Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Learning about TED

In an effort to be informed and prepared for the TED (Total Elimination Diet), I've been doing some research online. Forums have been particularly helpful; reading firsthand accounts from fellow breastfeeding moms has been interesting. Here are a few questions to which I found answers:

  • What are the most commonly allergenic foods? These 8 foods account for 90% of food allergies:
    Milk & dairy products (from cows)
    Soy & soy products
    Tree nuts

    Most of these are considered "healthy" sources of protein! And those first 3 are heavily subsidized by our government, so they are cheaply produced, processed, and in almost everything. Next time you're at the store, try to find a box or package of food that does not contain cow dairy, wheat, or soy. Unless you look in the produce section, this could be difficult.

    Corn & corn products are a swift runner-up, possibly due to its relatively recent subsidization and introduction to most processed foods as additives.
  • Why only range-fed/free-range? won't cage-free and/or organic do? Range-fed animals eat a healthy, natural variety of grasses and plants (and bugs). Most animals are fed, or at least finished on, grains like wheat and corn. Wheat and corn are two of the most common allergens. If you are what you eat, then what you eat eats matters, too. Think of the whole food chain. (Note: the USDA has some sketchy requirements for the use of these terms.)
  • I can still take my multivitamin supplement and get all the nutrients this diet lack, right Not if it contains any of those top allergens. I checked the label of my Women's One-a-Day vitamin and it contains soy lecithin as well as partially hydrogenated soybean oil (how did I miss those when I bought it??). The best bet is individual vitamin supplements, like a straight calcium or iron pill. Actually, the best bet is to get from food! So my first choices for foods to add back into my diet will be very healthy choices.

I still have a lot of questions, though!
  • Can I use olive oil to cook?
  • My rice milk has evaporated cane juice and other stuff in it. Does that mean sugar is ok? How about honey? Brown sugar? Maple syrup?
  • Can I use spices other than salt and pepper? I know I can't use stuff like garlic or onion yet, but what about cinnamon or thyme?
  • Obviously caffeinated drinks are not allowed, but what about herbal teas? I can get a good amount of vitamins and trace minerals from raspberry leaf, and iron from nettles. Herbs are great supplements! Are there any that aren't ok on the diet?
  • What kind of rice cereal is allowed? I've read a lot of forum posts mentioning boxed, processed rice-based cereals. I thought it meant something like this.
  • What's the best way to test a food for a threshold issue? For example, if a little bit of egg is ok, how do I go about figuring out the allowable quantity?

I've still got a lot of learning to do! But at least I know I'm on the right track for discovering Miles's food sensitivities.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Total Elimination Diet

I have mentioned to some friends and family that we suspected some food sensitivities with Miles awhile ago, and when I eliminated wheat and soy from my diet in mid-November, Miles went from always fussy to smiling and peaceful. He stopped waking up crying, and started being more content in general. What a change! He was like a new baby!

This decision was based on a cursory glance at the Total Elimination Diet (TED) developed by Dr. William Crook, which is recommended by Dr. Sears and his wife, who is a lactation consultant, for colicky and fussy breastfed babies. I thought, "Ok, wheat and soy, and I already can't eat cow dairy....we're fine. I can work around those." But we're not fine. At 4 1/2 months now, Miles is much better but still has some symptoms of allergies and/or sensitivities, and they're so random that we can't blame any one food for sure.

For example, at Thanksgiving (the vegetarian one which included gluten-, wheat-, and dairy-free options for everyone), I ate a variety of nuts in just about everything, eggs in 2 dishes, and spelt in 2 dishes and cornmeal in one. Miles didn't seem to have any reactions the next day or the following week...that we know of. Then one day I ate a handful of almonds for a snack, and he was extra fussy that evening. I had started drinking almond milk instead of soymilk...but if almonds are an issue, then that's a problem. One day I ate quiche and drank almond milk eggnog (homemade, of course), and he had no reactions, but was fussy several days later. Was it a delayed reaction to the eggs (which I've found is common)? Was it the almond milk? Miles didn't react to the spelt rolls at Thanksgiving, so I started baking with Spelt at Christmas, and he just so happens to have been fussy ever since then. Maybe this more digestible ancient wheat isn't ok for him after all, or maybe only a little every few days is all right. Some foods will bother a baby right away, I discovered, and others take a few days. So was it the curry last night or the eggs a few days ago making him extra fussy today? How can I know for sure?

I've come to the conclusion that in order to really peg those problem foods and free me up to eat healthfully without fear of hurting the baby, I should take my diet (and therefore my baby's), more seriously and begin the TED journey. The TED is very useful for discovering food allergies and sensitivities, as well as giving a damaged digestive system a chance to heal. Allergies and sensitivities are actually quite rare in babies, so it's really a sort of last resort for us.

Yes, this will be difficult and limiting, but it will also be beneficial, useful...and fun. What? Fun?! Yes! If you know me, you know I love food, and love getting creative with it. Some people might find such a diet boring, but I plan to use this opportunity to get creative and focus on being thankful for the food we have. We are so blessed to have within our reach a variety of healthy food. We have so many options and the means to procure them.

To start the TED, here is a list of "safe foods" (nearly hypoallergenic) I can start off with for the first week or so:

Rice (brown rice, rice milk, rice pasta, rice cereal)
Turkey & lamb (range-fed only)
Potatoes & sweet potatoes (baked or boiled)
Pears (whole, cooked, and diluted juice)
Green & yellow squash

There's something from each food group, and good nutrients so that even a couple months of this diet won't affect milk supply. Once a week or so goes by, long enough for disruptive foods to clear out of the baby's system, I'll be slowly adding foods back in one at a time, starting with the least-allergenic foods.

Let's get started!