Monday, 26 February 2007

Coming to terms with food allergies

So, along comes lovely bouncing baby number 4. Look at my maternal pride as I wrestle my four, yes, four, children out of the door. I am now set apart on the school run, spoken about in hushed tones. (Actually, would rather not know what they are saying, feel it may not all be complimentary).

Imagine my surprise, when said 4th baby develops all sorts of horrible allergies, around about month 3. This was not in the plan. This will not fit INTO the plan because I do not have enough time to cater to different dietary needs.

Alas, it was true, and after blood tests and skin prick tests, my lovely baby girl is allergic to:
  • Cow’s milk
  • Goat’s milk
  • Soya
  • Peanuts
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
    yes I know that’s ‘all dairy products’ but sounds more impressive when listed in a doleful tone
    She is also allergic to some kind of metal as chewing a bunch of keys produced hives (urticaria) round her mouth.

Although all these allergies so early on were a bit of a blow, it was not entirely new territory. My eldest daughter has always suffered with Eczema, Asthma started around age three, and by the time she was six, she could no longer breathe through her nose. The doctor diagnosed Allergic Rhinitis, where the lining of the nose swells as a response to allergens. Skin Prick Tests for my eldest revealed allergies to:
  • Limes
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Cats (yuk, feline freaks, hate them. I’m also allergic)
  • Sesame seeds
  • House Dust Mites

She also feels sick around peanuts, although the lump that came up during the skin prick tests didn’t hang around long enough to warrant an allergy, apparently.

Looking at the profile of my eldest child, I was determined to spare baby 4 from the Asthma / Rhinitis future that I was sure would await her if I carried on feeding her allergens.
I realise this theory may not stand up to medical examination, but I was very sleep-deprived and possibly a little irrational. I decided that as I was still breast-feeding, I would remove "every single allergen from my diet". You get the strident, ‘don’t argue with me husband’ tone?
Bless him, he didn’t argue with me.

So Mother and baby embarked on a strict vegan diet (I am vegetarian, but the cheese had to go). I really craved Dairy Products, I wanted the grease all over my lips and hardening in my arteries. It was hard, but did I mention the weight-loss? What a fantastic by-product of a Vegan Diet.

I was determined to keep at the diet, but equally determined to have yummy food. This meant lots more cooking, as an Earth Mother of Four (ahem), but I was sure I could do it.  I was determined to keep producing yummy food for my family, even though the bar had now been raised considerably higher.

So began Pig in the Kitchen’s egg-free, dairy-free, soya-free, nut-free journey into the kitchen. Along the way I have made some gluten-free friends and they have joined the parade; the majority of the food featured on my blog is now Gluten-free.

Enjoy, and feel free to leave (nice / constructive / not vicious) comments.


Anonymous said...

I have just stumbled across your blog and boy am I happy. My children also have alergies one can't have any dairy/lactose and the other can't have chocolate, cheese or red wine (seeing that she's only 11 I don't think the last one will bother her for a while).

I have been trying to find recipes that will suit them both for a while, and I have to say I will be getting them to try a lot of your recipes.

can't wait to get into the kitchen now !!

Barcelona Mum

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Barcelona Mum, how lovely to have you visit, and I'm very happy that the blog will be of use to you.

I spent a lovely sun and alcohol-hazed six months in Barcelona in 1992, what a fantastic city!


Annie said...

Iota sent me here following a post on my own blog about my daughter's diagnosis of milk and egg allergy. I'm so glad you have this blog and I have no doubt that I will be pouring over its posts for ideas!

My daughter is 3 and before November, never had any issues with eggs nor milk - it's very strange - we see an allergist here tomorrow - fun times!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Annie, how good to see you, and thank-you to Iota! I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's allergies, it IS bizarre that she's been diagnosed a bit later isn't it? However, I only recently found out that i'm intolerant of Kiwi Fruit and Chestnuts - they provoke hay fever symptoms and itchiness. And i'm - err - a lot older than your three your old daughter!
Good luck with the tests, I'm heading over for a visit!

thenewstead6 said...

so glad to find this blog, view the BLW site!

I too found number 4 child to be allergic! He reacted to so much that I ate, that I took ended up gluten free, dairy free, egg free and soya free. Then I cut down on salicylates, and all meat other than chicken!

He is much better, and I am MUCH lighter (!), but ooooh do I crave cheese. Why are there no cheese alternatives without soya in them?!

