This is the list that's been on our kitchen wall since January 2nd.
As you might know from my previous post about Eczema and Food Allergies, my kids have been on this elimination diet for their Eczema...and by default, so are my husband and I. And as you might have guessed, it hasn't been easy. We've had some setbacks as we had a huge birthday party for my parents last weekend and the kids couldn't escape the strawberry shortcake - their favorite birthday cake from our local bakery. And as cruel as it might sound, my husband (the best carnivore known to man - depending on how you look at it) cooked his and my dad's favorite, Prime Rib. But everything else was cooked with good wholesome ingredients that did not contain the above.
After being on this elimination diet, I learned a few things.
Eczema and Food Allergies
1.The kids skin improved dramatically. Although there were some minor flare up now and then due to their fencing and school related stress, but in comparison, they are 80% clearer than before the diet. No cream or lotion was as effective as this diet. I know. I can't believe it either.
2. We did not lose an ounce. I thought we would lose weight since we cut out starchy wheat products or rich dairy products nor high fructose corn syrup laden foods. I was a little worried that the kids would lose their muscle mass since they are very active but I'm happy to say, they are still healthy and strong. Hungry, but strong.
3. My kids are incredibly disciplined. I know I sound like I'm bragging - yeah, I'm bragging. These kids are the two most disciplined, self-directed, and self-motivated kids I know. I mean, I would have cried, screamed, kicked, and hollered about my not being able to eat chocolates and ice creams the first day. But no, they were so good about adhering to the diet. Emily was a little weak at times (how can you blame a 14 year old girl when you dangle a chocolate bar in front of her - shame on my husband!) but she is determined not to be tempted again. Andrew is the epitome of a Samurai warrior. He would not budge from this regimen even if it means having only salad at school without dressing in fear what might be hiding in it. I had to almost beg for them to have the birthday cake because I wanted to have a slice myself!! My bad.
4. We were eating JUNK! No, not on this diet but we were, in so many ways, eating chemicals that were disguised as fancy ingredients...like for sugar (sucrose), wheat (gluten), and dairy (whey, casein). And High Fructose Corn Syrup? Don't even get me started on this one. This is a whole 'nother post in itself. I know we read labels but really, READ the labels. It was taking me twice as long to shop when I first started because EVERYTHING contained at least one of these things. I couldn't just go to the "Gluten-Free" aisle and pick out anything because they all contained dairy and eggs. By the way, there are a ton of GF food items now and my local market has a whole section on GF foods. Emily loves to cook and she was dying for a pancake or a bread. So I took her to the GF section to see if they had alternatives for wheat flour but the pancake mixes all required dairy and eggs. OK, so we can substitute milk with soy or rice but eggs? Uh oh...we couldn't find egg substitute that was not eggs!! Emily screamed in the dairy aisle, "Why do they call it 'egg substitute' when it is 99% eggs???!???!!!" I had to gently whisk her outta there.
5. Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) I don't know about you but I want to eat pure foods. I read once that 93% of all soy is GMO and 65% of all corn is GMO. I wonder if GMO's had anything to do with triggering allergies in us. Isn't that scary? What does that mean? That means, I have to eat organic grains. To be certified as organic, it can not be altered, modified, treated, and grown in artificial means. So since we substitute carbs (was wheat pasta, mainly) with corn, rice, and potatoes, we have to buy organic ingredients if we want to avoid GMO. I made chicken nuggets the other day with just corn meal with spices mixed in it and it was delicious. No eggs and no bread crumbs. I also made white meatloaf made with organic ground turkey, organic ground pork, cornmeal and fresh tomato sauce. It was better than the traditional meatloaf I used to make. I sure hope they don't become allergic to corn because we'll be totally you know......._______!.
6. Cost Initially, it was very expensive to go shopping because I was trying to substitute all their favorite foods in the "specialty foods" section - gluten and dairy free granola or energy bars ($7 for 5 bars) or no sugar added juices ($4.99) or rice crackers ($1.70 per pkg) or gluten free pretzels ($2.99). They are all triple the price of "junk" out there. This further begs the question why health foods are more expensive than junk foods laden with chemicals and ingredients that are sure to cause illness down the road. But now, I slowly cut back on those "substitutes" and they are now enjoying more whole foods like nuts, homemade apple sauce and baked sweet potatoes as snacks.
7. We are NOT alone. I was so flabbergasted by the number of comments you left after my post on Eczema and Foods. I was awestruck that so many of you suffer with similar food allergy related issues. And I was humbled by the fact that the post inspired you to start being good to yourselves. I hope you are still on the journey along with my family and remember, if you get distracted a little, and "fall off the wagon" as one reader tweeted, it's OK. Go back on the wagon. Continue with your mission of making yourself healthier. That's so much better than being sick.
8. This might be a permanent thing. I always thought we ate pretty healthy, healthier than an average American. I don't buy packaged foods - just once in awhile, I'll buy granola bars and energy bars, ethnic foods like tacos, condiments, etc. I don't buy microwavable foods or frozen dinners. But I became sad last night thinking about all the crap in our foods, like, BPA , GMO (and grains are in everything- Soy Sauce is made with soy and wheat - I had NO idea that soy sauce had wheat!! Andrew was beyond devastated. The boy can not live without rice and soy sauce!!), High Fructose Corn Syrup in EVERYTHING, and blah blah blah...*sigh*
I think it's safe to say that we can not eat foods that these greedy big conglomerates prepared and packaged for us. I can't feed my family, not just those tainted toxins, but wheat, dairy, and eggs that are in all foods.
My kids wonder why they are allergic to them. But I realized that they were assaulted with these ingredients in everything they ate since they were younger even though, in comparison, they had a very good diet! Their system probably couldn't take it. Or that their system is designed NOT to take it, - thanks to their genes inherited from us. So, if you look at it that way, YAY! for those genes. It's just their body's way of telling them to "Stay the hell away from those toxins!"
So, we may stick with this elimination diet even after this two month trial period is over. I think we will be fine without eating them; in fact, I think they'll be healthier if they don't eat them. Just don't tell them yet. They are waiting for February 28th so that they can have a pizza party - hosted by Emily, the chef!