Tag Archives: diet

She Says… Celiac Update

I’m not sure how many of you are actually interested in the nitty gritty of Benjamin’s celiac diagnosis (and Owen’s likely diagnosis, though we haven’t done the blood test yet to be sure), but I wanted to keep some notes here for others dealing with this disease and other food allergies. I also want to spread awareness — there is a lot of bad information out there about the hows and whys of being gluten free, and now that my family is in that boat I realize just how vital it is that everyone understand what the diagnosis means and what we can do to treat it.

First things first, there is a difference between a wheat allergy, a gluten sensitivity, and celiac disease.

Celiac Disease: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the body reacts to gluten by attacking itself and causing damage to the small intestine. This inflammation of the lining of the small intestine leads to malnutrition (due to the inability to absorb vitamins) and puts celiacs at a much higher risk for many issues like other autoimmune disorders, cancers, and even pneumonia. In addition, many celiacs have violent physical reactions to coming into contact with gluten, even the tiniest amount.

Gluten Sensitivity: An individual has undesirable symptoms when he/she eats gluten (fatigue, indigestion, constipation/diarrhea, gas, etc.), but does not have celiac disease. Although bothersome, there is no inflammation or damage to the intestine. Some people with gluten sensitivity can have very extreme physical responses to the tiniest amount of gluten, while some responses are quite minor.

Wheat Allergy: The body launches an exaggerated response to wheat proteins (which may show up as a rash/hives, wheezing, swelling, etc.) but the damage to the small intestine is mild.

Benjamin’s blood tests confirmed the celiac diagnosis and an endoscopy (where he swallowed a camera so they could see the inside of his intestines) was done to see the extent of the damage to his intestinal villi. This procedure and the biopsies they took indicated that Benjamin has extremely damaged villi — they were worn down completely, whereas healthy villi stick up like little tiny fingers. That means we have to take immediate and extreme action to eliminate all gluten from his diet.

At first I thought, “Oh, that won’t be that hard, since Owen already eats gluten free. There are gluten free versions of everything. You’ll be fine.”. But what I didn’t realize is that it’s not just about the obvious sources of gluten like flour, cereal and bread. It’s not even about hidden sources of gluten like in marinades and soy sauce and some flavored yogurts. It’s not even just about reading labels like “produced in a facility that also processes wheat”. We have to be extremely aware of cross-contamination too. That means getting rid of every sponge, plastic utensil and tupperware in our kitchen because they likely have gluten proteins on them. It means getting rid of every nonstick pan because the nonstick coating is porous and may be harboring gluten proteins. It means new baking sheets and even a new toaster. It means reading every label in our pantry and getting rid of, well, almost everything. It means questioning and Googling every brand and every ingredient before taking it off the grocery store shelf. It even means changing chapsticks and shampoos and hand lotions.

Phew. It’s a lot.

We did a major kitchen cleanout and got all new nonstick pans, kitchen tools and baking sheets over the weekend. We reorganized our cabinets and removed all products with even the smallest trace of gluten in them (except for a few boxes of cereal and some granola bars for me — those I can keep relatively contained and I fear that I can’t live without them!).

The great news is that while celiac disease can’t be cured, you can literally regenerate the intestinal villi and essentially reverse ALL of the symptoms and increased likelihood of developing future issues by sticking to a strict gluten free lifestyle. Unfortunately, unlike those with gluten sensitivity, Benjamin will never be able to “cheat” once in awhile or risk being glutened. If he’s not sure about a particular food at a restaurant, he can’t eat it. Bottom line.

Benjamin and I are both struggling with his diagnosis. He is mourning food he’ll never eat and the crazy things he’ll need to do before he can eat out in public again. I am mourning having to write a 10 page email when someone invites us over for dinner, and not being able to bake homemade bread (yes, yes, I know there are gluten free flour blends and mixes, but they are NOT THE SAME). But we’ll get through it, and then it will just be… life.


So… anyone want to invite us over for dinner?

