November 29, 2008

Elimination Diet

How does one eat enough calories and get enough nutrition while on a elimination diet?

I believe the key is quantity. While breastfeeding you are to eat 500 calories more than your normal caloric intake plus adequate amounts of water to maintain your milk supply.

The Dr. Sears diet has you start by eating only turkey or lamb, baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, rice and millet, cooked green and yellow squash, and pears. Substitute rice milk for cereal or in cooking. I stretched this diet a bit and was not quite that strict.

For breakfast I ate rice crispies with rice milk and turkey bacon or cooked millet cereal. For lunch I ate turkey lunch meat and sweet potato soup mixed with rice. For dinner I had chicken, roasted potatoes, squash, and pears. I added different varieties of squash such as acorn squash and squash soup as well. I also ate two snacks and a before bedtime 'dessert' to make sure that I was getting enough calories. Not the most exciting diet but it did work. I also added a calcium, magnesium, and zinc supplement plus my normal pre-natal vitamin.

The Dr. Sears elimination diet recommends using this basic bland diet for 2 weeks before adding in new food categories. I didn't last that long. By the end of one week I was bored with my new diet and in search of new foods. My favorite find was cookies, granola, cereal bars, and bagels made my the company Enjoy Life. This company makes snack foods that are free of the common eight allergy foods (dairy, soy, gluten, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish). I especially loved the Snickerdoodle cookies. I did stay away from the chocolate snacks though.

My first add-on to my diet was avocado. Avocados are low allergenic risk and high in healthy fats which helped keep me full longer. I then added corn cereal and oatmeal, non-gassy vegetables such as carrots, peas, and green beans, and fruits such as peaches, apples, and bananas.

Once I had some basic variety I then starting challenging with the big food categories once a week. At this point, I had been on the elimination diet for approximately 3 weeks and my daughter was symptom-free. My first challenge was soy (I used soy yogurt) because soy is added to virtually every processed food product out there and is amazingly hard to avoid. Thankfully, my daughter had no reaction. However, I did limit my amount of soy to 1 serving per day to be cautious. My next challenge was wheat. I add wheat spaghetti noodles (avoid the tomato sauce). Again my daughter had no reaction. Having the ability to eat both soy and wheat products opened up my potential food options tremendously.

My next challenge was eggs. This one didn't go quite as well. I had a horrible stomachache about 1 hour after eating them. Then my daughter had a lot of spit-up after her next nursing session. That evening she developed skin irritation on her cheeks, an irritable stomach, and was generally much more fussy that usual.

At the point, 1 full month had passed and we were back at the pediatrician for a well check. Per my pediatrician's recommendations I did not challenge my daughter with peanuts and tree nuts.

Along the way we did have a few hiccups. I found that my daughter did not do well with chocolate. Exactly 12 hours after eating egg-free and dairy-free chocolate cake my daughter had serious stomach pains. At first I thought that it was unrelated, but then again exactly 12 hours after my next piece of cake the same symptoms re-emerged. I found that I could not eat guacamole. Apparently the spices and onions made her gassy. I also could not eat large quantities of tomato sauce (ie. spaghetti sauce) and so I had to avoid that as well. As my daughter got older and her stomach became more mature and I was able to add all of these foods back into my diet.

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