My family’s journey to a more conscious, allergy-aware, and gut-healthy diet started when our son developed eczema, gradually faced more issues, and nothing seemed to help him get better. I was not willing to simply suffer through this time and hope for him to grow out of it. Instead, I embarked my family on a journey of many changes, especially in our diets. It took us a long time to get to a much better place – I’m so happy to be here now and share our food with you!
When Ilian was 3 months old, eczema took over most of his skin. Topical treatments did nothing except steroids temporarily soothing the rash, so I decided to cut out all common allergens from my diet (he was breastfed). It was a huge change – I realized how much of our standard diet contained gluten/wheat products, dairy, and eggs. It was hard to come up with recipe ideas, everything had to be cooked from scratch because most prepared foods contained allergens, and even though I kept a good balance of carbs, fats, and protein, I felt constantly hungry and lost 2 pounds per week for about 5 weeks. Suffice it to say, I do not remember this time fondly.
After a few weeks, we saw an improvement in our baby’s skin, but it would take over a year of trial and error to be eczema-free. It turned out (via his first anaphylaxis) that avocados are poison for him. Lentils and bananas brought on eczema rashes. Mangoes, even if consumed only indirectly through breast milk, would cause terrible diaper rashes. We learned and explored with the help of our pediatrician, allergist, dermatologist, and many friends and facebook moms’ groups. We changed our diets, read every label on skin care products, and treated our son’s body as a whole. At one and a half, his skin was finally healed and we had a successful food routine.
The hardest part for me – as a stay at home mom immersed in my son’s daily needs – was to create balanced meals: current standard western food recipes were next to useless, most vegetarian and vegan blogs make heavy use of soy and nuts, and many other diet trends rely on recreating standard foods with alternative ingredients that make for complicated or imbalanced cooking.
To come up with reasonable meal plans, I picked through more cook books than I can remember, tried my best to come up with creations on my own, perused the produce section of grocery stores for inspiration. I delved into the traditional cuisines of cultures that did not cultivate gluten-containing grains, had little to no dairy industry, and preserved foods through fermentation. (These turned out to be excellent resources for broadening our culinary horizons, by the way!) Slowly my recipe collection grew, and I could finally enjoy cooking more and more. I could go back to tried and tested recipes when there was little time for cooking, and I knew where to look to become creative.
Food preparation in my kitchen is now much slower, both because nothing is pre-processed and Ilian helps! We grow tomatoes on the porch that he helps to take care of, daddy ferments cabbages which makes for interesting “men’s work” in the basement, and when we go grocery shopping I let him select vegetables. He loves it. Here’s to raising a food-conscious little human!
Our home is strictly free of gluten, soy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, coconut, and avocado. While we eat dairy, fish, and shellfish, I include these ingredients only sparingly and always as an alternative on this blog to help you navigate an allergen-free diet that is still balanced in proteins, carbs, and fats. And of course fresh, vitamin- and mineral-laden ingredients are waiting to meet you!