She Says… Double Diagnosis

Remember when we FINALLY figured out that Owen’s eczema (and likely a lot of his breastfeeding issues) was related to a wheat sensitivity/allergy? Since he was 8 or 9 months old we have kept Owen gluten free and so many of his health issues have disappeared. Despite the fact that we thought maybe he would grow out of it as he grew up, every time that we have re-tested wheat back into his diet (under direction from his doctor), his rash/ear infections/other illnesses have returned. It’s so clear to me that there is a link here, even though it hasn’t been confirmed by blood tests or extensive allergy testing. That’s enough for me.

Still, Benjamin and I were somewhat confused at the diagnosis because neither of us have any food allergies (Benjamin has developed oral allergy syndrome late in life, but that’s just a minor reaction, likely related to his seasonal allergies). But, I figure they have to start somewhere. And even if we never know “where it came from”, it’s there. Which, again, is enough for me.

Fast forward to this past April. Benjamin started having extreme stomach pains, tenderness and bloating. At first I thought he was just complaining (which, as a self-proclaimed hypochondriac, he has a tendency to do…), but the pain persisted for weeks. He saw several different doctors, had blood tests, a urinalysis and an ultrasound done, but still, no solid diagnosis. It began to feel like even the doctors thought he was imagining it. The stomach pain spread to back pain and even materialized as testicular pain, leading him to new doctors to rule out [very scary] things like testicular cancer. Finally, a blood test came back with a marker than indicated celiac disease. After a few more appointments, seeking out a celiac specialist (thank goodness for living so close to some of the top medical institutions in the country, including Beth Israel, which is one of the only hospitals in the world with a Celiac Center) and an endoscopy, the diagnosis is now confirmed.

Benjamin has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder characterized by a damaged intestinal lining that can lead to serious health issues if a strict gluten free diet is not adhered to. The endoscopy showed that his intestinal lining is pretty severely damaged, despite the fact that he hasn’t had any poop issues or other common celiac symptoms. If we hadn’t persisted with the doctors for these vague stomach pains, we never would have found out.

We had been testing out a gluten free/dairy free diet for Benjamin for several months while he saw the multitude of doctors, since I am a firm believer in the impact of diet on our bodies and suggested he try it. As it turned out, my instincts were right again. And, given Owen’s experiences with wheat, Benjamin’s diagnosis almost doesn’t surprise me. I say almost, because I’m still totally amazed at how acutely the symptoms materialized, and how extreme they were, despite the fact that he has eaten gluten his whole life with no issues.

Since we already keep Owen gluten free, I am pretty familiar with what the good products are, how to bake muffins and breads, and what I can and can’t make for him. However, we often “cheat” a little with him (using soy sauce, for instance, or a marinade with a wheat-based ingredient in it) because he is able to tolerate very small amounts of wheat with no symptoms.

With Benjamin’s celiac diagnosis, though, there can’t be any more cheating. For him, it’s not the symptoms (in fact, even when staying gluten free, his stomach pains still come and go) that are the problem. It’s the invisible and undetectable damage to his intestinal lining. “Cheating” now means permanently damaging his body and increasing his chances of cancer, malabsorption of vitamins, other autoimmune disorders, liver disease, and on and on.

Given that 1st degree family members of celiacs have a higher likelihood of having the disease, I am going to conservatively assume that Owen has celiac and work to make our house 100% gluten free (perhaps later in life we will get him blood tested and even do an endoscopy to see how damaged his intestines are). I’ll still eat some granola bars and boxed cereals with gluten, but in general, this won’t be a huge shift for us, given that we’re already more than halfway there. I feel so thankful that we know this now so that Owen has the potential to escape the serious health implications of this disease through a strict gluten free diet for the rest of his life.

So, any fellow celiacs out there? How strict are you about sharing dishes – do you have a strictly gluten free set of pots and pans, baking dishes? What about things like butter and peanut butter – do you have a separate one for knives that touch gluten? What do you say at restaurants or when friends invite you over for dinner so they understand the severity and what it means? Where is the strangest place you’ve ever found wheat/gluten? Just this morning we realized our multivitamins had gluten and we need to find a different kind. Thankfully we eat very little processed food so I’m very in control of the ingredients we use, but things like vitamins and shredded cheese were not even on my radar before this diagnosis.

