So, what CAN I eat?


Let me begin this post by saying that many of my colleagues are hesitant to suggest that a mother consider eliminating one or more foods from her diet; they are worried that “one more thing” will make a mother not want to breastfeed her baby.  My perspective is a little different, because when my babies were suffering, I knew:

  1. If something is wrong with my baby, breastfeeding is definitely NOT to blame, because it is the biological norm.
  2. Galactosemia is an incredibly rare condition, so the likelihood that my baby is “allergic to my milk” is extremely small.
When I changed my diet 9 years ago and saw marked improvement in both my baby and in myself, I was discouraged by the dismissive attitude of my healthcare providers at the time, who refused to confirm any connection between maternal diet and sensitivities in an exclusively breastfed baby.  What I didn’t know in 2002 when my little one was showing signs of allergy was that my diet was not normal.  I have a broader understanding now of what the Standard American Diet is, what it is not, and what our bodies are biologically programmed to need in terms of nutrition.
Here’s a hint:  processed foods, genetically-modified organisms (GMO’s), milk/dairy products from another species, soy/corn derivatives, and the wheat that’s being grown and distributed in the U.S. today are not consistent with what’s biologically normal.  With that in mind, I present to you information that I have picked up over the years as a food-sensitive mother with three food-sensitive children.  I’m not a nutritionist or dietitian, just a mom who’s had to figure out how to feed my family and keep each member healthy and comfortable.
You may be at that point in your breastfeeding journey where you’ve tried everything to temper an oversupply of milk, or you’re discouraged because your baby is showing signs of food allergy or sensitivity and you’re exclusively breastfeeding – indicating that something in your diet is causing the trouble.  You’ll do anything to stop the pained crying and keep your baby happy, but a diet of salad and air isn’t sustainable!  What can you do?

First, keep in mind that green poop, a red ring around your baby’s anus, bloody poop, diaper rash, gas, skin rashes, and extreme fussiness may be common symptoms, but they are NOT normal!! (More about this here)  Many pediatricians dismiss these occurrences as “part of being a baby” (mine did), but you may be able to alleviate these symptoms by improving your own health.

Please note my last statement:  you can help your baby by helping yourself.  Many mothers consider elimination diets “sacrificial,” but in reality, they can be helpful and healing to both mother and baby if food allergies and sensitivities are what’s plaguing your little one.

Some important points to consider, and to discuss with your healthcare providers:

  • Remember that this change in your diet doesn’t have to be forever.  Many babies can tolerate small amounts of offending proteins that pass to them in breastmilk after the 6- or 9-month mark.  Take one day at a time, and know, without question, that if your baby is struggling with breastmilk, he will do far worse on regular baby milk preparations, which are made from the allergens you’re trying to avoid!  The available preparations for highly sensitive babies are very expensive and don’t offer the other protections from allergy and disease your milk provides.
  • It can take awhile for all allergenic proteins to leave your body and your baby’s body.  Be patient.  Allow at least a week of total elimination before deciding the particular food wasn’t your problem.  Even a tiny bit of the offender can cause symptoms.
  • Learn how to read labels.  The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network offers an excellent guide for consumers about how to translate ingredient names so you know what you’re actually eating (click link to see guide).
  • Unsure your diet is causing the trouble?  Keep a log of what you’re eating and another log of how your baby behaves.  Watch sleeping, fussy periods, diaper content and frequency, rashes, and anything else that raises a question for you.  It may be that something you ate on Monday affects your baby on Thursday – so keep that in mind as you look for correlations.
  • Some practitioners recommend eliminating one allergen at a time, while others suggest you take a total elimination approach from the beginning.  I tell mothers to do what they feel like they can do, and if improvement doesn’t occur, to go a little further.  For many of the mothers I have worked with, eliminating dairy and soy brought significant, but not complete relief; eliminating eggs and gluten brought further improvement, and sometimes even allowed mothers to reintroduce dairy in small amounts again as long as they kept the gluten out of their diets … so it might not have to be “all or nothing.”  This link to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s clinical protocol, Allergic Proctocolitis in the Exclusively Breastfed Infant, asserts that cow’s milk allergy is the most common, and that many babies improve significantly after their mothers eliminate all dairy.
  • Look at the world according to what you CAN eat, rather than what you can’t!  This approach has been vital for me – the day before I gave up gluten, I felt like I was marching to the gallows … but opening my eyes to all the wonderful food possibilities out there has helped me so much (plus I feel better).
  • Consider whether “substitutes” for various allergens are really necessary long-term.  Keep in mind that many babies are as intolerant of soy as of dairy, so soy “milks” or other products may not be good choices (I’ve seen lots of mothers switch from dairy to soy, see no improvement, and mistakenly assume allergens were not the problem).
  • Likewise, gluten-free replacements for breads, baked goods, and pasta can be very expensive and may be disappointing in flavor and texture – while they might be valuable short-term to help you cross the bridge to a changed diet, consider whether they have a place in your diet long-term.
  • The fewer packaged, processed, “convenience foods” in your diet, the easier it will be to eliminate allergens.  Whole, real foods (think the perimeter of your grocery store) will be nutrient-dense and satisfying.
  • Have your baby evaluated by an IBCLC or pediatrician “in the know” for tongue-tie (ankyloglossia).  Not only does this condition cause some symptoms that look like food sensitivities (spitting up, reflux-like discomfort), it seems to appear more frequently in babies with food sensitivities and mothers with leaky gut.  See this link for an outstanding resource you can take with you to the pediatrician.
  • If you haven’t already, talk to your pediatrician and do some research on probiotics, for both you and your baby.  These beneficial bacteria are absolutely vital for keeping your gut healthy and crowding out “bad bugs.”  Many pediatricians are recommending powdered probiotics for babies, administered as a small amount on mother’s nipple before baby latches on to feed.  Here’s one link to start with: The claim: Probiotics can soothe a colicky baby.

