Just Heather

Most of my family is now on a gluten free diet (more on that when I have the time). This is really quite a simple thing since we were already fans of fresh fruit and veggies. I cook a lot from scratch anyway so it was a fairly easy matter of buying different ingredients. It does mean a significant jump in our food budget, but that seems to be balancing out by the fact that we can no longer really eat out.

For one, it’s just not fun anymore. The best part of dinner out is almost always the rolls/bread/biscuits the hostess drops on your table to start your meal. But most importantly, few restaurants seem to know what is even in their food. Even if I didn’t have food intolerance to deal with, that would be scary to me. I can’t begin to tell you how many restaurants—chains, mostly—can’t answer a simple question about the ingredients.

I get excuses about various suppliers, ingredients changing, etc. A lot of the problem seems to be messy kitchens—flour flying, fries mixed with breaded chicken, contaminated knives and cutting boards. Mostly, though, people seem to be clueless. I tend to simplify our issue by saying we are allergic to wheat rather than go into celiac disease and the concept of gluten which is in wheat, barley, rye and malt.

Today, after mentioning the “wheat allergy” to our waitress I ordered each of the girls grilled chicken with no bun. The genius waitress tells me, “Oh, they are just the regular white buns.” Yes, and these are made from those fancy wheat-free white stalks?

Long time, no see!

  • Anyone who could make it around the world in 80 days, clearly didn’t stop to visit family. Christmas alone took us 6.
  • Through a series of gluten free trials and challenges, it would appear that all 3 of our children are celiac. Updates to come when I have more time.
  • The chicken pox vaccine doesn’t work for shit.
  • Sick days plus holiday break makes for a very, very long 3 weeks.
  • The love of baths is clearly genetic. The wonders of an oatmeal bath have created yet another addict.
  • 9-year-olds do not know how to read in a tub without soaking the book.
  • I, however, have successfully read 5 books in the tub since Christmas.
  • Speaking of books, I once told my uncle that I would love to own James Whitcomb Riley books, but they are too expensive in our flea markets. Though I haven’t seen him for several years, I just received my 6th book in the mail from him this week. Also, though I don’t remember ever mentioning that I wanted to find Alice of Old Vincennes (my hometown), he sent an antique copy last month!
  • It’s Girl Scout cookie time! And my cookie mom will be out of town when the orders are due!
  • Also, the internets have suddenly decided that I don’t need to receive any email from said cookie mom.
  • Gluten free diet + sneaky child who loves to climb=very cranky, glutened child who doesn’t seem to understand cause & effect
  • Molars really hurt on the way in, poor baby!

I know I’ve been neglecting this blog a lot lately, but I have a really good excuse reason. First, I spent 6 months poisoning my child. Then I spent 3 months trying to figure out what exactly I was poisoning her with. I’ve spent the last month trying to figure out how not to poison her now that she’s too old for the simplicity of baby food.

Now that she’s 1, it’s just a bit harder than opening a Gerber jar. The look on her face when her aunt ate pizza right in front of her just broke my heart. One of our holiday meals this year is pizza so I’ll be introducing her to the goodness of rice crust pizza very shortly. At least she can handle dairy now so it won’t have to include soy cheese too. Speaking of holidays, I’m nearly finished shoppping. I haven’t wrapped a thing yet so that will be fun.

The Princess’s birthday is next week. She has requested a Christmas party for her birthday (after years of trying to separate her December birthday from the holiday). That’s on Saturday, which meant decorations had to go up sooner than usual. All that’s left is the tree. I was hoping that would get done tonight, but apparently me saying 4 times “We need to put the tree up tonight.” wasn’t enough of a hint to get him to actually do it while I was at the store buying tape for the aforementioned wrapping.

After that begins the parties, caroling with scouts, choir concerts, and other assorted holiday requirements. The world family tour starts on the 22nd and runs straight through the 26th. It’s back to back, but at least it’s only 1 a day this year which should make it a bit more relaxed. Shortly after that will be our oldest’s 9th birthday.

Posting will be light—if not nonexsistent—for the next month or so.

I remove crumbs in a single swipe.
I stop cross contamination with the wipe of a sponge.
I decipher ingredient labels with my finely tuned eyes.
I am…
(dramatic pause)
Allergy Mom!

(Sort of.)

Lorelai’s allergy skin test was this morning and it was a good news/bad news kind of day. The good news is she tested negative for everything. The bad news is we still don’t know why she is reacting to certain foods. The doctor said she most likely has very sensitive skin, which explains the rash reaction to high acidic foods (like strawberries). She turned red with every skin prick, even the negative control, so the fair skin concept holds up well. The other dietary reactions she has experienced the doctor called food intolerance, though not a true allergy.

The good news with that is she will probably outgrow most of it, and we shouldn’t have to worry about anaphylaxis or anything severe. The bad news is it brings us back to the original celiac disease concern. The only way to confirm that diagnosis is with a biopsy, and she has to go back on wheat first. We’re declining that for now, but may consider a challenge when she’s 4 or 5. I see no reason to put something back in her diet that causes any sort of reaction, even if she isn’t officially allergic.

