Allergies, Autism, and Diet


Gluten-free, Casein-free Diet For Autism

Before the twins, Zion and Hosanna, were born (they turn four in six days) our family went on the gluten-free, casein-free diet to help our oldest son, Elisha, who has autism, with his behavior.

The diet was challenging. The learning curve was steep. I had no idea what was really in some of our foods (and we don’t eat that many “weird” foods), until I started seriously reading labels.

We stayed on the gluten-free, casein-free diet for about two years. We saw great improvements in our son’s behavior and everyone else’s too.

Then along came our twins and…

Allergies and Eczema

We discovered, in the first year of her life, that our daughter, Hosanna, was allergic to dairy, eggs, and nuts. She had severe eczema and other issues related to her allergies. It was an obvious choice to me that we dropped the gluten-free, casein-free diet in favor of a diet free of her allergens.

Side note: Moses is allergic to mushrooms and shellfish, so those are out too.

Okay, so are you with me so far?

We were gluten-free, casein-free, but then we turned dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, shellfish-free, and mushroom-free. Try and come up with some fun (and frugal) breakfast ideas. I dare you!

Outgrowing Allergies?

We were told that if we avoided her allergens as completely as possible for at least two years, we could attempt to bring them back in. My daughter, Hosanna, is nearing four now and we have recently added back in dairy to the whole family. She does okay if we have it in moderation, but lately she has had some strange new eczema patches. And now our oldest son, Elisha, is having behavioral issues again.

Side note: While we have tried adding in the dairy and the egg (in baked goods only), I will NOT attempt this with the peanut/nut allergy. With the nut allergy, I would rather further testing to see if she still reacts.

Gluten-free, Casein-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Shellfish-free, and Mushroom-free (What’s For Dinner?)

My husband (Jonah) and I have been discussing our options. I am convinced that the food has something to do with Hosanna’s eczema outbreak as well as Elisha’s recent behavior. I was leaning towards going back on the gluten-free, casein-free diet, as well as staying away from all the other allergens, but the thought scares me.

Since we know that dairy (casein) is the biggest culprit for Elisha, we decided to start by eliminating that first and see how we do. The first 3-6 weeks can often be really bad if he goes through a withdrawal from those foods, so we can only pray for grace.

If we have success, we will stop there and just remain dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, mushroom-free, and shellfish-free. That is a mouthful and it’s no wonder we don’t eat out much.

Planning And Preparation

If we don’t have as much success as we would like, we will continue on and remove the gluten as well. This is a much bigger job and will require more planning and preparation on my part.

All of this means that I must be much more on top of planning meals. I must be going back through my recipes and pulling out the ones that I created based on old war recipes and new vegan ones (thank you Google). I am excited, nervous, and ready for change with our food in the hopes that we see benefits for our family.

I have discussed the changes with my husband and the two middle boys, but not Elisha. I wanted to just go ahead and quietly implement the changes at the end of the month and see if we could sneak them in without him noticing. Here’s hoping he is not a frequent reader of my blog.

If you are dealing with food allergies, feeding a large family on a tight budget, or otherwise challenged in the kitchen, I would love to hear your comments.

large family good eats

Breastfeeding Twins – Weaning Twins

creating family memories

I have thought a few times recently that I need to write about weaning the twins. I wrote here about breastfeeding twins and what it looked like from my perspective.

I read this article that Meg wrote about weaning her baby and I wanted to respond in the comments, but my response would be too long for a simple comment.

The twins are going to be 4 in May. We have whittled our way down to a morning and evening nurse (on a good day). We only nurse on my bed. There are days where they will ask for more. There are nights when they will ask for more. It’s a work in progress.

During the day, we go through a list now: 

  • do you need mommy (or daddy) to play with you?
  • are you thirsty?
  • are you hungry?
  • are you tired?
  • do you need a cuddle?

Most of the time we find something on the list that works.

During the night, it is harder. It’s harder to say no at night. They cry and I want them to go right back to sleep and not wake up the rest of the house. I am trying to wait a few minutes before giving in and it is working (sometimes).