I am by no means a nutritionist or dietitian – I speak only as a mother who has suffered with food intolerances all my life and eliminated allergens while breastfeeding my own three babies.  Here are my suggestions and resources for foods and meals that can be delicious, satisfying ingredients to a healthy, healing lifestyle for you and your family:

Avocadoes

  • Guacamole with garlic, lime juice, and chopped cilantro
  • Mashed avocado with black beans, lime juice, chopped cilantro, served warm over wild rice or cold over salad greens
  • Avocado slices with unrefined salt, or cubes on a salad
  • Not an avocado person?  Try making chocolate pudding with it!

Bananas

  • Bananas lend a silky, satisfying texture to fruit smoothies.  Try freezing them first!
  • Gluten-free baked goods with bananas tend to retain a moist, dense character better than options not banana-based.
  • Banana “ice cream,” anyone?

 Vegetables

I have seriously never met a roasted vegetable I didn’t like.  Even rutabagas and turnips get sweet and delicious after they’ve been roasted.  To roast a vegetable, peel and chop into uniform pieces, arrange in a single layer in a roasting pan, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and coarse sea salt, and roast in a 425-degree oven for 20-minute intervals, turning the veggies each time the timer beeps.  Most veggies are done in 40 minutes, but others like to be roasted a little bit longer.  Be prepared to be amazed at how delicious this makes even the least popular of vegetables!  My family’s favorites include:

  • Beets (cubed)
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts (trim stem end and cut each sprout in half)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Parsnips
  • Sweet potatoes

Pickled veggies are also a favorite – not just cucumbers, but asparagus, green beans, or giardiniera mix are great snacks or side items for lunch.

Blended soups from summer vegetables are easy to make and can be served hot or cold.  Gazpacho, zucchini soup, or a puree made from potatoes and vegetables are easy and delicious.

