I've been on quite the food allergy journey this week, so I thought I would share it with you while it is fresh in my mind and write about the benefits of NFP next week.
Fruits and Wheat/Gluten
Growing up, I had zero problems with food. In fact, my only allergy was to pollen, which became mild enough in 7th grade that I stopped taking medicine for it except the occasional Claritin.
When I was 3 months pregnant with Alexis, school started and I needed to snack while teaching to make it through the day. Fruits provided an easily accessible pick-me-up (meaning take the edge off the nausea) that I could eat while "touring the classroom," going desk to desk helping students. I noticed that my tongue would tingle when I ate bananas, so I switched to apples. Apples also made my tongue tingle, so I switched to granola bars. As September turned into October, I had suspicions that something else bothered me, but I couldn't figure it out. My tongue didn't tingle immediately like it did with the fruit, but it constantly felt like I had burnt my tongue on super hot food. I thought maybe my tongue was also growing, but then I thought I might be imagining it. In mid-October Austin and I attended a church camping trip where I ate nothing but bread--pancakes for breakfast, pudgie pie sandwiches for lunch, some forms of bread at our community dinner with delicious pumpkin cupcakes. Coming home I was miserable. I had to stick my tongue out of my mouth to feel like I could breath properly. I considered going to the emergency room, but it wasn't getting worse, so I didn't. Please don't yell at me. I know I should have.
At that point, I decided to give breads up for a week and see what happened. I ate a lot of meat with rice or potatoes. The next weekend, my family hosted a joint wedding shower for my brother and his fiance. That day, I ate normal pizza and cake and crackers in my soup. The next day I determined I needed to keep up the gluten free/wheat free diet. I didn't buy very many special gluten free items for the remaining 5 months of pregnancy in hopes that it would go away after the baby was born. I asked the midwife who told me it was possible, but not likely. I still clung on to hope.
After Alexis's birth, I realized I would remain gluten free/wheat free indefinitely, so I started experimenting with different flours and recipes. I kept Erica's All Purpose Flour in the freezer because it works with all my normal recipes and is easy to make. She also has a wonderful bread recipe that I liked much better than the store breads. Overall, I like using my normal recipes with the flour substitute over specialty gluten-free recipes with the exception of cinnamon rolls. These Cinnabon-Ish Cinnamon Rolls by Andrew Mollmann were AMAZING!
More on Gluten Free
From my research, it is common for people to have tongue issues with fruits and sour foods, but unusual for gluten. Wheat allergies act more like traditional food allergies; whereas most people who are gluten sensitive/intolerant have more intestinal problems. There are people who choose to go gluten free to lose weight/for their health and others who will starve to death if they eat too much gluten. One of my friends looked like a 4th grader when we were in high school. She tried eating more food, but later learned that any food with gluten actually tore up her intestinal wall so she her body could not absorb any food! These people, who have Celiac Disease, must take extreme cautions, some to the extent that they purchase a different set of cooking utensils for their gluten free foods because a small speck of gluten can do some serious damage to their bodies. Even though my symptoms appear more like a wheat allergy than a gluten intolerance, it's easy to say "gluten-free" because almost everything that is gluten free is wheat free.
Some people think Gluten-free is a fad. An Italian Professor, Umberto Volta, studied 17,000 people from 37 different centers who thought they might have a gluten sensitivity. 68% of people came in because of a general lack of well-being; 64% of these people experienced fatigue while others experienced a variety of symptoms, including brain fog, joint pain, skin lesions, dizziness and asthma. Remarkably, the study found that ALL of the patients felt better after eliminating gluten from their diet.
Many people ask why is everyone gluten-free all of a sudden when we've been eating gluten for thousands of years? I've heard some people theorize that weed-killers or GMOs are to blame. Science can't prove that any factor contributes to gluten sensitivities. I am of the opinion that people may have suffered these conditions for years with no idea that their food caused their discomfort.
Dairy has never been a problem for me, but it is for Alexis. After about 6 weeks of a very unhappy newborn, we discovered dairy was the culprit. You can read about that roller-coaster here. Although some well-intended people suggested formula, the health benefits of continuing to nurse for me and Alexis and the cost savings motivated me to go dairy-free/low-dairy and continue nursing.
Adjusting to dairy-free was easier than adjusting to gluten-free because I used almond milk for anything milk-like in my recipes (milk, whipping cream, evaporated milk). Sometimes they would need an extra thickening agent, but I was surprised that the taste wasn't as bland as I expected! The hardest part was missing cheese: nachos without cheese and macaroni and cheese without cheese just aren't the same.
We would occasionally try dairy because babies can grow out of their food allergies as their stomachs develop. A friend of mine said that all 5 of her children had dairy intolerances to different degrees and all grew out of it by 4 years old. We discovered that Alexis is highly sensitive to Parmesan cheese and mildly, if at all, sensitive to mozzarella cheese. At 22 months she can now have some sour cream and very small amounts of milk.
I'm now 16 weeks pregnant with baby #2. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed my tongue tingling while eating the last two slices of my homemade bread. I assumed Alexis spilled some regular flour in that part of the bread pan since I hadn't noticed any allergy sensations when eating the rest of the bread. The next week I ate out at Mexican and ordered a corn tortilla, which also bothered me. I assumed I became more sensitive to gluten during this pregnancy. A few days later, I was eating my rice noodles and each bite felt like I was eating regular noodles! I checked, and they were definitely my noodles and we were careful to use a separate spoon to stir them. That's when I then decided to quit eating rice. After remembering the corn tortilla incident, I decided to quit all grains for a week. After 4 days my tongue felt normal sized again. I tried adding corn back in, but my tongue didn't think that was a good idea.
Going grain-free is the hardest of all because most gluten substitutes contain either rice or corn. Thankfully the Paleo Diet is a pretty popular grain-free diet now and there are several food bloggers who post grain-free recipes. My favorite food so far is almond flour pancakes. My biggest challenge right now is building up a repertoire of snacks I can eat! Meals aren't too bad because we eat a lot of meat and potatoes or I can have Mexican without the "carrier," like chips or tortillas.
If you think you have a food sensitivity or a food allergy, cut it out of your diet and see how you feel! An even better, though highly more expensive solution is Food Allergy/Sensitivity Testing. Food sensitivities are tested through MRT Testing while Food Allergies can be tested through the traditional skin prick method or blood tests. For help with food sensitives, my doctor recommended Courtney Rinehold from Fort Wayne, who offers nutrition services including the MRT test.
Conditions which food sensitivities may contribute to:
Food allergies should be managed by your doctor and often have one or more of the following symptoms:
We should take food allergies very seriously because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates food allergies cause 30,000 emergency room visits, 2,000 hospitalizations and 150 deaths each year in the United States. Many people are so sensitive that if you even eat one of these foods when near them or if you shake their hand after touching one of these foods, they will suffer an allergic reaction.
Stephanie started her Creighton Model journey in early 2014 and entered the program to instruct others in 2017. She enjoys equally adventuring in the great outdoors with family and friends and reading a good book with a cup of tea. For more details, visit her About Me page.