by Carrie Saum
This post was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Wean Green Glass and TLB sister site, Our Stable Table.
Can we just chat about ED for a hot second? Yes. That ED.
It happens, nobody really wants to talk about it, fewer people want to hear about it, and yet it affects so many of us. ED complicates the most straightforward activities, creates more stress during a stressful season, and siphons our time, energy, and mental capacity to make sound decisions.
Elimination Diets suck. (What? You didn’t think I was talking about the other kind of ED, did you? Psh.)
I’ve been on some sort of elimination diet for over two years. First, it was because I was pregnant. I involuntarily eliminated most food for 5 months, then only added in what my incubating baby would allow me to consume after that. And what my unborn child wanted to eat was croissants and kombucha, in spite of my every intention of eating mostly protein, veggies and fruit. Then I birthed my baby and ate ALL THE THINGS. That was a mistake. Turns out, my son didn’t take well to many foods, even through breastmilk. After a few months, we regulated one of the meds he had to take for seizures, and I cut out wheat and dairy for starters. My son’s poop diapers improved a bit. I could easily blame the rest of his relatively mild GI issues and eczema on his meds, so I left it at that for a few more months.
Then he started solids.
Within weeks, it became crystal clear that not only was my babe intolerant of certain foods in my breastmilk, he wasn’t tolerating solid foods at all. He was diagnosed with FPIES, a rare food allergy. We ran every blood test. We tried every non-invasive alternative allergy testing method to help pinpoint possible triggers. He still reacted to my breastmilk, and it was getting WORSE. So, an Elimination Diet was the next stop on our journey.
I started small, became super strict about wheat and dairy. I added soy and sugar to the elimination protocol. It wasn’t enough.
You know what was enough? Cutting out food altogether.
Just kidding. But I did cut out many, many more foods. At one time, my elimination list looked like this:
Eliminated Foods: Safe Foods:
Corn Products (HFCS, Canola Oil, etc) Poultry
Oats Red Meat
Eggs Most Veggies
Pork Most Fruit
Cane Sugar Most Nuts and Seeds
Asparagus Raw Honey
Tomatoes Most oils
Sweet Potatoes Wine
It’s SO FUN eating this way!
Just kidding. Again. Have you tried going to a party where you can’t eat wheat, dairy, sugar, soy and corn? Because nothing says party like rice and kale, I became a master of RSVP’ing to Evites with a cute “I’ll be there with my own delicious green smoothie and big bowl of brown rice to share!”
Although all of my friends and family are supportive, not everyone understands the nuances of an ED. Some would kindly try to accommodate me at dinners and parties and ask me for a list of foods to avoid. Without fail, I would email the list and my friends would reply with “What the hell do you eat?!”. My answer? “Hopes and dreams.”
After a while, I found it was easier just bring my own food to the gathering and eat it on the sly while I pumped in a back room. That didn’t last long, though. I’m a social creature and need interaction. So, I donned my pump cover and armed myself with a safe-for-me treat and ventured out into the party. People were usually so fascinated or uncomfortable by the pump mooing next to me that they didn’t pay much attention to the weird food I was eating.
Later, when I could manage a night out without pumping every three hours, I brought enough food to share. Then I made it a game. I would try to come up with the tastiest, most decadent ED treat my limited options would allow and then present it as regular food. Pretty daring, right? It worked. My food was always a hit. And I rarely told people the ED backstory because good food is GOOD, regardless of what label you put on it.
Mamas, we make an obscene number of sacrifices for our miniature milk monsters. We wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s okay to be sad to give up our comforts while still being glad to be able to provide what our little ones need. And if the sadness of giving up ice cream or baguettes gets to be too much, replace it with something else that brings you joy. For me, it was something like this Meyer Lemon Coconut Tartlet , and this fun infographic only you will appreciate.