On again, off again

Dairy has been a food group of much contention in our house over the past year.  First, Matthew tested positive for a dairy allergy (at least according to one type of test) and subsequently went on an elimination diet.  He was part way through the “challenge phase” of the diet, where you add various forms of dairy back into your diet in a specific order (ghee, butter, yogurt, hard cheese, soft cheese, milk), when The Dude came along.

We had agreed ahead of time that it didn’t make sense for him to continue with the elimination diet once the little one arrived (by that time he was up to “hard cheese” anyway), what with the influx of donated meals.  We were already specifying vegetarian meals, and adding “no dairy” on top of that seemed too complicated.

However, after a few weeks of a very fussy baby, MY dairy consumption became the focus of attention.  Certain proteins in the mother’s diet can pass undigested into breast milk and cause problems for the baby, and dairy proteins are a major culprit, although it is relatively rare (estimates from various sources range from 1 in 100 to 5 in 100).  We consumed most of the dairy-containing food in the house, and then I went cold turkey.

Eight weeks of scrupulously avoiding any dairy, including most foods prepared for us by others, restaurant meals, etc.  Eight frustrating weeks where I really wasn’t sure if it was making a difference for Gabriel, or if I was going to a lot of trouble for nothing.  And then a few weeks ago, I started adding dairy back into my diet.  Not in any particular order — just trying to avoid eating “too much” on any given day.

Since then, The Dude’s poops have taken on a strange consistency — very mucous-y, with a few little streaks of blood on occasion — and, in retrospect, he’s had more issues with gas.  At first, I chalked it up to a bit of a stomach bug, but when it continued, I looked it up, and, you guessed it, the stool changes were consistent with a dairy sensitivity.

So it’s out with the dairy once again.  I’m willing to make the sacrifice if it actually helps him, and at least this time, I have something concrete (or not) to monitor for improvement.

Dairy-free trial

Matthew is in the middle of a 4-week-long dairy-free trial after a he tested positive for dairy allergies a few months ago.  For obvious reasons (ahem, gelato and cheese), we put off the elimination diet until after our Italy trip.  He also hoped that a trip to the allergist for a skin prick test would shed more light on some other potential food allergens that he might want to test with elimination.

Possible culprits for him, based on the blood test, include apples, hazelnuts (which could indicate ALL tree nuts), and peanuts (which could indicate ALL legumes) — a pretty bleak list when you’re looking at from the point of good sources of vegetarian protein.  Granted, he’s been eating these foods for years, so he clearly doesn’t have the acute, anaphylactic shock-type allergies that some people have, but there’s a chance he might feel better, and experience relief from some issues, including asthma, eczema, and some tummy problems, by cutting out certain foods.

The allergist and skin prick test provided little additional information in terms of the food allergies, so he decided to go ahead and start with eliminating dairy, since that was his highest allergy according to the blood test.  For a guy who loves ice cream, cheese, and baking with butter, four dairy-free weeks is not something to take lightly.

Come back tomorrow to find out how we’re making it work.  Hint: homemade dairy-free ice cream 🙂