In past Motherhood Monday posts I’ve mentioned that I am on a strict diet due to my little one’s dairy and soy protein intolerance while breastfeeding.
A handful of people have sent me questions so I thought I’d share more about how I knew Blake had food sensitivities and what I’ve done to help the situation.
After giving birth I was SO excited to eat foods that had been off-limits during pregnancy. Namely, soft cheese. So naturally, I started eating cheese like it was my job. What’s more, we were blessed to have food on hand from family and friends to help us throughout the first few weeks with a newborn. Our fridge was stocked with casseroles, enchiladas, mac & cheese, lasagna…all delicious, CHEESE-filled dishes.
All was well for the first few weeks but around 6 weeks of age, Blake’s diapers turned from the normal yellow color to a bright green. Green with mucous to be exact (if you’re not a mom, this probably grosses you out. Feel free to skip this post!).
We took her to the pediatrician where they tested her stools for blood just to be safe. Sure enough, there were microscopic amounts of blood in her stool which is a sign that her digestive system was inflamed and not processing something well.
My sister-in-law had a similar situation with her son so I knew what this meant – I was going to have to go dairy-free.
I spoke with the pediatrician and we determined that I should eliminate all dairy and soy from my diet.
Dairy protein intolerances are becoming more and more common in babies and approximately 50% of babies with a dairy protein intolerance also have a soy protein intolerance. Our pediatrician went through this with both of her kids so thankfully she could related to the journey we were about to embark on.
I eliminated all dairy and soy products from my diet, including soy lecithin and soybean oil (which is incredibly hard to do..).
Within a few weeks we saw a bit of improvement but not 100%. In fact, some symptoms were starting to get worse. She was spitting up more than normal and even started throwing up every few days. Since she was so little. It was really scary to see her projectile vomit on a daily basis.
There was so much milk coming out of her little body. Needless to say it was hard to leave the room for fear that she might choke.
At this point our pediatrician didn’t have much advice other than continuing to cut out common allergens to see if that helped.
So I was on my own to figure this thing out.
All this time Blake was totally happy! Not fussy, not colicky, sleeping great, gaining weight…so the doctors weren’t too concerned. She was thriving. They classified her as a “happy spitter”. Even in the midst of this I considered her to be an easy baby…which actually made it all the more confusing.
So I continued to cut out additional foods…eggs, caffeine, tree nuts.
I saw a big improvement in her spit up after cutting out tree nuts but diapers were still the same.
Next came gluten. Saw a tiny bit of improvement. Her diapers became intermittently green with yellow at times too.
She also stopped rubbing her face at every feeding which I hadn’t recognized as a sign of an intolerance or allergy until she stopped doing it.
(Note: face rubbing after feedings is not ALWAYS a symptom of intolerance – but in our case I believe it was)
At this point I was at my wits end. I was hardly eating anything and as any breastfeeding mother knows – a girl needs food!
So the next 3 things to go were seeds, tomatoes (due to their acidity) and out of curiosity, I cut out my prenatal vitamins.
I had been taking The Honest Company’s prenatal vitamins because they are free of soy and contain probiotics.
And FINALLY with all of these foods eliminated, her symptoms disappeared 100%. Diapers went back to normal, throw up stopped completely and she hardly spits up anymore.
This took place over the course of 3 months.
She was 7 months old when we got our first “clear” (aka: blood-free) stool test.
I scoured the web for answers and hardly found anything so my hope is that writing and sharing my experience will help my fellow desperate mothers who are googling MSPI, dairy intolerance, green diapers, etc. etc.
Blake is now 6 months old and I have discovered that 3 things still cause her symptoms to return: dairy, soy, egg and The Honest Company Prenatal Vitamins (weird, right? For the record I still LOVE the company).
I am slowly adding foods back in but it’s so hard to have a “clean experiment” with a baby since there are always so many factors to consider.
My advice to mothers who are just starting out on this journey:
- If you are going to cut out foods do it ONE food at a time and wait to see the results (have your diapers tested after 2-3 weeks of cutting out each food). I made the mistake of cutting out multiple foods at once so it has been hard to know which foods truly cause the reaction.
- OR bite the bullet and do a true elimination diet. If your baby truly does have intolerances it will be SO worth it in the end. Trust me, I wish I would have done this from the very beginning rather than spending so many months randomly eliminating foods.
- You can still dine out! But it’s not easy. Some restaurants are more accommodating than others. Don’t hesitate to call ahead and inform them of your dietary restrictions. More often than not they will be willing to work with you. But you have to be proactive and ask pointed questions to the servers/cooks. I don’t go into detail about it being an issue with my baby. I just tell them that I have food allergies myself.
- Have your baby’s diapers tested for blood. It only takes a few minutes and then you will know if your baby is having a true internal reaction or not.
- Meal planning is EVERYTHING. I’ve been sleep deprived, hungry and out of food and it makes this whole journey a thousand times more challenging. Do your best to plan ahead and keep the kitchen stocked with foods you can eat and your life (and mood) will be lighter. I know it’s hard when you have a newborn to tend to but it will help so much.
