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Breastfeeding Allergen Elimination Diet Recap + Update

Today marks just over 2 weeks that I’ve eliminated the most common allergens in babies from my diet (Dairy, Soy, Chicken, Beef, Eggs, Gluten, Peanuts, Shellfish). I’ve actually been off of Dairy & Soy for over 4 weeks and just introduced Dairy on Friday… more on that later, and I’m sharing a big update. I hope that this helps mamas out there who find themselves in similar situations and need support when trying to figure out what to eat! You can also read my recap of how I went dairy & soy free for an entire year with a ton of resources here!

*Please note I’m not a medical professional or nutritionist. Always consult with your doctors before starting a diet like this! 

The Background

As a refresher, my daughter, Flora (4.5 months) has been suffering from severe Eczema since around 3.5 months. We’ve tried nearly every cream or lotion on the market and have been to the doctor countless times, changed our laundry detergent, tried different bath routines – and the bottom line is that none of these superficial changes have made a difference. We can’t for the life of us determine what causes her skin to flare up every other day. We are going to see an allergist and dermatologist but in the mean time I made the choice with my doctor to try eliminating the common allergens to see if she was possibly having an allergic reaction . The Eczema is worst on the sides of her face and her eyes (they get so swollen and itchy, it’s the saddest thing) but it spreads all over her body.  We are constantly trying to figure out what to dress her in to keep her comfortable and her hands covered since she’ll end up covered in scratches if left out!

Like I mentioned, her Eczema flares up just about every other day — and the only thing that works to keep it at bay is 1/2 % of cortisone cream, which is not a long term solution. After we used the cortisone for a few days I remember being in awe of her skin, it was baby soft, and smooth, like a healthy baby! It made me so happy for her, only to have it return as soon as we stopped the cortisone.

Oh, and she also stopped sleeping through the night when this started and hasn’t gotten back on track yet (there have been a FEW nights here and there).

 

How It Works

You eliminate the common allergens from your diet, which take up to 2 weeks to fully clear out of your milk supply. In theory, if your baby’s Eczema clears up in this time period it’s pretty likely to be a food allergy causing the Eczema,  in which case you slowly introduce the allergens and see what she reacts to. This is time consuming and can take weeks upon weeks. Since Flora’s skin has never really cleared up it’s going to be hard to tell. We are pretty confident she doesn’t have a dairy or soy allergy since I was off of them for over 4 weeks and she continued to have flare ups. I introduced dairy a few days ago and her skin has not been any worse.

breastfeeding allergen elimination diet

What I’m Eating

This diet is no joke! I will say the 2 weeks went by quickly, and we even were out of town for one long weekend and traveling turned out to be OK! If you have more time and energy you could get really creative with this diet — however I’m always scrambling for something to eat so I tried to keep things as simple as possible for myself. This diet is expensive if you want convenience. I shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and usually spend $200 a week since I’ve been on it it. SO here’s a run down !

The main foods I count on right now are sweet potatoes, turkey deli meat, ground turkey, avocado, rice crackers, nuts, GF pasta, Trader Joe’s Vegan Pesto and hummus — oh and french fries :)  While breastfeeding you are supposed to consume 500 extra calories a day and I’m always STARVING. I’ve been eating a lot of carbs on this diet and try to add calories wherever I can (opposite of normal life ha).

Kitchen Staples:

Soy-Free Earth Balance (tub for every day, sticks for baking)

Just Mayo

Primal Kitchen salad dressings

Kite Hill Ricotta for adding a creamy texture to pasta etc.

Raw cashews

Nutritional yeast

Breakfast:

Granola + almond milk + banana (I love Simply Elizabeth brand granola – it’s so tasty and keeps me full until lunch)

GF Bread ( Food For Life brand has no soy, dairy or egg – nearly every other GF bread at Whole Foods has other allergens) with almond butter and banana and honey

GF Bread + Avocado – I’ve yet to get creative here but the options for avocado toast are endless!

Oatmeal with almond milk, fruit, nuts and maple syrup

Lunch:

I really try to make enough dinner so I have leftovers but sometimes fall short! Then I’ll always eat….

Brown rice tortilla (Food For Life brand…) with deli sliced turkey (be sure to check ingredients), hummus, spinach, avocado and vegan pesto.

Turkey burger with avocado + salad ( I make these for the week on Mondays)

Dinner:

This is my favorite Kale Avocado Salad – I make it nearly every day and stretch out the dressing to last.

Creamy Pea + Spinach Pasta (I use Kite Hill Almond Milk Yogurt)

Burrito Bowls – I brown ground turkey, add a dash of taco seasoning and a can of fire roasted tomatoes and then top with black beans, brown rice, avocado, shredded kale, roasted sweet potatoes + red peppers. For a sauce I mix a little of Trader Joe’s cilantro avocado dressing with dairy free plain yogurt and it’s REALLY good! This is great, filling, easy dinner. I use the leftovers in meal-prep containers for lunches.

GF pasta with Trader Joe’s vegan pesto, peas and chickpeas

Salmon! Salmon is a go-to. Usually I just slather it with pesto and bake it because it’s so easy and good.

GF pasta with homemade turkey meatballs and homemade red sauce.

Homemade pizza – this takes a bit longer but you can make your own GF pizza crust and top with Kite Hill ricotta, veggies and salami. It’s really worth it on a Friday night :)

Sausage Sweet Potato & Kale Soup (just sub the chicken broth) – this soup is so delicious, I’ve been making it all winter.  This Cauliflower & Quinoa Soup is also on my list to try!

 

Snacks:

Tortilla chips + guac (I get the packets from Trader Joe’s and use them on nearly everything)

Hummus with GF crackers and veggies

Olives + salami

Smoothie: Almond milk, ice, cacao powder, almond butter, chia seeds, banana, oatmeal (SOOO good for an afternoon pick-me-up and filling)

Trail mix with cashews, Enjoy Life chocolate chips, banana chips

Dairy free soft “cheese” (Kite Hill or other brand) from Whole Foods with crackers

Almond Chocolate Chip Bars 

Veggie chips

How I’m Feeling

This has been a really trying, hard time on me. I keep reminding myself that our situation could be much, much worse. Flora is healthy for the most part but it’s extremely draining to exhaust all of your resources to try and help your baby, each time being so hopeful it will trigger change only to have nothing work. Not to mention she just seems so uncomfortable half of the time.

I feel like my milk supply has taken a big dip since I started on this diet and I’m very confident its because I’m not consuming enough calories – since there’s not much I can eat! This diet takes a lot of meal prep and planning, something that can be annoying when you have an infant and toddler! I’m pretty tired and lethargic but that’s most likely due to lack fo sleep :) ! Eating out is pretty much impossible — and I’m just hoping that this is all worth it to determine if Flora does indeed have some type of food allergy thats causing the Eczema to flare up, unfortunately so far it’s not looking like that’s the case.

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