She Says… Passing the Test

When we saw the pediatric pulmonologist a few weeks ago about Owen’s breathing issues and recurrent pneumonia, she was amazingly thorough and careful and talked with us about all kinds of things that were not directly related to his asthma. One of those things was Owen’s food allergies/sensitivities. Those who have been reading for awhile know that he had a multitude of issues when we were breastfeeding (some food-related and some not), which eventually gave way to troublesome eczema, which we eventually, after months and months of trial and error, figured out was due to a mild oat allergy and a sensitivity to wheat.

Since last March or so, we cut oats and wheat out of his diet and his eczema and eating issues totally disappeared. For a long time, whenever he would find an errant Cheerio at daycare or stuff a bread crumb in his mouth, we could tell. The red, bumpy rash reappeared in patches and stayed around for a few days. Usually after that the inflammation would migrate to his ears and then he’d get an ear infection. Even though the doctor kept telling me that his IgE number was so close to normal that he wouldn’t even consider it a real problem (“just don’t give him a bowl full of oats”, was his advice), the cycles of rash and ear infection were enough for me to cut these two things out of Owen’s diet entirely. It wasn’t really hard once I knew what to be on the lookout for. Sure, he couldn’t eat most cereals or breads that his buddies are eating, but there are gluten free versions of just about everything. And, frankly, I liked having the excuse “Oh, he has food allergies” when people tried to offer him all kinds of unhealthy snacks. The only time he probably ever notices it is at snacktime at daycare. We send in a snack each day since they are often providing things like cereals and crackers that Owen can’t eat. Side note: It is AMAZING to me how many people hand food to little children without even thinking. Cookies at the library, animal crackers while waiting in line at the grocery store, donuts while getting coffee at Dunkin Donuts, etc. Don’t they realize that they should ASK the parents first?!

Now back to the pulmonologist appointment. She reiterated what I had already read online, which is that many kids who have mild food sensitivities and allergies when they are babies grow out of them, most by age 2. Our original plan had been to keep Owen off of oats and wheat entirely until he turned 2 (and to wait to introduce peanuts and shellfish, given his history), give his gut a good year to seal up and strengthen, and then start to reintroduce them and see what happened. But she encouraged us to try wheat little by little before then.

I know the jury is still out on allergies and how to “cure” them. Some say a little consistent exposure is the key to eliminating them, while others argue that every little exposure makes a possible reaction worse. Given that his sensitivities are skin-related, though, and not anaphylactic, we were game to try.

  • So a few weeks ago Benjamin was eating pretzels and Owen asked for one. We gave it to him. A few days passed and nothing happened.
  • Then we were at a friend’s house and she had made banana bread and Owen wanted to try. We let him have a little piece. Again, a few days went by and his face didn’t erupt in red splotches like in the past.
  • The other day I gave him an entire piece of homemade pumpkin bread, made with whole wheat flour. A few tiny bumps appeared on his jawline, but they weren’t red or itchy or scaly or dry. Owen was not bothered. In fact, he was in love. He begged and begged for more “beh” (bread).

We haven’t tried oats yet, since that actually showed up as an “allergy” (though slight) in his bloodwork last year. I’m slightly afraid to jinx us, but… yay! I think the wheat sensitivity may be a thing of the past! We have Owen’s 18 month well visit on Monday and we’re going to discuss it with his doctor, but I’m optimistic.

Buh bye, gluten free everything. Maybe Owen will finally like pasta now (strangely it’s one of the only foods he absolutely will not eat… but perhaps it’s the gluten free pasta he hates).

She Says… Regression

Is it backwards day?

(Remember backwards day?)