Right now we’re going with the theory that reaction trumps results. If she reacts to food, I don’t care what the test results say. The doctor recommended keeping her off wheat, corn, beef, and chicken. We’ve been avoiding dairy since she was 2 months old, but now that her stomach is healing from the wheat damage we may try reintroducing milk. It would be much cheaper and so much easier to have 1 type of milk in the fridge. I plan to try it after her pediactric appointment in a couple weeks.

Last week I ran across some coupons for a few of Lorelai’s gluten-free regulars. Today I was super excited to find her favorite cookies on sale. Combined with a coupon, they were almost like buying regular cookies! I’ve discovered that my favorite grocery store carries a large variety of gluten free products. It’s helping me balance the new, costly diet with my frugal (read:cheap) ways. These last couple months of buying specialty food for the baby is the first time in 10 years I have paid full price for groceries.

Today I also made her first dentist appointment. She’s younger than he normally sees, but with the chance of celiac disease still out there I’m not taking chances. The disease causes defects with tooth enamel, and our pediatric dentist agreed an early start with her dental care was warranted.

In 2 days, we spend the morning with a pediatric allergy and immunology specialist. We’re looking at a long day of skin testing, and some more blood draws. I’m hoping we’ll find the rest of the normal people food that’s poisoning our daughter. My mother calls me a neurotic hypochondriac, but she’s getting better on an elimination diet so it’s clearly working. So far we know wheat and dairy with almost certainty and suspect corn, chicken, beef, and strawberries.

It will be such a relief to have it over and know for sure what she can and can’t eat. Then we can put together a balanced diet (hopefully—protein is appearing to be a problem with high allergens like eggs and peanuts our only alternatives). We’ll finally be able to make she gets the nutrition she needs.

If you have ever seen me eat, you would be hard pressed to picture me shopping in an organics food store. The recent discovery of my littlest one’s wheat intolerance has found me there quite regularly. I’ve been buying gluten-free toddler puffs and cereal to replace the Gerber puffs and Cheerios she was previously eating. It’s slightly more expensive, but mostly just annoying having to add 1 more store to my weekly errands.

Yesterday I found a new Gerber food that she can eat! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to discover the new Mini Fruits freeze-dried foods where just that—freeze-dried fruit with no additives. As long as we steer clear of the poisonberry flavor, we’ll be okay. I can add yet another mainstream food to the short list of Lorelai-safe treats. Plus, I had a coupon! And we all know how I feel about that.

I’m putting together a list for family in case they want her to actually be able to eat her first Halloween goodies as they will need to be both wheat-free and dairy-free. It started out pretty short—banana chips and fruit cups were all I could come up with—but it’s growing by leaps and bounds as I have researched brand names and ingredients.

  • banana chips
  • fruit cups
  • Fritos or Ruffles chips (She should be able to bite into these soon!)
  • potato sticks
  • Gerber mini fruits
  • Newman’s Own organic dark chocolate bars (Actually, a lot of candy is gluten free, but most chocolate is made with milk and most other candy is too hard for little ones.)
  • apple cinnamon rice cakes

Since beginning the gluten free diet, Lorelai has had more energy than ever before. I had forgotten what “normal” babies were like, and I am exhausted from learning it so quickly! She had the ability and the development to do the things she should be doing at this age, but not the proper nutrition to actually put it into action.

While most babies step slowly into everything, she has started practically overnight! There was no getting used to her crawling around on her tummy, then her knees, and then learning to stand. She has done it all in one week. Two weeks ago she couldn’t even crawl. Now she can whip her way around the couch, stand up to the bookcase, and yank Mommy’s cookbooks out one by one.

It’s all I can do to stay one step behind her just to put everything away again.

Things are going well for Lorelai’s gluten free diet experiment. She has great energy, takes only 1 good nap each day, and just in general seems like a healthier, happier baby. I took her to the doctor on Thursday to be sure her cold wouldn’t become an ear infection while we were out of town. It included a weight check and she has gained 4 ounces in her first gluten free week!

It looks like gluten free will stick around for awhile. Her 1-year checkup will include a referral to an allergist, who will tell us what else she may be allergic to. I’m already guessing strawberries, after the rash she got when the girls ate them. Yesterday, my sister accidentally gave her a poisonous strawberry kiss. A rash appeared a few minutes later.

This week I’ll be experimenting with some gluten free cooking. Ordinarily, I would have been starting a baby on some table foods by now. Lactose intolerance, and now a wheat allergy, have delayed that. I am looking for a good flour substitute for breading and thickening. That really should eliminate gluten in most of our meals. Anything on bread or buns would be off limits anyway until she’s much older. Then I can purchase gluten free breads at Wild Oats. It helps that I cook with a lot of fresh foods already.

Food allergies are a new experience for me, but I’m great at research. While challenging, it’s going to be just fine. She’s young enough to make it easy—she’ll never know what the “real” stuff tastes like. On the other hand, her sisters do know the difference so it will be hard when she wants what they have. We’re learning as we go.