Fruits

  • Fresh pineapple is an indulgence – even better if it’s sliced and broiled briefly, until slightly caramelized.  Add a touch of honey if it’s not sweet enough for you!
  • Smoothies are incredibly easy – choose frozen, organic, pre-sliced fruits (NO SYRUP or SWEETENERS), blend with canned coconut milk and a little water for a sweet, satisfying treat.  If you want to get a little crazy, pour the smoothie into ice pop molds and freeze until solid!
  • Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate?  Yes, please!
  • Make a quick and easy fruit salad with canned (in JUICE, not syrup) mandarin orange sections and pineapple tidbits.  Add sliced banana and chopped mint or basil for a special touch.
  • Unsulphured dried fruits (apricots, prunes, raisins) are portable and make a delicious, satisfying snack with a handful of almonds or cashews.  (If you’re watching calories, be aware that these are very calorie-dense.)
  • Add chopped apples or pears to chicken or cabbage salad – raisins are terrific, too.
  • Have you ever poached summer stone fruits, like plums and nectarines?  Or made balsamic macerated strawberries? (I’m not recommending non-dairy whipped topping as a healthy food, but if you don’t mind the occasional dose of chemicals, a little dollop is pretty yummy on these berries and shouldn’t cause a reaction in your baby.)
  • Gelatin desserts, with fruit or juice, aren’t difficult to make if you don’t want to eat commercially-prepared Jell-O.

Grains

  • If you eliminate gluten from your diet, you may find it was in nearly everything if you ate a lot of packaged or processed foods.  Be careful, because many gluten-free substitutes contain corn and oats, which also cause trouble for some highly sensitive individuals.  Even gluten-free oats might be difficult for some people to digest.  Eliminating these in the beginning, then carefully adding them back in as you figure out what affects your baby is a good strategy.
  • Quinoa is a complete-protein grain (it’s technically a seed) and can substitute for wheat in tabouli … it’s also delicious on its own or as a base for salads or stuffed peppers.
  • Rice is in many gluten-free items, as well.  I prefer wild rice or wild rice blends.  Be sure to choose brown rice over white if rice becomes a staple in your diet.  Coconut rice and beans can be made in a crock pot – exotic and delicious (I’ve done this recipe and used brown basmati instead of white – comes out fine).

Leafy Greens

  • I was not a fan of leafy green vegetables until I learned there’s more out there than lettuce and spinach!
  • Peppery greens like arugula and mustard greens are great accents to a green salad.
  • Napa cabbage is mild and a delicious base for a salad or slaw.
  • Round heads of cabbage are easily chopped and sautéed with coconut oil and seasonings of your choice for a quick, healthy lunch.  Add ready-to-eat sausage or some mushrooms for a little more oomph.
  • Kale chips!  Easy, delicious, and kid-friendly!
  • Add any kind of leafy green vegetable to soups during the last few minutes of cooking.  Favorites in our family are bok choy (my kids call it “chazel,” so it makes “chazel soup!”), mustard greens, and kale, chopped up small enough to just fit right in.  Lentil soup, chicken soup, or soups with garlic-based broths all welcome leafy greens!

Meats/fish

  • Whenever possible, choose locally-pastured meats and poultry.  These will have the best nutrition profile and flavor.  Too expensive?  Eat less of them – back down to once or twice a week and eat vegetarian the other days.
  • Be sure your store-bought chickens, turkeys, or hams are not injected with gluten-containing broths or fillers.  No ingredient list?  Call the 1-800 number on the label before you buy.
  • Avoid pre-seasoned fish – these spice mixes often contain hidden allergens.
  • A roast beef, pork, or chicken/turkey, roasted potatoes with herbs or roasted root vegetables, and a green vegetable or salad makes a satisfying meal that requires no substitutes – everyone in the family can eat it and it’s all in its original state!
  • Leftovers can be chopped and made into salads or put in soups or rice dishes.
  • Make a terrific gluten-free gravy by substituting rice flour, potato starch, or corn starch (if you’re not avoiding corn) for flour.
  • Miss your daily sandwich?  Choose gluten-free deli meats and make roll-ups – ham around a pineapple spear is a favorite, or turkey with hummus spread before rolling, or salami wrapped around a baby dill pickle or pickled asparagus spear — delicious!

Nuts/seeds

  • Look for baked goods recipes that use almond flour or almond meal.  Every one I’ve had has been a winner.
  • Avoid flavored nuts – many have hidden allergens.
  • Look online for things you can do with cashews!  We’ve enjoyed a “cheesecake” made from soaked cashews; cashew “cream” is another popular option.
  • Struggling for a breakfast option?  This granola is amazing … but extremely calorie-dense, so enjoy in moderation!