- I have a Pinterest board where I regularly post allergy-friendly recipes. You can follow it HERE.
- Ask your pediatrician about probiotics. I give Blake Bio Gaia Baby Probiotics with Vitamin D.
My favorite dairy/soy/gluten/nut/seed-free foods:
Rudi’s Bread (cinnamon raisin is my favorite – but beware it does have egg)
Meat (watch out for fillers and marinades, always read the ingredient list, never assume)
Enjoy Life products (they even have cookies!)
Kettle Chips (not all flavors are safe)
Organic, nitrate-free sausage (Applegate Farms is a good brand)
Mission Tortilla Chips & Salsa/Guacamole
Kind Granola (certain varietals are okay)
Coconut Aminos (assuming you can have coconut)
Fast Food Meals I Have Found To Be Acceptable:
Mad Greens: multiple salads with modifications (their allergen info is outstanding)
Chipotle: All Chipotle locations are in the process of switching from soybean oil to rice bran oil. Double check with your local store to make sure they’ve made the switch. I order a burrito bowl with black beans, chicken, pico, corn salsa, guacamole and lettuce.
Mod Market: Every store has an ingredient binder that is helpful to look through. They are very accommodating and helpful.
Tokyo Joe’s: If you can have coconut, this is a great option. I do a build your own bowl with brown rice, white chicken, veggies and panang curry sauce.
Garbanzo: I get a chicken plate with hummus, veggie salad, cabbage, chicken or falafel and pickles.
*note: please be sure to do your own research. I am not an expert on this topic and it’s possible that I have made mistakes or recipes have changed.
Tips for dining out:
- Don’t be afraid to call ahead and inform them of your allergies. Generally speaking the nicer/fresher the restaurant the easier it is to make adjustments to the cooking method/ingredients.
- Ask for allergy menus or search them online.
- Always ask what oil they cook with. More often than not it’s soybean oil. If they mention vegetable oil there is a good chance it’s actually soy.
- Always ask what meat is seasoned with and if it’s marinated. Soy is sneaky and butter is lurking in many restaurant recipes.
- Bring your own salad dressing. I always have mine in my purse! So if all else fails I can eat a green salad and just enjoy being out, even if the meal is sub-par.
And it should be noted that this road block has not curbed my Starbucks addiction. I’ve learned to drink my coffee without milk (although I do miss my lattes).
These days my drink of choice is a decaf americano with 2 raw sugars.
(I recently found out that the pumpkin spice syrup & caramel both contain dairy)
Thanks for hanging in there with me in this long post. My hope is that others in a similar situation will stumble upon this post and it will be a resource for mother’s looking for help.
**3/8/14 update: I’m happy to report that I have been able to add nuts and gluten back into my diet with no problems. I added nuts for 2 weeks then had Blake’s diapers tested. We did the same for gluten. Now that Blake is 9 months old there is a good chance she has outgrown everything at this point (most babies outgrow this by 9 months – so hang in there mama). I’ll be adding egg back in next and then from there, our pediatrician has instructed us to give Blake a bit of soy yogurt rather than me having it myself. The reason being that it takes 2-3 weeks for soy/dairy to leave my system and it will pass through Blake’s much more quickly. Dairy will be next. Fingers crossed that she has outgrown it all!**
**5/27/14 update: We eventually determined that our 3 big culprits were dairy, egg and soy. However, at 9 months we gave my daughter a little big of soy yogurt every day for 2 weeks and then brought her diapers in for testing. They were free and clear! We’re now giving her a little bit of dairy yogurt every day and will have her diapers tested in another 2 weeks. So far we haven’t noticed any symptoms or side-effects. Since we had some big events and traveling during her 10th/11th month we didn’t rush the process of reintroducing foods. Eggs will be next once we get the clear test from dairy.**
**7/30/14 update: All food intolerance are outgrown! We are now giving Blake dairy on a daily basis. I choose to give her grassfed, organic cheese and organic whole milk yogurt. She has no intolerances at this point and is a happy, healthy baby! Don’t be discouraged if you are just starting out on this journey. Keep in mind these protein intolerances while breastfeeding are NOT the same as true food allergies. So there is a good chance your baby will outgrow them too. Hang in there mamas!
**6/20/16 update: Since writing this post I’ve had another baby! And wouldn’t you know it, he has the exact same thing. You can read more about his birth story here. You can also read my postpartum updates here, here and here. I followed the exact same protocol with him that I did with Blake. However, he was MUCH more sensitive and I had to eliminate corn, and coconut for a period of time as well. He is now 9 months old and we just received our first “clear diaper test! Hooray! I have added nuts back into my diet because they are the most nourishing for me, and then we’ll see how he does. I’m trusting that he will outgrow this as well!
We also did NAET treatments with him and I don’t know if it helped or not, but he’s getting better so I count it as a win!
PS – Are you looking to modify your diet for your little one’s Milk and/or soy protein intolerance? While I’ve included a lot of resources here in this post, this E-Book by Brenda Kosciuk is full of tips, information, and recipes to help you on your journey. She is a wealth of knowledge and has created a great resource for mamas like us! CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.