I recently received a question from a very frustrated mother regarding food allergies.
I am breastfeeding my son who is 6 months old. He is showing signs of food allergies even before eating solids. What do you suggest I do? I am off of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nightshades… Dr suggested cutting out nuts too… Running out of food options & nervous to try giving him solids at this point. Tried giving him bananas yesterday & he broke out in hives & his right eye swelled.
Let me begin by saying that I’m sorry you have had to go through this! Food allergies seem to be more common as our food supply is increasingly tinkered with.
The easiest and least costly method of managing food allergies is elimination, which is exactly what you are doing! I understand your concerns regarding beginning solid foods and waiting until your child is 7 months old is completely reasonable. However, research has shown that babies who begin solid foods are less likely to have food allergies. Yes, your child has food allergies already, but you don’t want them to worsen.
I recommend starting with a homemade pureed vegetable. You will need to decide which vegetable you think your child will tolerate best. Some vegetables recommended are spinach, collard greens, beets, and carrots. I also don’t recommend starting rice cereal for a baby that is already exhibiting food sensitivities. Since your child is already producing large amounts of the antibody IgE (immunoglobulin E), avoid foods that are known to have an inflammatory response. Sadly, rice may be one of those foods, although not always.
In fact, since your child is still having allergies while on a gluten-free diet, you may want to avoid all grains. Quinoa, oats, spelt, millet, amaranth, corn, potatoes and others may have a cross-reactive response associated with gluten. There are lab assays that can be done that assess IgG and IgA antibodies that are associated with gluten and known foods that cross-react with gluten. However, this is a blood test, and I am not sure that you’d want to go that route.
If and when you do decide to try a grain, I recommend starting with sweet potatoes (not really a potato). However, make sure you have started green vegetables before you begin carrots, sweet potatoes or any other sweet fruit or vegetable.
I also recommend introducing cultured foods into your own diet and your baby’s diet. Sally Fallon is a huge proponent of incorporating tried and true cultured foods in our modern diet. In her book Nourishing Traditions, she states: The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti carcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.
Avoiding sugar, white flour, refined and/or hydrogenated vegetable oils, heated/refined salt and caffeine is also recommended. All of these foods are refined and devoid of healthful nutrients. Aim to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables as opposed to the typical few foods offered in our local grocery stores. Visiting a farmer’s market that offers organic, local and in season fruits and vegetables is a great place to start!
Also, to ensure that there is enough chloride in your diet to produce hydrochloric acid, I recommend adding a high quality, unheated and untreated salt, like Pink Himalayan salt. This will also improve the body’s ability to digest foods.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women and growing children also need plenty of fat-soluble vitamins. Sadly, these are missing in our diets today due to the avoidance of butter, cream, fish, eggs and organ meats. In fact, due to industrialized farming, our cows (dairy and beef) are very low in these fat-soluble vitamins, if there contain any at all, which our grandparents enjoyed on a daily basis.
It is possible that you and your baby have a “leaky gut”. One diet that may be considered is the Gut and Psychology Diet (GAPS diet), which is an offshoot of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). In the GAPS diet, you will need to avoid all grains, starchy vegetables, sugar or any other commercial sweeteners, lactose (milk sugar), starchy beans, soy beans, all processed food and all “food additives”. By removing starches, we eliminate food for any pathogens that may be in the gut.
There is so much more I could say about food quality, but I think I would need to write a book! I hope that these few guidelines can help you in your quest for a nutrient dense diet that your baby, and you, can tolerate.