Friday, March 16, 2007

ARGHHH!! Food Allergies!!

I am so frusterated by food allergies. Why do my children and I have them, and how can I get rid of them? There are so many theories and philosophies on the subject, and truly I just think no one really knows. One of the more frusterating things about my own food allergies is that I didn't think I had any (aside from the allergy to dairy that I have always had.) I didn't think I had any OTHER food allergies. Rachel started getting eczema around 3 months of age, and I knew enough to know that a food allergy was most likely the culprit. I already don't eat dairy, so I decided to go off wheat and sure enough, within 3 days, eczema gone! Bennett has had physical symptoms as well, but I was never sure what his trigger foods were.

When we moved to WA, we went to see the local naturopath doctor who sent us for blood testing to determine what exactly our allergies are. Granted, these tests are not 100% effective, but I figured they would give us some good information to go on. I was shocked when the results came back that I was allergic to gluten and eggs. I never had any symptoms after eating them, how could this be? The other thing was that the test rated how allergic a person is to different foods, non-reactive, moderate, or severe. I tested off the charts, past severe, reactive to gluten and eggs. (I also showed up moderately reactive to garlic and pineapple. Weird, I know.) Bennett tested moderately allergic to gluten which meant he should be able to eat gluten once every 4 days.

I have read that food allergies can get better if you stay off your trigger foods and allow time for your body to heal. With that goal, I was willing to give gluten-free a try for a year and then be retested to see if anything changed. During this trial period, instead of feeling better and like my body was healing, I seemed to be getting other problems (like IBS, I'll spare the details!) I didn't think I had before. Could it be that I have other food allergies that didn't show up? Am I eating more corn, for instance, since I can't have wheat? This is SO frusterating! Bennett used to have bumps on his legs that went away after he went off wheat, but he seems to have IBS as well. Rachel has been symptom free since I went off wheat and isn't fed any now that she eats real food. She seems to be doing the best out of all of us.

Enter pregnancy and morning sickness and the inability to eat much of anything but only wanting wheat foods. I fell off the GF bandwagon pretty hard and didn't feel like I was having any sypmtoms (In fact, my IBS seemed better). Within the first week of eating wheat, I started to notice I was getting headaches I wasn't getting before. I realized I needed to pay attention to when I was getting them and sure enough, it was after I ate wheat. Not only that, but the headaches have started getting worse with each wheat-eating episode. I had a sandwich yesterday and had a migraine that afternoon, and I don't get those normally! Jeromy doesn't believe that the wheat is giving me a headache, but I can't imagine I am crazy enough to be giving them to myself. I don't WANT to be allergic to wheat.

I was reading the Above Rubies website recently and came across the idea of culturing food (ie. saurkraut, kim chee, yogurt, kefir, beets, etc.). The process of culturing food creates the good bacteria (probiotics vs. antibiotics) that can in time heal a problematic digestive system when the good guys outnumber the bad guys. I like saurkraut well enough, so I will probably give it a try. My only question is.... How much saurkraut does one person have to eat? I'll keep you posted!


Mystie said...

Did you get headaches while pregnant with the other two? End of the first trimester and almost all the second I am always more susceptible to headaches and almost always had bad headaches in the afternoon. Could they be pregnancy and not food related?

I was talking to a formerly zealous and now only moderate natural-organic type; she had all her family do the blood allergy test and EVERYONE showed a gluten/dairy/eggs allergy, though only she had symptoms and going off it all for a year didn't make any changes and going back on it didn't make any difference. Same with Matt; he also showed a high gluten/dairy/eggs intolerance, but it turns out his problem was really high stomach acid.

We are disillusioned food allergy people; I'm not sure what to think about it all. You're right, I think nobody knows and therefore the quacky theories and remedies multiply.

The probiotic is a good idea. I just got some in pill form this week from Costco. I read that the amount of yogurt you have to eat to make a real difference is quite more than I'm willing to eat!

Matt Winckler said...

I second that; I've come to think the blood test is quirky and unreliable at best and total detritus at worst. I got the same sort of thing as you when I humored the naturopath and stayed off the allergens for about a month - plus crippling stomachaches (which were worse than "severe stomachaches", my normal symptoms). Went to a real doctor, got a prescription for Nexium, and have eaten whatever I please ever since.

Of course, Nexium wouldn't apply to rash/headache sorts of symptoms - those or other symptoms might be caused by some other as-yet-undiscovered problem. The point is that the experience utterly destroyed my confidence in the accuracy of blood tests for allergies. Food allergies may exist (sometimes there's a clear, immediate, and direct correlation between food and rashes or whatnot), but it's problematic when they're used as a catch-all root cause when other primary or secondary causes may exist.