”. I really do. It really helps me to see it as simply being in tune with my child and my body, and choosing to eat foods that affect me the best.
Ada has allergies, yes. When she eats blueberries she gets really, really, really worse than normal constipation. Do I think she’s “allergic”? No, not really. Do I avoid letting her eat them? Yes, of course!
It is still important to take these things seriously. If you or your kid gets hives, rashes, lip swelling, by all means, take it serious and avoid it like the plague. Learn the symptoms that may lead to anaphylaxis. But don’t think its the end of the world to admit a food is causing something bad for you and your kid.
I get being bummed about it. I do. I’m bummed I can’t eat eggs. They are easy to get locally, easy protein, I enjoy them.
I’m bummed Ada can’t eat oranges. I want some easy vitamin C and oranges taste great. And it’s blood orange season. Yum.
I’ve also heard some people say, “Oh my son doesn’t have a true allergy. He’s going to grow out of it.” Again, arguing the point may not matter, but true allergies OR intolerances come and go. The “true” part only means the immune system responds.
SEVERAL people say to me that I need to start introducing Ada foods so that she can get used to it and start tolerating it. I know they mean well. It is definitely not my take on the issue though.
I’m beginning to wonder if people actually do outgrow or become tolerant to food allergies/intolerances or if the symptoms just change. I feel that sometimes people think their kid has outgrown an allergy but really, they’ve just started feeding them to the food and begin to think that the symptoms are normal.
Like me with my migraines. I could start eating eggs again if I wanted to. I could eat them every few days and cope with a migraine once a week. I could tell myself, like so many do, that my headaches and irritability are that I slept wrong or it’s hormonal.
So I’m in no rush to introduce foods to Ada. When summer comes we may ibntroduce some of the fruits we aren’t sure of but cut just in case. I’m going to introduce almonds again soon, so I can expand my protien.
When she hits 4 or 5 maybe we’ll introduce the worst ones, like soy or eggs or corn. But all these allergies protect her from so much of the junk out their that masquerades as food anyway, that its not actually a bad thing in the big picture.
I bet that if anyone wanting to get healthier chose one thing between corn, gluten and dairy, and said they would make no changes except avoiding that one thing, they’d see improvements in their energy and weight, whether they feel its too much or to little. I really believe that.
And one more thing to add to the rant. It doesn’t matter if you or your kid’s allergies show up in skin or blood tests. It really doesn’t. If the food affects you it does. Testing is not perfect, but elimination and challenge are.