Owen has pulled the old switcheroo on me at dinnertime two nights in a row now. He turned up his nose at everything I offered him and threw it all off of his tray. Two nights ago, in a last ditch effort to get him to eat something before I filed this behavior under “toddler learning to make decisions for himself, and thus I should accept it and move on rather than get frustrated” (oh, and “not hungry”), I quickly mashed his food up in a bowl, mixed it with some applesauce and offered it to him with a spoon. Fir the first time IN MONTHS, he accepted the spoon. Not only accepted, but welcomed.

He opened his mouth like a little baby bird. He didn’t grab the spoon or turn his head or play any of the games we were playing around 10 months when he first started refusing anything that wasn’t a finger food.

Even though it happened two nights ago, it still threw me for a loop when it happened again last night. I thought it was a fluke! Here are my theories:

– He not actually that hungry, since I send him with a lot of food to daycare, and he eats 2 snacks a day there, which he doesn’t generally have at when we are at home all day.

– He doesn’t want to eat when he gets home, he wants TO PLAY. WITH ME. (I like this theory). And not be stuck in a chair. He knows from experience that the quickest way to get out of his chair is to throw all of his food on the floor.

– He’s testing me. To see how I react, to see if he gets different food (which he doesn’t), to see how far he can push me before he gets a more dramatic reaction than my normal ignoring technique, etc. Testing. Me.

– He didn’t like what I gave him to eat (which is less likely since it happened twice in a row with different food, and all of the foods I offered him are things he eats).

– He just wasn’t feelin’ it. That moment. That particular food. Whatevs.

Maybe it’s a little bit of all of those reasons. But I’m thinking mostly the first one. The kid eats A LOT at daycare. He’s a busy little bee and needs those calories, and I always send him with a little more than I think he’ll eat because I don’t want him to be hungry. You never know when he might be in the mood to chow!

For instance, here’s what he ate yesterday:

Breakfast: Slice of homemade gluten-free zucchini bread, egg & sausage omelette, strawberries. Snack: Bites of gluten-free blueberry waffle, banana slices. Lunch: Sunflower seed butter sandwich on gluten-free millet chia bread, cucumber cubes and some Dr. Praeger’s spinach/potato patty. Snack: Pirate’s Booty corn puffs and some cheese. Dinner: Homemade veggie burger made with quinoa, sweet potato and black beans, roasted broccoli & cauliflower (eventually mixed with applesauce when he threw them on the floor) and mango slices. Oh, and 20 ounces of milk throughout the day.

Whoa. I just realized he is going to be the weird kid at school eating quinoa burgers when his friends are eating cheeseburgers. Do not fear — we eat regular old cheeseburgers sometimes too!

Today he’s having:

Breakfast: Slice of zucchini bread, yogurt with pomegranate applesauce & ground flax seeds, peach slices. Snack: Red bell pepper and cheese. Lunch: 1/2 salmon burger, broccoli, plum & mango slices. Snack: Rice Chex and orange slices. Dinner: Other 1/2 of salmon burger, frozen peas, raspberries. Plus 20 ounces of milk.

Note to self: He’s not going to starve. And maybe it’s time he learns how to feed himself with a spoon so we can expand beyond finger foods! I’d love to make some yummy bean soups in the fall… I’ve started giving him a spoon to play with and try to feed himself while I’m feeding him with a spoon, but frankly he would much rather I feed him. Or throw his spoon on the floor. He doesn’t seem to have much interest in spoon feeding himself. In any case, I think that exercise of writing out his daily food just proved to me that if he ate breakfast and lunch (and two snacks, and milk) at daycare, it’s not a wonder he’s not hungry for dinner.

It’s all good.

Babies are fickle!

What did you or your kid have to eat today? (I’m always looking for new things to add to his repertoire…). Extra points if they can be eaten cold and packed in a lunchbox for daycare!

She Says… Goals

Goal for today: Make it to 4pm when training ends and send everyone off. Drive home as fast as possible and spend the evening playing with my adorable child and husband who I’ve barely seen in the last 2 weeks.

