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It's Personal: Food Allergies

Have you ever experienced a child being so sick that his body didn't function correctly?  He couldn't eat.  He couldn't drink.  What if life was like that all of the time?  Such was the case with our Bulldozer.

Many feel that food allergies aren't real, or that people take them too seriously.  Well I'm here to tell you it's personal for us!  Food allergies changed our lives forever.  Here is our story.
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Bulldozer was 9 days old when diagnosed with a severe milk protein allergy.  At 9 months old, due to continuous health complications explainable by several other specialists, he went through more extensive allergy testing, which showed the results below:

Bulldozer's Allergies

Severe Allergies

Egg Whites
Tree Nuts
Soy Beans
String Beans

Mild Allergies

White Potatoes

Approved for Consumption


Anything not on these lists was left an unknown.

Our life changed forever that day.

One could say I've become an expert at being a food allergy mom.  We carry Epinephrine and Benadryl everywhere we go.  My knowledge of packaged food ingredients and food processing plants is out of this world.

I've developed another personality.  My husband calls it "The Wolverine."  This is when I'm in panic and defense mode, trying to protect Bulldozer from more severe reactions.  Non food allergy parents tend to call me crazy when I'm in this mode, usually because they don't understand that food can actually kill my child.

Bulldozer was sick from birth, taking a prescription formula.  He couldn't try solids until he as 9 months old.  His main source of nutrition was his formula until he was about 2 years old.

Some of my scariest memories include Dinomite being a kind big brother, giving Bulldozer, age 1, a muffin from the counter.  I was in another room.  When I returned, Bulldozer and Dinomite were soaked in vomit. This didn't include the large puddle of it on the floor around them.  Bulldozer was struggling to breathe.

Most of Bulldozer's symptoms were ones I could not see.  As an infant and toddler, he couldn't tell me what was wrong.  It was a very scary thing to watch him react so severely to so many different foods, but the worst days were when I didn't realize what was happening.  We celebrated with vigor that  Bulldozer survived his first year of life!

Over the years, Bulldozer has grown out of some allergies including most grains, dairy, and eggs. At the same time we've discovered other food allergies along the way.  Some he's had since he was a baby have become more severe.  We are very thankful that Bulldozer only reacts when these foods are ingested.

At the age of four, Bulldozer's list of foods he can eat, is longer than the list of foods he can eat for the first time ever.

Allergies at Age 4

Brazil Nut
Chili Powder
Curry Powder
Garbanzo Beans
Kidney Bean
Lima Beans
Pinto Bean
String Bean
Sweet Potato

Any foods even processed in the same plant can cause a reaction if ingested.

Food Bulldozer Can Eat at Age 4

Bell Peppers
Black Beans
Butternut Squash
Canola Oil
Milk (Cow)


Spaghetti Squash
Summer Squash
Sunflower Seeds
Sesame Seeds
Vanilla Bean

Update (1/20/15):  Adam tried and can now eat asparagus, carrots, coconut, acorn squash and pineapple.

Updates (9/26/15):  Adam has officially outgrown his allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, and oats!

Though Bulldozer continues to have allergy testing every two years, the best way to test out his food allergies has been through trial and error, with the guidance and direction of his allergist. There are foods that we are told to not test out AT ALL, because of the severity of the reaction, which could lead to death.

There are still many foods he's never had, and so when Bulldozer is ready and shows a desire, we attempt something new.  If Bulldozer has a horrible reaction, he usually takes a break from trying new things for quite some time.  When he discovers something else he can eat, mot often he wants to try something else new sooner than later.

How do we survive this?

Over the first six months of Bulldozer's food allergy experience, our grocery bill tripled.  I was purchasing all of these special diet cook books and trying to use ingredients I'd never heard of before, which usually Bulldozer ended up being allergic to.

Over time I changed my plan.  I hosted a contest on facebook, for anyone who wanted to participate.  The goal was to find as many recipes for meals as possible that Bulldozer could eat, using everyday ingredients.  This contest helped me put together a month's worth of allergy friendly meals for everyone in our family.

My grandmother is a big magazine subscriber.  She would save all of her magazines that included recipes. When I'd come to visit, I would pick up the large cardboard box. My husband and I would then go through every magazine searching for recipes we could use.  We also used the Internet, but found it to be a little overwhelming with so many dietary needs.

