I hinted in my last post that things have been a little nuts on the health side with my youngest. Though Twin B, Gabi, has been a healthy kid over all, her immune system has been weak the past 6-7 months. Historically, she would catch a seasonal cold or the flu a few times every winter but it usually meant missing a day or two of school. She is and has always been a GREAT sleeper, so often she would literally sleep it off. It was amazing. But since we moved to Chicago a few years ago, she has been getting sick more often and she has had extreme temperature spikes more regularly. Different factors came into play, she started full time school soon after we moved here so she was exposed to more kids and in a school environment for longer periods than before and Chicago had two historically cold and long winters right after we arrived so I’m sure that might have been a factor. Then this past November she was diagnosed with asthma. An increasingly common chronic lung disease among children but something that can be cured and something many grow out of.
We first started out spending several days in the Children’s Hospital ICU for pneumonia and Asthma, followed by 6 months on roller coaster of being in and out of the hospital and many weeks off of school for recurring pneumonia, bronchial infections and asthma. She was put on strong oral steroids and antibiotics over and over which scared me but when asked what else we could be doing the answer we got back from doctors always seemed to be more meds. What was going on? Why all of a sudden was she so prone to catch things? Isn’t catching pneumonia 4 times over 6 months a lot? Unusual? What can we do to boost her immune system? Was there anything we could do for preventative care?
After many questions and a lot of research we asked for some more tests. After being jabbed by more needles and many doctors appointments later, we had some answers. I wish I had done these tests in January rather than June because they were so helpful! Her immune system and white blood count tests turned out normal but some of her viral markers were completely off, indicating that she was very apt to catch various strands of pneumonia. Her food tests also showed severe sensitivities to a few things we consumed on a regular basis and that she has candida.
Digesting these results and determined quell the inflamation in her system and make her system stronger. We made the Summer of 2016, THE SUMMER OF RECOVERY! We decide to all excluding a number of foods from all of our diets to support Gabi and do this together. We had our sugar crash and cravings which was a little revealing considering that we didn’t eat many sugar containing items to begin with. We have eliminated all dairy, gluten, soy, all artificial food colorants along with paprika, all chili spices, mahi mahi, chicken, beef, cocoa, all sugar/honey/maple syrups and a few other items from Gabi’s diet.
Some things were easy, food colorants we haven’t had in the house in years but to go 100% free of the others was harder. I knew we had to get off soy, dairy and gluten 100% given their inflammatory properties plus the research and studies I read that children with asthma should to avoid dairy, gluten and soy products in particular. The interesting thing was though neither child has ever tested positive to gluten and dairy, given I am sensitive and that I don’t love the effects both can have on the body, I had generally not bought many gluten, or any soy filled products (aside fermented soy -tamari or miso) and the only dairy the girls ate was the occasional ice cream, cheese pizza and yogurt or kefir for Gabi (she loves all things dairy-which may be a telling sign!). But with work, school and a busy life I had let things slip a bit over the past year. We let them get better sandwich bread, whole wheat, honey oat or sourdough breads, though all from good sources but they still contained gluten and they were eating this bread several times a day. I also softened with dairy, bought kefir more often, took them out of gelato or frozen yogurt regularly and cheese pizza became a weekly and sometimes bi-weekly meal. Is there a connection? Maybe, maybe not but after getting her food panel results I had to give the elimination of these products a try.
So we launched into our summer of recovery at the end of June and no it was (is) not easy, but I am committed to keeping these foods out of her diet for at least 3 months, then gradually re-introducing them to see if she has a reaction to them after being off of them for a good period of time. The key for us is rather than thinking of this as a “diet” or a restrictive way of eating, we look at it as an opportunity to try new things, new restaurants and get excited about buying more of our favorite the seasonal fresh foods and eating them on a daily basis. We are pumping our meals with lots of fresh, local and seasonal organic fruits and vegetables, natures medicine and finding swaps for things we would normally eat. I have gone back to my old French cookbooks and making meals my Grandmother, Mimi used to make. I have been telling the girls lots of stories about cooking with my Dad in the kitchen and the stories he told me about cooking with his mother, Mimi, when I was growing up. It has been fun and rewarding on many levels.
For my baked goods, I’ve had to swap out sorghum (she reacted to this GF staple) from my usual gluten-free all-purpose mix and find new alternatives. I’ve been using low-glycemic sweeteners like stevia, coconut palm sugar, coconut nectar and lucama and been focusing on mashed banana or applesauce sweetened recipes which usually don’t need sweeteners at all. The girls honestly haven’t noticed the swap. Given the heat we have had this summer, we have been doing lots and lots of homemade popsicles and ice creams which have been so easy to do with fresh juices and milk-alternatives. I even bought us an ice cream maker so we could make real ice cream or “nice cream” without the dairy which has been super fun! I do have my sad moments when I’d like to take them out for ice cream or at least sorbet, because we all LOVE ice cream, but they have been amazingly sweet girls about it and not missed it too much thanks to our creative frozen endeavors. We have created so many amazing new treats. Some of which I’ll be posting soon!
Overwhelmed and a little lost a few months ago, we didn’t know what was going on with our sweet girl then were given a long list of things to avoid, we are doing quite well. We are figuring it out. The girls know why we are avoiding certain foods and the path we are on to get out little one’s system back up and in fighting form for the next school year and beyond!
I’ll update again once we start re-introducing some of these foods in the coming months and what is working for us! In the meantime we are sticking to this way of eating and providing Gabi with the following supplements:
- Probiotics Kirkman Pro-Bio Gold (8 billion CFUs daily)
- Fish Oil Child Life Cod Liver Oil (1 tsp daily)
- Vitamin D Natural Health Drops (10 drops or 1000 IU daily)
- Camu Camu Powder by Navitas (half a teaspoon 2-3 times a week in a smoothie)
- Aloe Vera Juice by Lily of the Desert (half an ounce 2-3 times a week in a smoothie)