We started our little food, allergen-free eating experiment a year ago this week. Our youngest twin had had a brutal year health wise, in and out of the hospital with pneumonia-induced asthma. She had taken multiple rounds of antibiotics and steroids, her immune system was weak and her body was crying out for help!
Feeling like the meds and protocol were not working, not getting to the root of the problem and instead just being a band aid fix, we took an East/West approach to help heal our little one. We worked with an asthma specialist and I did a ton of research to learn what could be triggering her system. Through various tests we discovered that one of the vaccinations she had be given as a toddler didn’t take or left her immune system unprotected against pneumonia, which might explain why she caught this virus 9 times over 10 months!! She was also sensitive to variety of foods along with having environmental and seasonal allergies. We took out key inflammatory allergen foods (soy, gluten and dairy) from her diet and for a month cut out all added sugar (even raw, organic cane sugar, date and coconut sugar, honey and maple syrup). We started using essential oils at night and in the diffuser and threw out all of our conventional house cleaners. Our little warrior was game for it all, which was so encouraging and amazing to us. She wanted to get better and be able to play with her friends again. She battled through the numerous doctor appointments and multiple of rounds of needles.
We took the allergen-free eating on as a family, not wanting our little trooper to feel left out or alienated. The no sugar thing was much tougher for me than I expected. As my body detoxed I craved chocolate and sweets, which struck me because I didn’t think I ate many sweet things or thought I had a sweet tooth. But it was routine for me to finish off the girls waffles, toast, have half a cookie or bite of the kids desserts. It all adds up! Our other twin, wasn’t super excited about the sugar cleanse and diet changes but I reassured her it was not forever. It was really interesting to watch their little tantrums over the first week about their less fun desserts of homemade juice popsicles, smoothies or dates and nut butter. From all the reading I had done and what I was experiencing myself, I knew it was part of the detox and we’d make it to the other side!! Like magic, about 10 days after giving up sweets, these angels emerged. We were all calmer, less easily triggered and not craving sweets!! We progressed through the rest of the summer slowly reintroducing desserts sweetened with dates, figs, honey or maple syrup and later in the fall starting using date or coconut sugar. Many nights we skipped a traditional sweet dessert and did a savory thing instead: pretzels and hummus, banana drizzled with nut butter or grain-free crackers.
The biggest game changer for us was the elimination of gluten and dairy. These two unfortunately have been modified so drastically over the past 20 years. Dairy and gluten are key inflammation markers linked to a host of diseases and ailments. We had been gluten and dairy free for years when the girls were toddlers until they started kindergarten. With our busy school and work schedule some convenience foods likes yogurts, kefir drinks, packaged cookies and crackers slipped back into our fridge and cupboards. It wasn’t until we went back to gluten-free products and cut dairy that we started to notice a big difference in how we all felt. I pulled my old recipes and created many new ones and started baking all of our treats again. The girls helped out and thought of fun things we could create.
The amazing thing that happened pretty darn quickly was Gabi stopped having asthma attacks. She went from having an attack bi-weekly or monthly to going all through summer, fall and most of the winter without touching her inhaler or emergency meds. Since last summer she has only used her inhaler twice, and only as a precaution to ensure her cold didn’t progress into something more serious. We have avoided the doctor’s office, hospital and emergency clinics all together. Our little one is back to her normal very active self and she even ran her first 5k, finishing 2nd in her group!!
Now I’m not a doctor or in the medical field even, but have long studied nutrition to know the effects of foods, lifestyle and stress on our health. I think having her re-vaccinated was a big part of her recovery this year, but I also think there is something to how we changed her diet. Many of us don’t realize how inflammatory the foods we eat can have on our bodies nor do we see the inflammation within our bodies often until we get really sick. You don’t need to do expensive tests to see how you react to foods, just try excluding them from your diet for a few weeks. It can be tricky at first but try taking out some of the key trigger foods like dairy, gluten, corn and soy and see how you feel. Or take out just one at a time. Changes can come as quickly as a few days and can include: better digestion, less bloating, clearing of brain fog, more energy, better sleep and weight loss. An annual or bi-annual allergen-free “cleanse” or break gives your body a break and lets you tap into what works or may not work for you. I don’t like to think of it as a “cleanse” but instead I tell my clients to go back to eating how their grandparents ate, eating unprocessed, whole foods. Build your plate around fresh, local vegetables and fruits, whole grains, clean proteins and healthy fats. Try it out and see how you feel!
Questions, let me know. Would love to help you find your healthiest you!