Potatoes

  • Roasted potatoes are delicious.  Enough said.  Sea salt and parsley put them over the edge!
  • Mashed potatoes are easily made dairy-free … add a little chicken broth for some “body” if you want.  Roasted garlic is another decadent addition.
  • Potato salads can be vinegar-based or mayonnaise-based – if you’re avoiding eggs, the vegan mayonnaises can be suitable stand-ins.
  • If you’re not planning to freeze leftovers, cubed potatoes make an excellent addition to vegetable or other soups in place of pasta.  Potatoes don’t freeze well, so if you’re planning to freeze some of the soup, separate that portion out before you add your potatoes.
  • If you love breakfast hash browns but aren’t eating butter, try cooking your shredded potatoes in a little coconut oil – the texture will be the same and don’t worry, the coconut oil doesn’t make your food taste like a piña colada!

Sauces, dressings, extras

  • Vegan mayonnaise makes a suitable base for salad and slaw dressings – I like cider vinegar (rice vinegar if I’m looking for a sweeter flavor), celery salt, and a little orange or pineapple juice (I save what comes in the fruit cans!) whisked together with Veganaise is delicious over shredded napa cabbage or broccoli stems!
  • Basic marinara sauce, if you’re not avoiding tomatoes, is always a favorite.
  • Homemade ketchup is easy and quite delicious – make up a batch and it keeps for weeks in the fridge.  Mix with veganaise and pickle relish for an allergen-free thousand island dressing!
  • There are many widely-available nut butters today – try one if you’re avoiding peanuts.
  • Be sure if you’re using prepared broths or boullion, they are gluten-free and dairy-free … I’ve been very surprised by the ingredients in some of those items.

Stand-bys

  • Salads
  • Hummus
  • Chili
  • Roasts
  • Vegetables, in their natural state (no flavor packs or sauces)
  • Nuts
  • Fresh fruits
  • Unprocessed, unpackaged foods
  • If you have to go with “convenience foods,” read the labels – organic is usually best but know what you’re getting!
  • Potatoes, rice (I prefer wild rice)
  • Coconut milk (I like canned but the refrigerated varieties that come in cartons in the alternative milk section of the grocery store are also good)

 Delicious resources

These are the websites I’ve visited most frequently for ideas when I get into a food rut.  I’m amazed by how much is available for those of us who choose to avoid allergens.

http://www.glutenfreegirl.com

http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

http://glutenfreeville.com/featured/100ideas (Gluten-free lunchbox ideas)

http://www.livingwithout.com

http://www.therawdessert.com

http://www.adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com

This website is one that recently crossed into my consciousness and it’s AMAZING!  She adapts recipes to fit any elimination diet, so you don’t have to!

http://realsustenance.com/

There are also lots of cookbooks available – the sky is the limit and once you’ve gotten into the habit of eating without allergens, it gets easier; but nothing will compare to the relief that comes from seeing your baby comfortable again – and you may be surprised by how fabulous you feel, too. It’s a delicious world!

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60 thoughts on “So, what CAN I eat?

  1. Great Article! I’ve had to greatly modify my diet for my son. It’s been worth it though. When we was a newborn he screamed nonstop and threw up a lot. Once I realized that he couldn’t handle dairy (and a few other things too), and removed them, my crabby baby turned into a happy baby (and also that bloody red ring around his bottom healed too!). More people should be willing to sacrifice to give what’s best for their baby!

    • Hi Kristi, thanks for reading and for your comment. I’m glad to hear some diet modifications helped relieve your baby’s symptoms. Hopefully, some tips I shared here will make diet changes not so much a “sacrifice” and moms can also enjoy the benefits of a healthier diet. :)

  2. Diana, This is so fabulous!!! I quite often am recommending for moms to do elimination diets, as I know first hand how diet effects the mind and body. We found out that my son was gluten intolerant when he was five (after battling a plethora of developmental delays from Day 1!!!) I have been wanting to write something like this for my clients and now I don’t have to….I can just refer them to this article! Thank you for all you do for moms and babies!!!