I want to completely drop all night waking and nursing first and then move on to the last two feeds. We are so close.

  • We have talked about nursing only in mummies room. (unless you are bleeding from your nose and then you can nurse anywhere you want).
  • We have talked about them being big kids now and how the nummies won’t be there forever.
  • We have talked about them needing to finish nursing so we can move on to potty training (all 3 of my big boys toilet trained very quickly at the age of 4). The twins love peeing in the tiny potty at bath time, so it won’t be long now.

I will be honest, I had no intention of nursing beyond three. Hosanna had so many allergies and needed the comfort when she woke with itchy eczema feet and ankles that it just worked for us. It was easier to nurse and go back to sleep. Well, with twins… what one wants, the other expects.

I am just spent, done, ready to quit, but I have learned from past nursing experiences (3 older boys) that FOR ME dropping the feeds slowly and making the experience end well is what I really want. I don’t want to quit in frustration (which I totally have been tempted to do MANY times over the last little while).

I want the end that I had with Malachi. It was a gentle wean and one day I realized it was over and it was okay. Malachi and I nursed through many changes and transitions in our family and it worked really well for us. He nursed until around his third birthday. I remember sitting on his bed one day trying to remember the last time we had nursed and then I realized it was over, but it was okay.

I also think about if the twins will be our last babies (yes, I know they are not babies any more, humor me). I am nearing 40. Elisha keeps reminding me that I will be 40 in the year he turns 13. Oh, isn’t that lovely! It makes me feel a little old to realize that next year I will have a teenager. Where did the time go? So, I have been thinking about the twins possibly being our last babies and while I am tired and only just now getting my brain back, I am a wee bit sad.

Babies are so much fun. They bring life and energy to any home, but they are also a ton of work and wrought with sleepless nights. I would love to have more babes, but that is not up to me, it’s up to God.

Back to the article that Meg wrote on her blog. I loved it. I also wanted to offer hope. She mentioned that she was recently diagnosed with PCOS. I was diagnosed with PCOS a very long time ago (I was in my late teens) and we have had 5 beautiful babies. We have also had 3 very emotional miscarriages. I don’t know if the miscarriages are related to the PCOS or not, but it is not the doctor or the diagnoses that decides if you have more babes or not. Just keep that in mind.

I would love to hear your breastfeeding/weaning stories if you want to share them in the comments or leave a link to blog posts you have written. 

Eczema and Allergies

special needs

Eczema and allergies may not be considered special needs in the traditional sense, but if you are a mother of a child with severe eczema or allergies, then you know how much extra work it is.

With eczema you often need to try many different products before you find one that works for your child (and even then, it does not always work for very long) and you need to be diligent about applying the products.

With allergies you need to adapt your cooking, you can’t eat at restaurants without adaptations, and you need to bring your own cake to birthday parties among other things.

We have 5 children (10, 8, 6, 2, and 2). Our youngest child and only daughter (she’s also a twin) has eczema and allergies. We spent the first year or so of Hosanna’s life carting her to the family doctor, the pediatrician, the allergist, the dermatologist, the lab and back to all of them again.

Hosanna is allergic to eggs, dairy (goat’s milk and cow’s milk), and peanuts. She has an EpiPen (USA and Canada) for the peanut allergy. We have been adapting our household and our recipes to fit her allergies and still be affordable for our family of seven. This in itself is no small challenge. I hope to post more of our recipes here on Large Family Good Eats.

Hosanna’s eczema is itchy and painful (I am sure anyone with eczema knows how this is). Her skin has often been cracked and bleeding. With eczema the story is the more you itch, the more you scratch, the more you itch, the more you scratch is the way it goes. She is only two so it is very hard for her not to itch. She needs to wear long sleeves and leotards even in the summer. For her eczema we have tried just about everything.  I won’t list all the creams and lotions (prescription or otherwise) that we have tried that haven’t worked because there are too many. We have,  however, found something amazing and we have started to make it ourselves. It is a special combination of Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, and Beeswax.

Do you struggle with the challenges of eczema or allergies with your children?

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