These recipes look great and I'm going to work my way through them!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Newstead6, us families of 6 must attract each other on some strange, chaotic level! How unfortunate that your fourth child has allergies. And gold star medal to you for cutting out everything; it's a drastic plan but I'm really glad it's working.

Oh the cheese thing! I can't tell you how much i missed it. Since stopping breastfeeding, I've tried some of the Sheese stuff...and as a cheese addict, it's not for me.

Good luck with the recipes!

Anonymous said...

I found your blog while looking for sunflower seed pestos that would work for my one year old son and myself. He has been suffering from excema since he was 9 months old. I first took eggs, soy and dairy out of his diet but as that did not work, have removed these as well as wheat from my diet. i think he is getting better, but it is awfully difficult to find tasty recipes. I tried your pesto and some of your rolls tonight and they both turned out great. I will be looking here for future recipes.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello anonymous, thank you very much for your visit. I do feel for you,it is so hard to work out what little children are allergic too. All the pictures of my youngest when she was tiny show her with eczema all over her face. When we worked out her allergies it ALL disappeared. I hope that you are successful with eliminating food.

Another thought (and please remember I'm not a medical professional), my eldest suffers from eczema and asthma. She has a few food allergies, but the main trigger for her is dust mites. When I manage to maintain a strict regime of washing bedding at 60 degrees every week, hoovering her mattress and room, (she has to have special bedding), airing her bedding every day...we notice a real improvement.

Could you child be sensitive to dust mites? My eldest was covered in eczema from the age of 3 months, it was very stressfull trying to keep it under control. If you want to have a 'chat' about it, please feel free to email me.

I'm glad the recipes are of help to you, and good luck! It can be very demoralising can't it?

Love Pigx

Mommaloveuk said...

My three children have dairy intolerance and my angelfaced little daughter (now one) also has a not-so-winning combination of intolerance and allergy to gluten, fish, shellfish, pork, soya and egg. [deep breath]

So imagine my glee when I stumbled across your delightful blog when randomly googling on the off-chance for a gf/egg free/dairy free sticky toffee pudding recipe...!

By the way, I made the bread rolls yesterday. They were fabulous. Is here an appropriate place to admit that I ate all six?

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Mommaloveuk, hello, sorry it's taken me so long to reply. Am very thrilled that you are finding my blog helpful, and what a horrid long list of allergies for your angel. In fact, re-reading your comment, ALL your children have dairy intolerance, what a nightmare.

I think this is the perfect place to admit to piggery. I often disguise it as 'quality control' and 'testing for texture'. Voila, problem solved.

becca said...

I have just found this website and need an kid free evening to digest it all! So far it looks GOOD! Perhaps you could help me - I have a little boy with eczema who is allergic to everything - we are waiting for blood test results, but have been advised to avoid:
eggs, dairy, wheat, soya, tomatoes - his face gets very red and itchy with anything red i.e red peppers, blueberries etc. and he is def. allergic to bananas. As you can imagine his diet is restricted and I really need help with what to cook and how -
Can you????

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Becca, glad you stumbled across me.

Eeek, bad news about all the allergies. I've heard the 'red food' theory before with eczema, it will be interesting to see if avoiding helps. My eldest's eczema would flare up with tomatoes, but that was only on contact; i think it was to do with the acid in tomatoes.

Right, food. You don't mention which country you are from, but if the UK, then the major supermarkets tend to stock staples such as gluten-free pasta and bread, just check t he labels thoroughly. Teh bread will be better toasted, or you could always make some using my recipe!

This website below stocks lots of yummy gluten free, egg free, dairy free treats, which can soften the blow a little; it is horrid not being able to give yummy stuff isn't it?

Dietary needs direct are also a good resource:

Gosh, the list of your boy's allergies is extensive isn't it, and the 'red' thing does limit...My first thought is SOUP! It is fairly easy to whizz up soups, and he can dip in gluten free bread, there's a courgette soup on my blog. Failing that, baked potatoes? My bean burger recipe doesn't have red stuff in I don't think. Rice? Mixed veg rice? Home-made pesto sauce (recipe on blog)...I don't know how much help i'm being here, it will all depend on what kinds of food you are used to eating. Homemade potato wedges with salad; cucumber and carrot?

There's a lentil stew recipe on here, there may be a bit of tomato puree in the recipe, but you could leave that out.

I hope that is of some help, it really is very difficult when you're faced with a huge range of stuff your child CAN'T eat.