    • Thanks for reading, Robin, and thanks for your comment. I’m so glad to hear you will share with mothers — I hope it makes the diet modifications less daunting and maybe even pleasant … if the reward of a calmer, happier baby isn’t enough. Remind mothers to click the links to the recipes — I purposely chose easy ones so busy moms could see that being healthy doesn’t have to mean living life in the kitchen. :)

  3. This is an awesome article, BTDT! I do have a couple of comments – should be a caution with wild rice (See http://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/topic/25551-is-wild-rice-gluten-free-may-be-a-dumb-but-ive-heard-yes-and-no/ ) It takes 2-4 weeks of total elimination to clear out dairy cause it sticks so bad in our systems. Lettuce wraps should be in your sandwich section and also you could add sushi (anything wrapped in nori with rice.) Making your own almond flour in coffee grinder is a breeze!

  4. Diane, Awesome info. Mothers don’t even realize how poorly they felt on the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). Reflux, sinus problems, aching joints, depression, infertility, pcos, can all be improved by this diet. Allergens inflame the body and cause the body to be stressed, releasing too many stress hormones and interfering with good health….

  5. Diana,
    Your post validates what my family has discovered over the last year: my 11-year-old is gluten intolerant and also had a tongue-tie (which has been clipped). My gut feeling was that the two were related and so I am excited to read that you believe that there is a link as well. We have also found that banana in waffles and quick breads makes the gluten-free variety less crumbly. And the whole family has been enjoying Kale Chips for years. I look forward to exploring some of your ideas that we haven’t yet tried. Thank you for this wonderful and validating resource!

    • Alyssa, I’m thrilled to hear this was helpful for you. I’d love to see more research on the tongue-tie/food sensitivity connection, as well as the oversupply/food sensitivity connection. I actually see the three (TT, oversupply, and food sensitivity) together more often than not and I suspect it all ties into maternal leaky gut (I’m thinking malabsorption of nutrients in pregnancy leads to sensitization and midline defects in the baby … then lets the offending allergens into the bloodstream/milk/baby after delivery — but I’m not sure I have an exact theory for the mechanism by which this causes oversupply, only that I’ve seen so many oversupply cases resolve with change in maternal diet). Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      • One mechanism for food reaction => oversupply link I’ve heard is: milk production is connected to white blood cell and mucous production, which are both heavily involved with the immune system and, therefore, our systems of inflammation. When we’re inflamed, that can send milk production through the roof, just like it can cause chronic respiratory and sinus congestion, collection of WBCs in the form of pus, etc.

        No idea on the scientific validity… it made sense to my laymom’s knowledge, thhough.

  6. I eliminated dairy a year ago. I thought I was going to die without my dairy products! But 6 weeks later, my baby boy finally stop screaming and the bloody poo cleared. Then, realized I was feeling better too! (Then proceded to lose10 lbs by doing nothing!) So many people don’t understand it’s not a sacrifice, it’s a gift to me and my baby. Thank you for the wonderful suggestions, I can’t wait to try some. But after reading this, I just wish I wasn’t allergic to bananas :)

    • Thanks for reading and for sharing your experience, Juanita! I had a similar experience of feeling terrific once I was off the dairy. I’ve since been able to add a small amount back into my diet, but definitely not as a staple. I definitely tried to capture that aspect of better help for the dyad, not just the baby, when the mother moves to a healthier diet with whole foods. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  7. Hey Diana. Our four-month old preemie, Leah, has been colicky throughout her stay with us, but after her pediatrician noted blood in her stool she recommended that my wife, Krista, eliminate all dairy from her diet. Since then, thankfully, Leah has been doing and feeling much better. It has been a difficult sacrifice on Krista’s part because she loves all things milk and cheese, but also well worth it. I am forwarding her a link to your blog to her with the hope that she will feel encouraged by your words and helped by your food suggestions. Thanks and keep up the good work!

    • Hi Adam! I’m so glad to hear that Krista might find this post helpful in her breastfeeding journey — and I’m even happier to hear that the pediatrician suggested a maternal diet modification instead of a switch away from breastfeeding. I was able to slowly re-introduce dairy as my babies got older, but I found I didn’t crave it as intensely as time passed. Now, I have the occasional cheese or yogurt, but dairy is not the staple in my diet that it once was.

      It’s great to hear from you and thanks for reading and commenting. :)

  8. Nice job. I hear these complaints from many of my moms in my breastfeeding group. Just to clarify, Galactosemia is not a milk allergy. It is rare metabolic disorder that leads to e. coli sepsis, live failure and death. It is checked on newborn screening and baby would have SEVERE symptoms in early days of life from consuming lactose and galactose in breast/cow’s milk.

