Monday, July 9, 2012

Wheat opens up a whole new universe of food

For the first year of my daughter Voov's life, her face and hands were a red mess of eczema. Blood laced her stool. The combination of symptoms led us and her doctor to think that some allergen was to blame. Skin prick tests registered positive for almost everything--which wasn't much help! Voov was breastfed, so my wife began to cut out foods in her own diet for two weeks at a time to see if anything changed. Removing dairy improved things; so that was it for cow-based milk and ice cream for my wife for a long time.

Then we started Voov on solid foods. At first she had only 12 options, several of which she refused outright. And so most of the atoms now composing her body lived previous lives as chicken, tofu, rice, apple, peas, and banana.

After three years, we redid the skin prick test, and while the technician made a hash of reading the results, we took the apparent improvement as a license to start trying a host of new things. We began with high-value, low-risk items like carrots, potato, chard, and quinoa. It was marvelous: Voov had no reaction to any of them. Eggs, even.

The problem was that she didn't like to eat any of them. She was set in her ways. It seems that three years is precisely the wrong age to start introducing a kid to new foods. However, there was one notable exception: ketchup. We ran trials of tomato and onion, and then Heinz--and bingo, we'd found something she liked and didn't react to.

I immediately realized that I could cover any food in ketchup and there'd be a good chance she'd eat it.

This past week, though, has seen a revolution.

Still standing as major potential villains were the big four: fish, dairy, nuts, and wheat. My wife is a fish-phobe so it's not worth worrying about fish because I can never cook it for the family. We know Voov is allergic to milk, because she threw up shortly after she drank some by accident (her skin test showed major allergy to milk and beef). And we're leaving nuts as something to try in the doctor's office when we have an epi-pen handy. That left one thing to try: wheat.

One week ago, we began giving Voov slices of wheat bread (after carefully checking the ingredient list; it's amazing how many breads contain milk products). She loves it, and she loves wheat noodles, and so far she hasn't had the slightest apparent reaction. Awesome! It has opened up a whole new universe of food.

In the space of a few weeks, we've completely inverted our food restrictions. Instead of Voov only being able to eat a few things, she's suddenly able to eat all BUT a few things. We'll be reading ingredient labels for years to come, but our lives have gotten much simpler and easier.

Coincidentally, Selena over at Amazing & Atopic started her daughter on wheat this week. Things didn't go so well for her, unfortunately.


  1. Aw, thanks for the mention. :) Don't feel too bad for my daughter, though. She'll add some new foods, little by little. I'm so glad your daughter was able to add new foods to her diet. It's so exciting when we can bring new options to the table!

  2. Each food is exciting, you're right. We wait to see what our daughter thinks of each new thing we put in front of her. Usually it's "I don't like it" but wheat's been a different matter--she loves everything made with it. What's coolest is really that she finally gets to eat stuff that she has been seeing her brother eat for years.

    But on the other hand kids always like to feel unique and having special food rules is one way to make an identity.