Have you looked into dust mite allergy? I really go on about this, but it turned out to be the key to my eldest daughter's eczema and asthma, and I wish I'd known about it when she was little. If you want to have more of a 'chat', then please feel free to email me:

Good luck,


sarah k said...

Oh, I am so happy to have found your blog! I have two sweet boys--2 1/2 yrs and 10 1/2 months--who are allergic to (deep breath) eggs, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts (for good measure) and shellfish; and the baby may also be allergic to soy--we're leaving it out of my (still breastfeeding) diet for now to be sure. This is a journey I never expected to be on, as the allergies come from my husband's side of the family and I didn't really know about them until after our first was born. Surprise! :) Of course I would have married him anyway...Isn't it strange how food takes on an entirely different aspect when it becomes an issue of life and death for the most precious little people in the world? Just the word "peanut" makes my heart beat a little faster with fear, and I'm beggining to be able to spot dangerous items in an ingredient list with unnatural speed.

We have known about the allergies since our first was about 9 months old--and suddenly, all the strange symptoms of his babyhood made sense: eczema, reflux, diarrhea, etc. I still battle feeling angry at those doctors who had no clue what was going on; in hindsight, it looks so obvious! But I am thankful we know now. And thankful that there ARE things to eat--and that there are side benefits, like mommy weight loss :), to this unusual diet. And thankful that there is a blog like yours, with beautiful-looking food that I can't wait to try making! I am always on the lookout for new recipes. Thank you for sharing yours! I will be checking back often.



Pig in the Kitchen said...

Sarah K, i'm so glad you found me too, it makes all my toil worth it! I'm always shocked when I read about children's allergies, they sound awful when listed don't they? But it is possible to find a way through it, and gradually adapt the whole family's diet so that you're not cooking 10 meals a day.

I know exactly what you mean about suddenly viewing food in a different way; when i see other toddlers tucking into a yogurt, I have to resist the urge to tackle them and wrestle the pot off them, yogurt is now dangerous in our family! On the up side tho, when I managed to make my first egg free, dairy free cake for my littlest, I couldnt' stuff it down her fast enough. No matter that she was barely a year old and I would have refused to feed my others cake at such a young age, I was positively egging her on! We had her 3rd birthday recently and at her little party, it was all safe food for her and everyone ate the same stuff, it was very exciting.

Doctors can be infuriating can't they? They laughed in my face when I told them about my eldest's kiwi fruit allergy, sometimes us Mums do know best.

Good luck with it all, deep breaths, a bit of crying, lots of determination, and hold onto that slim straw that says, 'they might grow out of it'.

selina said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Anonymous said...


I was given your website by my dietician. My Daughter Niamh (said Neave) has severe multiple food allergy's. She was a nightmare to feed from birth, hated her bottle and I dreaded feed times and feeding in public, anyone would think I was trying to kill her not feed her!! the doctors said she had reflux and she was perscribed a few medicines, non of which worked. AT 6 months she rejected all food and after a very stressfull week of visiting the doctor daily she was put on Neocate - this changed everything!!! her exzema cleared in the wk that she rejected food and i asked for allergy testing as I believed she was dairy allergic.
I was mortified to find out that she was: -
allergic! I cried all the way home. Niamh then started to develop hives to the following:
It was when she was just over two that we learned the worst - she had had fish numerous times but on our worst nightmare day she had choking and throat swelling after eating cod, she is now on a complete fish free diet and has had testing for nuts (tree and ground) that came back with high results.
The good news is that she has grown out of a few allegies and now has an epipen.
Her allergy's are now wittled down to: -
It has been a hard journey and Niamh is on Nalcrom daily as her consultant believes her allergies are in her stomache (due to her stools being really runny) the medication has helped and I ve been able to potty train her now (she is 3 in September). She is also being monitered for her size as her bone growth is very delayed (her clothes size is 12 - 18 month and shoe size of 4!!!) the upside is she passes for under 2 easily and I dont pay for most attractions (cheeky I know) anyway enough of my family story!!) I just wanted to log this info incase anyone else reading might be experiencing simular probs and also to say I hope to find some cooking ideas on your site!!



Pig in the Kitchen said...

Selina, you are a sweetheart, thank-you!

Claire, you know I think I'm going to start giving awards on my blog. Awards for Mothers who tell me the most hair-raising allergy stories. I have to say i think yours might be in running for a gold medal. How horrible for you and Niamh (sp?!)because of her allergies, but also her associated healthy problems. Yikes. It's encouraging that she has grown out of some allergies I suppose, but it still makes life tricky doesn't it?