    • Hi Dana! Thanks for reading and for your comment. Thanks also for your clarification on galactosemia. It’s a common misconception, which is why I put “allergic to my milk” in quotes and linked to a more extensive article on the condition. At 1/60,000 babies, galactosemia is not something mothers need to be on the lookout for — yet, it is what they assume their babies have when someone (incorrectly) tells them their babies were “allergic to their milk.” Please let me know if there’s a way I can be more clear about this in my post and I’ll make a revision.

      • “What is galactosemia?

        Galactosemia is a disorder that affects how the body processes a simple sugar called galactose. A small amount of galactose is present in many foods. It is primarily part of a larger sugar called lactose, which is found in all dairy products and many baby formulas. The signs and symptoms of galactosemia result from an inability to use galactose to produce energy.

        Researchers have identified several types of galactosemia. These conditions are each caused by mutations in a particular gene, and affect different enzymes involved in breaking down galactose. Classic galactosemia, also known as type I, is the most common and most severe form of the condition. Galactosemia type II (also called galactokinase deficiency) and type III (also called galactose epimerase deficiency) cause different patterns of signs and symptoms.

        If infants with classic galactosemia are not treated promptly with a low-galactose diet, life-threatening complications appear within a few days after birth. Affected infants typically develop feeding difficulties, a lack of energy (lethargy), a failure to gain weight and grow as expected (failure to thrive), yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice), liver damage, and bleeding. Other serious complications of this condition can include overwhelming bacterial infections (sepsis) and shock. Affected children are also at increased risk of delayed development, clouding of the lens of the eye (cataract), speech difficulties, and intellectual disability. Females with classic galactosemia may experience reproductive problems caused by ovarian failure.” http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition=galactosemia

        I guess I don’t believe that baby’s are “allergic” to breastmilk at all. I think, as you have pointed out so clearly and simply, that it’s something IN the breastmilk that causes the reaction. I agree with you that people confuse allergic to with a lot of other more serious conditions or even with the word “tolerance” – as in my baby cannot tolerate cow’s milk formula because it’s gives him GI upset. In the case of CLASSIC Galactosemia (there are variants), the baby would succumb from infection or liver failure if the continue to ingest lactose and galactose found in milk and certain baby foods. I hope this wasn’t too wordy. Thanks for your blog – I”m now folowing!

  9. Thank you, Dana! That’s great … my galactosemia link was to a similar site but it’s great to have the definition right here in the comments in case folks aren’t clicking the links. Not too wordy at all — and thank you for following! I hope to continue to provide good information for breastfeeding mothers and their supporters. :)

  10. From what I understand, a one week elimination of a food is not sufficient to rule out that food as problematic. From what I have been told, certain foods persist in both mom and baby’s systems longer. Milk protein can take 3-4 weeks to get out of mom’s system, and then several more weeks to get out of the baby’s system completely. So in that case I would suggest a minimum of two months before considering challenging with that food. Gluten also takes a substantial amount of time. It is also important to consider that any food that is increasing gut permeability in the mom is going to continue to allow intact food proteins to enter the mom’s bloodstream and her breastmilk. Healing mom’s gut is often the key to healing the baby’s gut. Diets like Paleo and GAPS are very helpful.

    • Thank you for this comment! I have also read and learned that some antigens are more difficult to completely eliminate and can take longer than one week, most mothers see at least some improvement at the one-week mark, but I agree a challenge of that food is not advised at that point. And your point about emphasizing gut healing is so important, too — as I mentioned, I’ve seen lots of babies become less reactive when their mothers eliminated gluten. The healthier maternal gut prevents irritants (in amounts small enough to not cause further damage in the mother) from passing into mother’s bloodstream. There is so much to keep learning on this topic and I’m thankful you shared some of your wisdom here. :)

      • What we usually suggest newbies do is, eliminate a food (or multiple foods, if they’re up to it) that they suspect, and wait a week. If there’s no significant improvement, eliminate other foods… but DON’T add the others back in.