Goal for the weekend: Unplug and spend time enjoying the lovely weather and our adorable town center. Go to the farmer’s market. Sip iced coffees while Owen toddles barefoot in the grass. Do not, under any circumstances, run errands. Except maybe to the grocery store so I can stock up on food to make delicious dinners and food for Owen. I have missed my kitchen.

Goal for next week: Undo the damage I have done by inhaling surprisingly large amounts of the catered breakfasts, lunches and dinners throughout the last two weeks while running a training program at work. I may be somewhat small, but I can eat an ungodly amount of food. It’s not a talent I’m proud of! Walk Owen to and from daycare every day. Workout as many days as possible. Eat clean. Drink water.

Deep breath. Almost there!

She Says… When the Cat’s Away

… the kittens will play.

Isn’t that the saying?

While I’ve been working late the last few days, Owen learned a new trick. And instead of correcting this behavior, Benjamin giggled along with him and took a video. Thanks for your help, Daddy.

It IS hilarious. But it’s also kind of frustrating. Because although it keeps Owen giggling while he’s eating, it also means just about nothing goes in his mouth. And, you know, though Schnitzel is the right weight right now, that’s not going to last very long if he’s eating all of Owen’s food!

I’ve tried catching the food before it is dropped and saying a firm “no” (while hiding my own laughter, of course). But Owen thinks that is even MORE hilarious.

What’s a mama to do? I know, I know… lighten up? Let him be? Probably. But I’d also like for him to eat something.

She Says… More Bites, Please!

When Owen first started eating solid food, it opened a door to a world of fun things for us to do together. I adored the process of making his food and figuring out fun new combinations to feed him. Throughout the last 8 months he has eaten tons and tons and tons of different foods and he has gobbled up each and every one.

Believe me, I thank my lucky stars every day that this has been so fun and easy for us, because I fully realize it could change on a dime!

We started purees early, right when he turned 4 months old, and he moved up to “chunky” purees quickly. Hungry baby! Soon we were mixing veggies and proteins and grains to make little meals to keep him full and happy. Nom nom nom. He is a voracious eater. Honestly, I think if I left him in his high chair with some food all day he would never stop eating.

Since he started getting teeth he’s been more and more interested in “bites” rather than purees. For the last few months I have been giving him some bites along with his pureed meal to give him some practice chewing and figuring out how to get food into his mouth. But in the last few weeks the ratio has changed to be about 75% bites and 25% puree. He wants to feed himself. He is so intent on picking up everything I put on his tray that he pushes the spoon away when I try to feed him. Too busy working on these bites, Mama!

I think we’re at the end of an era, folks.

It seemed like my baby eating baby food was going to last forever. I kind of wanted it to last forever. It was such a special thing we did together. But alas, he’s becoming such a little person now that he wants to eat bites all the time… and feed himself, too! It’s pretty amazing.

I adore watching him eat. The way his chubby fingers select the one bite he wants. The way he turns to food around and looks at it before jamming it into his mouth, sometimes missing and hitting his cheek or chin. The way he giggles with his mouth open and little bits come flying out. The way he holds his open palm out to the dog for him to sniff and lick. The way he smacks his tray in happiness when he tastes delicious foods. It’s so precious.

I know that we’ll still bond over food as he grows up and eats more and more bites. And I’m still making all of his food, but there’s something so different about making him “big people” food instead of puree. Baby’s growin’ up. And Mama needs to move on. And while it’s thrilling to watch him grow, there’s a bit of sadness there too. Were you sad to move away from purees or excited that your baby could finally eat “real” food?

Also, now that he’s eating bites I feel like he’s getting a lot less food. He used to eat multiple bowls of purees mixed with whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. Now I find that grains are harder for him to feed himself, and since he’s allergic to oats and wheat/gluten free, it’s harder to find soft, moist grainy things like breads that are easy to pick up. He eats whole proteins like beans and chicken and beef and fish and cheese, and all kinds of fruits and veggies cut up into small pieces. So I’m sure he’s getting great food. It just doesn’t always seem like enough, especially compared to what he was eating from a bowl. What are/were your baby’s favorite “bites”?

