We’re about six weeks into our latest elimination diet: no dairy, beef, oats, and corn.
Dairy: easy enough to get rid of, and we’ve already had months of practice with this. I know what you’re thinking, that you couldn’t live without cheese/butter/milk etc etc. But it really is one of the easier things to get rid of, in my opinion. Cheese is good, but it isn’t essential to a healthy diet. We sometimes use Daiya cheese for Gus, but in all honestly, it has some creepy ingredients and Gus doesn’t even really like cheese that much. If we have pizza, I just make him flat bread with olive oil – he doesn’t like red sauce or cheese on his pizza anyway, so we can eat eat regular cheese on ours and he doesn’t even care. Butter is replaced with olive oil, regular milk is replaced with almond milk, I’ve found vegan chocolate chips on the rare occasion I make cookies, we have coconut ice cream or sorbet instead of “real” ice cream.
Speaking of ice cream, that is one thing I find a little hard. We live very close to the downtown village area of Grosse Pointe, where I believe there are 4 ice cream parlors in two blocks. It would be nice to walk down in the summer for a cone, but there is absolutely nothing Gus can safely have. Even the sorbets are out (because of corn syrup). And god help us if the ice cream truck ever comes down our street, I’m not sure how to handle that one. It’s not the end of the world, just one of those things I associate with childhood/summer that we can’t really participate in.
Beef: not a big deal. We eat chicken, fish, pork, and turkey instead. If we do want something like a burger or steaks for dinner, we just make Gus a turkey burger or a piece of chicken. He really doesn’t do well with beef anyway, since his esophagus is narrow beef tends to be the hardest meat to swallow. The one thing that’s an issue, of course, is hot dogs. Because what do people serve at BBQs and to kids? Hot dogs. All beef kosher hot dogs are out, and the gross processed hot dogs have corn in them. Even turkey hot dogs have corn. I haven’t really explored vegetarian hot dogs yet. The other issue is that hot dog buns all contain dairy, corn, or oats, so I’d have to make them myself, and seriously . . . I do not know if I have the patience to bake a hot dog bun.
Oats: also not a big deal. We don’t eat oatmeal anyway, and any of the products that contain oats most likely contain dairy or corn anyway so we would already be avoiding.
Corn: But then there is corn. Oh good lord, corn is now my nemesis and I feel like I am fighting a battle not to fill my child with poisonous corn. Corn is in EVERYTHING. If you’re eating a processed food, it probably has corn in it. Just to get a picture of what we’re dealing with here, this is the list of products/ingredients that contain corn: http://www.cornallergens.com/list/corn-allergen-list.php
It’s on our fridge. It is five printed pages long.
Some of the shocking things we’ve had to find substitutes for:
- Baking powder (there is one brand that doesn’t contain corn starch)
- Yeast (also one brand that is not fed with corn)
- Vanilla (yep, one very expensive brand that is corn free)
- Mustard (cheap yellow mustard is now known as expensive organic yellow mustard – vinegar is distilled with corn)
- Flour (enriched flour is often enriched with corn derivatives)
I will start posting some of the products we have found that are corn free, but in general, our rule is: if it is packaged, it has corn. I make our own bread now, and almost all of our other food from scratch. We have been lucky enough to find products like pasta, plain chips, flour tortillas, and a few snacks from Trader Joe’s that are safe (and yes, we even wrote to them to verify the products).
Eating out at restaurants rarely happens, because there just aren’t things that Gus can eat. He can eat grilled meat, but many places that serve chicken use processed chicken that contains corn fillers. It’s kind of frustrating because sometimes with two working parents and 3 kids and another on the way you just want to get take-out, but I still have to make Gus something separate if we do that. Which kind of defeats the whole purpose of getting take out, right?
All that being said, things seem to be working. Gus is gaining weight, finally. 27.2 lbs this past week! Yes, still small for a 3.5 year old, but after being at 25 lbs for over a year this is huge. I’ve had people remarking that he looks healthier, that his face has filled out, that his dark circles are gone. He rarely throws up now. And he eats so much more than he used to. I made tilapia the other night and he was upset because he wanted more and it was all gone. It fills me with joy to watch him eat and grow. So yes, it is hard, hard work to eat like this, to always have to think about food and to spend so much more money on food that is safe, but it’s so, so worth it.