        Why? Because sometimes, different foods cause similar reactions. So you eliminate Food A, no improvement. If you add it back, and then eliminate Food B, and see no improvement, you haven’t determined that either food is safe… only that you’re still eating a problem food.

        Instead, you keep adding to the elimination list, until you get to “baseline,” which is just absence of symptoms. *Then* you start challenging foods (if you want to… for a lot of moms, when you get to that point where your baby isn’t crying all night and covered in welts, you just don’t want to mess with it!).

  11. Thanks for this! Both my kids have been sensitive to foods in my diet and have improved dramatically when I eliminated dairy and eggs. Many people feel sorry for me or apologize to me that my diet is restricted but honestly, it’s worth it for the change I see in how my baby feels! We have found, as you mention, that we are all better because we have listened to these sensitivities because now we don’t buy packaged foods and eat more fresh produce.
    I also had over supply issues with both babies. To me it seemed the mehanism was that nursing soothed them while they were nursing but then hey spit up a lot of what they drank. Spitting up and the food sensitivities upset the babies which led to more nursing, further increasing my supply! I used a pacifier to soothe them until my supply leveled out by then the “dummies” didn’t trick my smart babies anymore anyway!

  12. I accidentally stumbled upon this post, but it was just what I needed! I have been vegan for 12 years (major dislike for meat products and dairy allergies) and had no troubles with my first son during his breastfeeding years. Then enter my second son in October 2011 – seemed like it could have been colic, but I had no clue what colic really meant, and he was always at his worst before a bowel movement. Mucousy poops were a standard, and my mom (a neonatal nurse) was unsettled by the consistency of them. I went to the pediatrician and he suggested an elimination diet, starting with soy since I already stay away from dairy. No improvement after two weeks, so I chose Thanksgiving as my end date of gluten – I was terrified of what a world without soy or gluten meant for my vegan diet. I went overboard on Thanksgiving – seitan and stuffing galore. Black Friday took on a whole new meaning for me! My poor boy was a complete wreck that day. I kept away from all gluten and tried my best to console him. Saturday, however, was glorious. He barely cried. He slept soundly. He didn’t wake up to poop – just slept through it. I was amazed at the difference. I have periodically tried bits of gluten and soy since that day and have had similar results: discomfort or pain before poops. The one thing that I still question is the consistency of his bowel movements – they are still mucousy and he tends to get rashes. I truly am at the point of wondering what else I’ll be able to eat if I cut more out, though. I have accepted where we are at because he is comfortable and SO happy! But, I wondered if you might have suggestions of where to go next?

  13. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou! Your first paragraph really resonates with me, as it took 9 – 10 months for me to realise what was making my boy such an upset baby. I had people telling me it wouldn’t be allergies, they are so rare. It wasn’t until he had his first cows milk (on cereal), then soy milk (again on cereal) and omelette that it clicked. Elimination of all these things from him and me and he is a different baby. I wish all those professionals (health nurses, LC’s, GP’s, sleep school nurses) had just thought outside the square for a moment and made some practical suggestions rather than “all babies cry” or “it’s normal for a baby to scream themselves to sleep for up to an hour”. He also had a rash I was told to just cover with sorbolene. Makes me sad now, that my boy had to have such a difficult and drawn out beginning. Thankyou :)

    • Oh and I totally agree with thinking about what you CAN eat! Write a YES list, and the idea of going grocery shopping won’t be so depressing any more.

  14. So glad to see this article. My kids fortunately were not highly sensitive and an elimination diet helped both of them immensely and very quickly. The offending food for DD1 was cow milk products – goat milk was fine. The offending food for DS2 was Nutter Butters!! (and other similar processed cookies) I like your approach, which is similar to what I have used. I have had friends go to test after test and not find anything and get frustrated with not finding results, but then REFUSED To do an elimination diet!! I will certainly be passing this article along.
    sometimes, mom just knows best! :)

  15. Great article! I’ll post a link to it on the Foodlab Yahoo Group, which has a LOT of nursing moms (and former nursing moms… who stick around to help out others).