I'm very happy that you came to visit my blog, and so excited that your dietician recommended it! She can have a little medal as well for knowing about my blog ;-)

Please feel free to peruse at your leisure, I'll get my bum into gear soon and start posting recipes more often!


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I ve never actually posted any information onto any sites or spoken to any Mum's with allergies about Niamh's circumstances. I havent felt like highlighting how hard it has all been, maybe I was sweeping the issue to the back of my mind and have just been getting on with it. Your reply to our circumstances has made me realise that it really has been tough and that actually I deserve a pat on the back - no one has ever congratulated me on coping with Niamh's allergies, so thank you very much.
I think that now we know what to avoid and how to cope when travelling abroad and eating out, things have become easier, however I still grit my teeth when visiting a soft play area or going to a party or social event with food being left openly on tables or ignorant parents letting their toddlers bundle around soft play with a fist full of biscuits which they spread everywhere!! I have learnt to chill and not take their ignorance personally but it does make me mad!!
Anyway - my dietician gave me a leaflet about how to help your child to gain weight - your web address was printed on the back and she pointed it out to be one of the very best! I am glad that she did.

Keep the good work up and thanks


Pig in the Kitchen said...

You definitely deserve at the very least a pat on the back. And I too get so frustrated with parents who seemingly have no awareness of food allergies. And having to stand guard behind my daughter at 'festive' parties, snatching chocolate biscuits away from her, and batting away the peanut butter sandwiches is just grim, no fun involved.
(The small medal is on its way to the dietician, I love her)

Anonymous said...

Dear Pig,

I came across your blog after it was mentioned on mumsnet. I am practically crying.

Thank you. Not only is there an overwhelming richness in terms of foods and recipe variations but all of the stories too!

Bless you XXX

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Sweet Anon,
I am so happy you have found me, please don't cry, look, here's a tissue. It's all okay. There are enough recipes here to keep you going for a while, and if you like the stories, well, you'll be up for days reading all the crap i've spouted!

thanks for leaving a comment!

The Marketing Mama said...

Great blog - your photos are gorgeous! My daughter also has food allergies to eggs, milk, peanuts and soy (although we were just able to cross soy off the list).

I was also breastfeeding her and our GP didn't understand that food allergies could be passed through breastmilk - I wish I would have followed my instincts like you did. Instead, I finally met with a board-certified Allergist who confirmed that breast milk certainly DOES pass proteins from foods that cause allergic reactions. I can relate to so much of what you went through. It sounds like you are really thriving. Take care, thanks for sharing all your great recipes with the world! :)

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hi Marketing Mama, thanks for stopping by. I'm sorry to hear your daughter also has food allergies, and identical ones to my daughter! We also crossed soy off the list early on, which was a big help for day-to-day management of her allergies.

What is it with GP's and their scepticism?! A little re-training is required methinks. Hope you find the recipes useful!

Yasmin said...

Can I just say that I found this website a few hours ago and have since spent the rest of the time going through the archive of your posts. Thank you for creating this blog I'm vegetarian, gluten free and preferably dairy and sugar free so your amazing recipes and story's have kept me entertained. I wish I'd found you earlier! Yasmin x

Anonymous said...

I've just been given your site details by a "follower" as my 11 month boy (baby 3) has been diagnosed with dairy, egg, wheat and orange allergies. The recipes are fantastic and just what I need. Thank you!

Leeeena said...

Hi, Just came across this blog and I couldn't be happier. My 7 month old son has been diagnosed with nut, dairy, egg, gluten, pea family and sesame allergies. It is nice to know that I can still bake all sorts of delicious treats for him - can't wait to try out some of your recipes. Thanks again!

itchylittleworld said...

Congrats on your top 25 Food Allergy Mom Blog nomination! I'm listed as well (my son has several food allergies, so I can relate to your story) and it's given me an idea. I'm starting a blog hop for anyone dealing with allergies, eczema, or asthma - adults or parents helping their children. If you're interested in joining, please visit my page.

Hopefully we can create a circle of blogs to support each other in battling these conditions.


midge said...

Just discovered this blog - love it already.

We are a household of 'itchy-scratchies' with a combined list of allergies that may reach the moon and back. Despite my best efforts and following all advice I still managed to pass on a range of wierd allergies to my little peachicks, I seem to have spread them equally between the pair of them too!

midgie :)