I'd go to the grocery store for hours, reading the labels of every food I could find, starting with the health food isles, and then work my way to the other isles.  This was how I discovered a dairy free margarine that didn't cost an arm and a leg.  I realized that there are many cereals Bulldozer could eat, as replacements for crackers and other snack foods.  The grocery store itself made a difference.

Over time, our grocery bill lowered to about $200 a week for our family of six.  There are definitely some foods that we have to buy special for Bulldozer, due to contamination etc. but for the most part, with the exception of sunbutter and Ener-G egg replacer, I shop in the regular food isles just like everyone else.

I am very thankful that I have been blessed with a love for cooking and baking.  It brings me pleasure to make a fabulous meal from scratch.  Otherwise I feel this road would have been much more difficult.

All of our kiddos have lunch boxes for when we're out and about.  Eating at restaurants is a bit difficult.

At home, to make sure I don't mix up Bulldozer's food or contaminate it with foods he's allergic to, I use color coded plates, cups, knives, forks, spoons, etc.  Bulldozer's are green. Dinomite's are blue.  Princess' are pink. Sunshine's are purple.

When we do travel, we rent a suite or a rental home for a week, so I always have access to kitchen.  We prepare meals there, having brought our food with us, and do pretty well.

Food allergies have changed my life forever.  Dinomite, Princess, and Sunshine also have some, but nothing in comparison to Bulldozer.

More than anything else, I've learned that each day I can keep Bulldozer safe, is a day to celebrate.

Do you have a food allergy story? I'd love to hear it!

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  1. Thank you for sharing your story. What a long list of foods he is/was allergic to!
    I know the fear that goes along with having a child with life threatening allergies (yet another thing you and I have in common!) but I am fortunate that our daughter now only reacts to one thing - tree nuts. She hasn't outgrown her allergies but is on a drug that binds her IGEs (the antibodies that react to allergens) and makes them unable to work so she can now eat normally. At one point before she started on this drug, she had developed oral allergy syndrome which means her body was mistaking certain foods for environmental allergies and her list of foods she could eat was frighteningly short but this drug has changed everything for us. She actually isn't on the drug for food allergies but for her lung condition but this is one of the effects and we are thrilled.
    I pray that your son continues to outgrow his allergies and that he remains safe in the meantime. Good thing he has a mom so willing to fight for him and learn everything she could!

  2. Thank you for sharing Sharla! We do have so much in common. I guess we were just destined to become friends. :) That's very interesting about your daughter and her medication. It's amazing what some medications can do. I'm guessing she's the one with the lung problems from what you say, which is funny, because Bulldozer is my kiddo with all the environmental issues too. Not that it's the same, but you know what I mean. Bulldozer has been to every specialist under the sun through out this food allergy journey, just because even the allergist and pediatrician had their doubts at first. The list is up to 15 specialists I think. In the end we were sent all the way to Boston, MA to confirm everything when he was 15 months. So far no medications or special diets or anything have improved things for him. I get so exited when I hear about stories where something does help a food allergy kiddo. Bulldozer, who is also autistic, is just becoming aware of everything he can't have, within the last six months. It's been rough on him, but thankfully he's doing okay with it.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. My boys so far do not have any food allergies but I have life threatening allergies to latex, bananas, kiwi, bell peppers, paprika, and aspirin. They have changed my life and make me anxious and nervous to eat in restaurants and at potlucks etc. But, having a child with allergies would be truly terrifying. As an adult I have control over what I eat but kids often don't and many not have the knowledge to articulate what they cannot eat. I absolutely love the idea of hosting contests and gathering resources from everywhere. Such a difficult journey but Bulldozer is lucky to have you as his mom who is constantly searching for way to make his diet varied and balanced even with severe allergies.

  4. Kerrie, I feel for you. It's been rough with Bulldozer, especially when he developed PICA from such a small diet as a two year old. But we're on the upswing. Bulldozer is also allergic to adhesives of all kinds, such as band aids, tape, glue, stickers, etc. It's not the latex, but the actual adhesive compound. He goes into anaphylaxis when in contact. It's crazy. He also has an allergy to tylenol and most sunblocks. You two might make a good pair. :)

  5. Thank you for sharing this with us. I think my youngest my be allergic to lactose.

    Did you see your post from last week is featured on the #pinitparty?

    1. You're welcome. I wish you the best with your youngest. I did not see the feature from last week. I'll have to check it out. Thank you so much!

  6. Oh my goodness, this opens my eyes to food allergies in a new way. I had no idea they could be so vast..

    Hugs to you and your little for this challenge. Something as necessary as feeding your baby is anything but simple for you.

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!