For the last three weeks, I’ve been on an elimination diet to try to get to the root of Cedar’s gas and allergy issues. No dairy, soy, gluten, corn, fish, beans, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, radishes, kale, turnips, brussell sprouts, coffee, sulfites, garlic, onions, nuts, spicy foods, shellfish, citrus or eggs. So what am I eating, you may ask? Meat, rice products, other vegetables (namely spinach, chard, carrots, potatoes, beets, squash, and cucumbers), fruits, coconut products, quinoa, and millet. With the exception of a few days stint, I have not cut out caffeine completely; I did cut out coffee, which is supposedly the worst, but I’m holding out on that precious cup of tea in the morning, especially since I’ve been so tired lately, and also since I don’t think it’s a major culprit of Cedar’s gas (wishful thinking?). I also have held out on my evening glass of wine, though I’m mostly drinking wine with no added sulfites, since sulfites could possibly be an issue, but I doubt it. So, there you have it, caffeine and alcohol are my hold outs. Hey, I’ve never been a health fiend. I value my emotional stability, and, in these days of self-deprivation on many fronts, tea and wine are a couple of my dearest friends.
Actually, it hasn’t been as hard as it might sound. And it’s been that much easier for me to take on, because I’m doing this not just for myself, but mostly for my baby. True, it is virtually impossible for me to eat anything served in a restaurant, but these days I mostly stay at home anyway, and nor do I have much time to cook, so as long as I keep the fridge stocked with things I can eat, most days I don’t feel that deprived. Breakfast a bowl of rice cereal, and maybe some fruit or turkey sausage, minimally processed. Lunch is often a salad with rice or quinoa, chicken, lots of vegetables, and oil and balsamic. Dinner might be the same, or else maybe some other meat and roasted yams and potatoes. Treats are avocados, salt and vinegar potato chips, coconut ice cream, fruit, and gin and tonics, without the lime. It’s ironic how these days I view a little bit of alcohol as “better” for me and Cedar than, say, broccoli, especially when for the last year I’ve completely avoided alcohol or had very little of it. But when it comes down to varying opinions about how much and when exactly a glass of alcohol gets transmitted through breast milk, versus seeing an immediate correlation between eating a food and then watching your baby cry, arch his back, and struggle in pain some 4-24 hours later, um, I’ll take the gin and tonic. Right now rewarding myself with little treats is often what gets me through a tough day.
The good news is, Cedar’s gas has been mostly absent recently! He still has an occasional squirmy, gassy uncomfortable moment easily attribute to gas, but this seems much more like what one might consider normal, baby gas, gas that passes fairly quickly without a prolonged acrobatic routine of putting him in various positions, massaging his tummy, nursing him, and bouncing him on a ball for hours. And so, by this token, the diet has already been a success.
Cedar’s rash, unfortunately, still has not gone away, except with the help of some topical steroids, which I only wanted to use for a very short period in order to get his itchy, bumpy, red infected cheeks under control. They look way better now, but I know this is only treating the symptom and not the cause. He used to only break out with a rash when I ate dairy; that was the first food that I figured out for sure he was allergic to. But now I’m not sure what this new prolonged rash has been about. I’m wondering now if he doesn’t also have some allergies to environmental stuff, like our cat, or dust, or the detergent we use. So, for now, I’ve washed all our blankets and clothes in a more natural detergent, and will keep looking into other factors if it continues to be a problem. I sure hope we don’t have to get rid of our cat.
Now comes an exciting, yet also potentially new hard stage: adding foods back in. One at a time, with some days spaced in between, testing each forbidden food to see what kind of reaction he has. I’ve been deliberating lately which foods to test first, and which foods I may not want to test at all. I know for sure I’m not testing dairy. I’m also not testing cabbage. And beans and garlic may not be worth it either, based on past reactions.
But back then, before I was on this diet, I never could tell for sure what he was reacting to. And the naturopath I visited taught me that sometimes one can have a small reaction to a lot of different things, and the compounded result is still bad news. So, who knows, maybe on one of those nights I thought Cedar was reacting to the beans, it was actually the little bit of garlic, onions, beans, and kale, all together. After I figure out what he’s allergic to I can experiment with whether eating tiny amounts are tolerable to his system.
I’m eager to test coffee and sulfites, so I can go back to my unrestricted hedonistic ways. I’m also eager to test gluten, soy, and corn, since these things are found and so often hidden in SO many foods. I’m excited to test tomatoes, so that I can hopefully enjoy the crop that we’ll have coming in soon. And fish, nuts, eggs, and citrus, too, since these are all foods I regularly enjoy. It would suck if Cedar was allergic to fish, since my husband is an avid fly fisherman and our freezer is stocked with salmon and steelhead. But the truth is, I’d prefer to give up fish to gluten or soy or caffeine.
Hopefully, we’ll discover a few key culprits, and not that Cedar is allergic to almost everything on the list. But even if he is, at least then I’ll know how to help him live more comfortably, and how to avoid his bouts of pain, which can be so hard on mama’s tender heart and sleep-deprived nerves. And most likely, he will outgrow most of these allergies by the time he’s a toddler. Babies are such sensitive beings.
The bad news is, Cedar’s nighttime sleep patterns have not yet improved. I’d attributed his frequent night waking of the last couple months mostly to gas, but now I’m not so sure. Was it originally due to gas, yet now has just become a newly ingrained bad habit? Or is it more due to the fact that he sleeps so close to me in bed, or that he doesn’t yet know how to go back to sleep on his own? These are questions that can only be solved through more experimentation and trial and error, and experimenting with a whole new sleeping routine is more than I can tackle right now. I think I’ll wait until I’m done reintroducing foods (and potentially revisiting some bad, gassy nights) before I take on any new challenges. One thing at a time.
For now, I’m just so very grateful that we have seen progress, and that all this food deprivation and visits to doctors have not been for nothing. In fact, it’s already been so worth it to now have a happier baby. And the unintentional side effect is that I’m eating healthier and I’m more aware of what I’m putting into my body than ever before.