She Says… What Are You Eating?

Given how mobile and busy and curious my little man is, I find myself saying this all day long! The answer is below. For one day, at least.

6:30am Lovey. In crib. (Seriously… gnawing on its gross little foot. Gross no matter how often I wash it and rotate it with the other 3 loveys we have).

6:36am Banana toothbrush. (My “you only get to play with this on the changing table” toy to keep him busy while I change his diaper lightning fast to avoid poop smeared all over the wall). Hilarious AND useful.

6:45am Bottle.

6:59am Telephone.

7:30am Coffee table.

8:17am Breakfast. (Finally something he’s supposed to be eating).

8:42am Gift card I’m trying to remember to spend.


10:59am Lovey. In crib.

11:02am Bottle.

11:15am Night light. Pulled off the wall by you-know-who.

11:36am Baby monitor.

11:56am Doggie paw. Doggie ear. Doggie whiskers. Doggie tail. Doggie toy.

12:11pm Socks.

12:42pm Mama’s leg. Ummm, ouch.

1:10pm Dog food. (Ok, not really. Dog food is dangerous for babies, so we pick up the food bowl after Schnitzel eats. But once in awhile Owen gets his fingers in the dog water!).

1:18pm Lunch.

1:47pm Books. (So much better to eat than to read).


3:00pm Bottle.

3:14pm Loofah.

3:37pm Cow toy.

4:01pm Medicine bottle.

4:23pm Power cords.

4:45pm A shoe.

5:00pm Dinner. (It’s not like I don’t feed the child!).

5:36pm Sunscreen.

6:15pm Toilet paper.

6:16pm Medicine dropper.

6:17pm Toothbrush.

6:18pm Bath toys.

6:36pm Bottle.

6:40pm Lovey.





She Says… Oh, Cheerios

So as you know, our new daycare rocks. Yesterday when I arrived to drop Owen off in the morning there was a petting zoo set up on the front lawn. A petting zoo! Complete with miniature ponies and chickens and bunnies. The warm air smelled of sun-warmed poop. There was a class full of toddlers running around with the chickens, reaching their pudgy hands out to try to catch them (unsuccessfully). I turned the corner to park my car and there were sprinklers set up with children running through them, one by one, under the careful observation of teachers who were laughing and running around with them. It was like a picture perfect summer day (poop and all!). Love this place.

On the first day when I came to pick Owen up, I saw a similarly picture perfect scene. Owen and another baby, side by side in high chairs, happily picking up Cheerios one by one and holding them between their tiny fingers before clumsily smooshing them into their mouths. Cheerios. The quintessential toddler snack.

Except for one thing.

Owen is allergic to oats.

And even without reading the label, I can pretty much guarantee you that there are oats in Cheerios.

*Upon further inspection (thank you, Google!), “whole grain oats” are the number one ingredient.

When I dropped Owen off at the new daycare I had submitted some forms that I had written his allergies on, but I didn’t remember to tell anyone about his allergy specifically because at our old daycare they only feed the children what you pack for them. I totally forgot that this new daycare supplies a healthy snack for the kids every day. That day the healthy snack included Cheerios.

I came in the room and my first reaction upon seeing Owen and his little buddy was pure joy. What’s more adorable than babies eating Cheerios together? Until I realized that I have kept this child eczema free for the last few months by having him avoid oats, wheat and gluten (even though oats are the only allergy confirmed by blood test, I’ve been avoiding wheat and gluten since a weird reaction he had to homemade bread awhile ago). MONTHS. He’s had some rough skin come and go during that time, but nothing like the red eczema cheeks he had prior to that. I calmly explained to the teacher that we generally avoid oats and wheat/gluten, but that this could be a test of if his allergy has gone away (subtext: OMG DON’T FEED MY KID SNACKS I DIDN’T APPROVE). It was my fault for not making sure they were aware when I dropped him off. But I didn’t think they were going to feed my baby! Mommy fail.

