I’ve always enjoyed cooking and feeding my family, but discovering food intolerances certainly added to the challenge. Below I share some of our food journey through my husband’s and son’s stories.
My Son’s Story
Our son was a reflux baby who turned into a reflux toddler, who turned into a reflux child. He was on medication from 3 months old. We had weaned him off the medication by about 10 months but by 11 months he was back on the medication. At 14 months old we saw a paediatric gastroenterologist and our son had an endoscopy. This just confirmed that there were signs of reflux and we were told to increase his medication. I can’t remember exactly when he stopped taking his reflux medication but it would have been by 3 years of age. However he went back onto different reflux medication at 9 years of age after seeing the same paediatric gastroenterologist and having another endoscopy.
When he was about 9 months old I had briefly looked into the possibility of diet being part of the problem. It would have been very hard to work out what was affecting him, as he was on some solids but I was still breastfeeding him. However with the second endoscopy and the possibility of being on medication for life and still feeling sick on many days, we were ready to investigate underlying causes more fully. Someone recommended a GP that specializes in looking at the underlying causes. I made an appointment. The doctor recommended our son get a number of blood tests to look at many different things. This included a blood test to test for intolerance levels to 93 foods. He had all the tests. Some of his levels were off and it was found that he was intolerant to these foods: dairy, soy, potato, brewers yeast, sulphites (preservative no 220-228), orange, carrot & licorice. The last 2 to a lesser degree so he continued having carrots regularly. The doctor said that the only “good” foods of the ones he shouldn’t have were orange and carrot.
Within days of cutting out these foods, he stopped complaining of feeling sick everyday & feeling like he was going to throw up. After a few weeks he stopped taking the medication and has never needed to have reflux medication since. After a little while if he did have too much of the foods that he shouldn’t, his reactions where much more severe, including hives & feeling sick or actually vomiting. After cutting out these foods for 6 months, we returned to the doctor and had some of the original blood tests done again to check his thyroid & other levels again and all were good. Without the blood test to check for his intolerance levels to food we probably would not have worked out what he was intolerant to. For example, if we’d cut out dairy and given him soy, he probably still would have had similar symptoms.
Now as a young adult, he still sticks to this diet at home but eats away from home a lot more & generally eats what he likes. He has seen the importance of avoiding the foods he should have & does try to limit these, at times cutting them out for a short while. He seems to have somewhat outgrown his intolerances & only occasionally complains of a headache or gets a bleeding nose.
My Husband’s Story
About 2008 my husband had a sore back and a rash that didn’t go away. He was a very fit man and found he got exhausted very easily whilst running. He was always run down, felt achy and had low iron levels. He had the blood test for Coeliac but it came back fine. Our doctor just put it down to a virus & put him on iron tablets. After we worked out our son’s food issues and my husband was still not well he decided to have the same blood test. He came back as being intolerant to sulphites, wheat, oats, brewers yeast, cashews, mango, cucumber and dairy. We have since worked out that he is basically intolerant to all gluten foods. Within days of cutting out these foods he was feeling so much better. Sulphites are the worst and we are working out more and more what sulphites are hidden in.
When my husband was diagnosed it added a new level of complexity as we not only had more foods to avoid but some things my son could eat but my husband couldn’t & vice versa. It was sometimes hard to find foods that they both could eat as many gluten free foods contain soy flour or potato flour, 2 things my son needed to avoid.
Since that time I have been working out substitutions and experimenting with recipes that we can all eat, such as this much used chocolate slice recipe . Some days I have success and other days I just want to give up. This blog shares some of that journey in the hope that I may help someone else.