    I first discovered my oldest was allergic to wheat when he was nine months old. A friend suggested it when I was concerned that his pooping pattern had never changed when he left the newborn period. A week after my last wheat, I had a whole new baby… it was glorious! He also turned out to be reactive to dairy, too. His brother reacts to both corn and eggs (as well as dairy). No big surprise… both I and my husband have reactions, different ones, to dairy, and both my sons were born by (unplanned, unnecessary) c-sections. :-/

    Interestingly, both are somewhat tongue-tied; the older one is definitely moreso, and it took us a while to learn a good latch. My diet was AWFUL during that first pregnancy (and I had no idea… I thought I ate “Healthy”, because that word was on the boxes in my freezer!).

  16. Wow!! This is me now. I have always had food intolerances and am learning more and more every day. Turns out my 13 mth old is dairy intolerant at present also!! Great article. I will enjoy looking over these resources the next couple days!!

  17. Dear Diana,

    My name is Lejla Kapidzic, I’m from Bosnia&Herzegovina, and I’m a memeber of parents’ association DjeCa BiH (Children). I’m trained PEER consultant for breastfeeding, and my work is to promote and support breastfeeding. Our B&H society are still poisoned with old „pro breastfeeding“ advices and total lack of breastfeeding confidence, as such completely unfriendly for young mothers who wish to breastfeed their children.
    I find your text very useful, specially because it is form breastfeeding mother perspective.
    I kindly ask you for permission to translate it in Bosnian, and publish it on my association’s web portal http://www.djeca.org, in educational purposes only of course, and with link to your original text and to your blog page. Please contact me on my mail jagodica75@gmail.com. Thank you.

  18. I love the focus on what to eat and not what you can’t. I would mention if your child is sensitive to nut or peanut that could also trigger a reaction. Both of my kids could not tolerate me eating any kind of nut while nursing.

  19. And there I thought the soy milk would help! Thanks for the article! This is exactly I my situation…the third time around too!

  20. Hi Diana, This blog post has been so helpful. I had been doing an elimination diet to try and identify the cause of my son’s terrible eczema and rash, but was not exactly sure what I was doing. Now I have a clear plan and feel much better myself about what I CAN eat vs. what I can’t. I think he is starting to improve too! My only concern now is that my milk supply seems to be going down. We had a lot of trouble early on with this, and finally got things going and got him on my milk from the breast 100% so I am hyper sensitive to any change. I am worried that the change in my diet might be affecting my supply. What should I do? I can’t stand to see my son in pain because of the food reactions, but we worked so hard to be able to breastfeed and I don’t want to jeopardize my supply.

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  27. I am so excited that I found this! I can’t even put into words how helpful and encouraging this is. I’ve been exclusively breast feeding my 2 month old and trying to eliminate anything that I read could be a problem. Because I haven’t had a great resource of what i CAN eat, I’ve accidentally slipped up (i.e. Eggs or soy in something unexpected) and then, when i do find out, i feel so guilty and feel like I’m poisoning my baby with my breastmilk. It’s been heartbreaking! I’ve also been giving her the probiotics and think the pain would be a lot worse without them

  28. I have a month-old baby who is exclusively breastfed (ok, sometimes he gets bottles of pumped milk– but he’s certainly exclusively breast milk fed) and I recently decided to eliminate dairy to see if it would help with, what seemed to us, increasing fussiness. I picked dairy because it’s a huge staple of my diet (always has been) and, while my husband was skeptical at first (also a dairy lover), we’ve noticed small but steady improvement in just the first five days. His skepticism was actually helpful in the sense that it gave us a semi-impartial observer (instead of me simply exaggerating or fabricating any improvements). After finding this article: http://www.wjpch.com/UploadFile/003%20%2011-194.pdf I’m even more convinced it may be a milk allergy, as my baby started to develop some very mild eczema and my dad thought his breathing seemed somewhat labored. Anyway, I’ve been quite diet-conscious for many years now (following a loose paleo diet for the most part, with the obvious exception of dairy) but having to cut out milk products just turns my world upside down– so with that, I really appreciate your list of food suggestions and the links that follow. This may sound strange, but I just get so confused about what to eat if it doesn’t have milk in it. I’m also curious to see if anything changes for me, since it’s been such a significant part of my diet for so many years and I never had any reason to suspect food allergies (I’m quite athletic, slender, and don’t have any skin/respiratory/other identifiable problems)

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