For the next day, his cheeks were fine. I thought, “Hooray! Allergies are gone! Oats are fine!”. Then slowly, ever so slowly, the eczema began to return. The third day after exposure I felt the raised bumps on his cheeks and saw the redness creeping back on the sides of his face. Sad baby. Then he started itching his face and ears like the good ‘ol days. It’s not a wonder it took me so long to figure out what the culprit was, since it takes 3-4 days for symptoms to appear. Sheesh.

At least this time I knew how to nip it in the bud. Two nights of hydrocortisone later and slathering his cheeks in lotion multiple times a day, his clear skin is back, and no more itching.

That was a close one. I feel very fortunate that his allergy is only eczema, and not anaphylactic or something more life-threatening. And I’m glad I was there to see him eating snack or I might not have known what caused the recurrence. But… problem solved! And at least now I know that (a) his allergy is real, and (b) it still exists.

Seeing how easy it is to identify the allergy is actually a wonderful thing, and I think I’m ready to try wheat/gluten and see if we can expand into a world of homemade breads and wheat-only crackers and things. Goldfish crackers! Saltines! Pretzels! The possibilities are endless. Fingers crossed those red cheeks stay away.

Oh, Cheerios. How I wish my baby could eat you.

She Says… Of All Things

Owen’s allergy blood tests came back today. I haven’t had a chance to debrief with our doctor yet, but I accessed the test results online and then commenced a furious Google search.

Milk: No
Egg whites: No
Egg yolks: No
Wheat: No
Casein: No
Oats: YES

Wha? That’s definitely not what I thought was going to happen. Leave it to my little medical mystery baby to throw us another curveball. Oats. Of all things.

I say “of all things”, because you should see the amount of oats that pass through this house. They are the one thing in our pantry I am sure NEVER to run out of. Benjamin and I eat them every morning. I use them in almost all of my baking. They were the first or second grain Owen ever ate. Heck, they are one of the first foods most babies eat! Oats. Who knew. I wasn’t even going to check for them, but just before getting Owen’s blood sample, the doctor said, “Is there ANYTHING else you can think of that you’d like to test him for?”. I replied, “I don’t know, what other grains might he be allergic to? Oats, maybe?”. Oats indeed.

Here’s the thing about oat allergies: They are relatively uncommon. That’s why parents are told that baby oatmeal is a perfect first food. It also explains why Owen’s eczema started showing up a few weeks after we started solid food, despite introducing one new fruit/veggie at a time and watching for a reaction. I guess I thought oats and rice cereal were a given. The eczema reaction (slow and gradual as it was) was to the oatmeal that I had been mixing with those other foods, little by little, to get the right consistency.

Although I am sad for my baby to be diagnosed with an allergy, I think this is a really positive outcome. Oats, as far as I know, should be pretty easy to avoid. I don’t think they are often hidden in other ingredients under different names like milk and wheat often are (though correct me if I’m wrong!). From what I’ve read, though, it sounds like inhaled oat dust can actually cause an allergic reaction like the persistent cough and runny nose that Owen has had since January. I have been blaming that on daycare germs, but I wonder, now, if eliminating oat dust in our house could also eliminate the extra boogers and hacking cough we’ve grown so used to dealing with. That means no more morning oats at the table with Owen. But it’s a price we’re more than happy to pay.

And unfortunately it sounds like oat dust can sometimes be present in other grains like wheat flour due to cross-contamination in processing. That’s a huge bummer; that we can’t be sure of exactly what we’re getting even if the package says “wheat flour”. The good news is that in the grand scheme of things, Owen’s allergic reaction is pretty mild (eczema just on his cheeks), so if he’s unknowingly exposed it’s not an issue of life or death.

The best news? Several websites I read stated that children diagnosed with this allergy often spontaneously get over it. Owen’s IgE level was .39 instead of the normal <.35, which I believe is pretty low. So that gives me hope that this is a minor thing that won’t plague him for the rest of his life.

Off to de-oat dust-ify our kitchen…

Do you have any experience with an allergy to oats or other grains? Anything else I should be avoiding while we give Owen’s little system time to recover?