My son has struggled with food sensitivities since birth. Even while he was exclusively breastfed, he would react to certain foods that I ate, with dairy being the worst. His primary symptom was extreme congestion (yeah, I'm talking about two parents not sleeping, taking shifts to allow their infant to sleep vertical at night kind of congestion), but he also had terrible abdominal discomfort and gas.
As a Naturopathic Medical Doctor, I employed every tool I could to bring him relief, which included me having an extremely limited diet. I happily eliminated every possible allergen and adopted then what most people now commonly refer to as the autoimmune paleo diet. And if you've even looked at this diet, you know it is hardcore.
Now, I don't want to be dismissive of anyone's struggles to adhere to any food plan that is moving them towards health. I know, it's hard. But imagine this, you're starving ALL THE TIME because that is just what it is like to be breastfeeding. Now add to that an extremely limited diet, a tremendous fear of slipping up with any forbidden foods, sleep deprivation, the stress of being a new mom, hormonal fluctuations, food cravings and a whole hell of a lot of unknown.
What's unknow? How to be a mom. How to be a mom to this baby. What foods are the problem. What foods are safe. How to navigate food sensitivities. I can't even begin to cover the list of what moms report to me because it is vast.
And I don't say this so that you think, “Oh wow, poor Dr. Brighten had to struggle with food.” No, I say this because I've have a lot of moms coming into my practice doing just this for the health of their child and they need some recognition. I also want them to know, I've been there…it sucks…but I totally know there is no end to a mother's love.
Fast forward 2 years… I delayed introducing dairy, grains, eggs. We do not allow soy or gluten in our house. Then my son starts preschool. He's eating dairy just about daily for a snack. All of the grain alternative breads have egg in them. And what does this all create? Food sensitivities.
Daily (repetitive) exposure to these proteins over time allow the body to become sensitive. This doesn't happen in everyone, but I had a suspicion that this was coming and tried to offset it by not offering these foods at home. FAIL.
My son developed a mild rash on his face which became progressively worse despite many treatments. Well, to be fair, it would get a lot better and then worse and with the cycle of winter colds, it was pretty hard to tell what exactly was driving each rash. But then came the day when it took the form of a classic childhood eczema.
My next step was to do food sensitivity testing via an IgG panel. Yes, you can do an elimination diet and sometimes that is necessary too, but I wanted to be able to see exactly who was the culprit and how bad it was sooner than later.
The results? Eggs, dairy, chicken, turkey, honey, radish. Wait, radish? Yes, it just so happens to be in the same family as my son's favorite condiment, mustard. Which now means mustard is out.
I am off on a new journey with my toddler in creating nutrient dense recipes that make him feel like he is getting to enjoy the foods he loves while also repairing his gut and setting my little foodie up for a lifetime of health and yummy food.
This recipe was born out of my son's love for yogurt and his need for a dairy free alternative. When I have the time, I make a 24 hour batch of coconut yogurt, but as a working mom, I often whip up a quick batch of this in the morning.
Probiotics are important to gut health, especially a child with eczema so I recommend that you include them. Of course, you may have a certain condition in which using probiotics at this time is contraindicated. You know the drill- listen to your doctor, your body and your gut and make choices that are individually right for you.
Quick Coconut Blueberry Yogurt
Serving Size: 1
- 1/2 Cup Coconut Cream (Trader Joe's carries this), chilled (place in refrigerator overnight)
- Handful of Organic Blueberries (or other fruit or no fruit)
- 2 Large Kale Leaves with stems removed
- 1 Probiotic Capsule, opened or 1 Serving of Probiotic Powder
- Toss everything into a blender or food processor. Blend until the kale pieces are the size you desire.
- Serve into a bowl and top with berries.