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A New Lifestyle Ensues: Living With Food Allergies

by Landon Gilfillan on September 14, 2012

A New Lifestyle Ensues:  Living With Food Allergies

Discovering Food Allergies

Well, I’ll just cut to the chase.  We found out last night that our 19-month-old son is indeed struggling with food allergies.

While I have suspected for awhile that he might have some intolerance to gluten and dairy, I did not expect to find out that he is also allergic to eggs and soy. Wow!

I consider myself a pretty savvy person when it comes to alternative cooking, but this is going to be interesting!

Ironically, I have been gearing up for this discovery for some time now (three years to be exact), but little did I know there was a deeper purpose behind my interest and research in the subject of food allergies.

Three years ago when I was pregnant with our first child, my husband and I suspected I was struggling with some food allergies and decided to check it out.

I also suspected he had some of his own, and though he doubted my suspicions, I talked him into taking the food allergy test with me.

Low and behold, I was the one in the clear while he “popped positive” for gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, and bananas (of all things.)

So, we began to look into what that meant, and if he needed further testing.  I luckily had some close friends who struggled with the same allergies and they gave us some very good advice and insight on the subject.

To make a long story short, though he attempted to, he never got tested further (much to my dismay), and he didn’t see a need to change his eating habits seeing as how he wasn’t experiencing any negative physical effects.

I, on the other hand, strongly disagreed knowing full well that there might be something going on inside that he was completely unaware of, but after awhile I just gave up saying anything.

However, my reading and research on the topic continued for the next three years, partially due to fact that food allergies and gluten intolerance, in particular, are known to be a genetic syndrome which could possibly pass to our kids.

So, it was no surprise to me when I started noticing things in my son (child #2) that mimicked what I knew to be symptoms of food allergies.

It all came to a screeching halt when recently his pediatrician declared him an “allergy baby” and said he was showing signs of asthma. “Asthma?????” I thought, “No one on either side of our family struggles with asthma.”

Charlie had to be put on an inhaler and prednisone due to his breathing complications at the time, and that just did it for me!

I have seen what happens when children are diagnosed with allergies and asthma at such a a young age, and there was no way I was going to accept that as his final diagnosis.

The Research Continued

The doc suggested we have a blood test done, two in fact, one was for food allergies and the other was a celiac panel.  The tests came back negative, but I wasn’t satsified.

I kept reading and asking those around me who had struggled with the same diagnosis and who had to go beyond the standard blood test recommendation to find answers.

As I scoured books and the Internet, I discovered that indeed, blood tests were not an accurate indicator of food allergies, in particular, gluten intolerance.  Many people who now are clearly diagnosed as gluten intolerant or as a celiac at one time received a false negative blood test.

So, what next?  Enter Dr. Kenneth Fine, M.D. at Enterolab in Dallas, TX.

I was given Dr. Fine’s name by several people, but my good friend whose husband and his family all are diagnosed celiacs was the one to finally convince me to check out

Everything I read about Dr. Fine and his research sounded legit, but just to be sure I did an Internet search on “gluten intolerance and stool tests”.

His name and his website were all over the place, and I read nothing but positive reviews by people who now were living successful allergy-free lives.

So after more reading and more discussing, we decided to move forward with the stool testing for our son.

Allergic To Gluten, Dairy, Soy, & Eggs

The waiting period after sending in the stool sample killed me!  I just knew I was right on my speculation… but what if I was wrong?  What if we had just spent all that money to find out he wasn’t allergic to anything?

But then again, what if he was gluten intolerant?  I couldn’t bare the thought of feeding him the very foods that were making him sick?

But until we had some solid proof, financially, we couldn’t start investing into such a dramatic lifestyle change.  This was pure agony for me; however, I made the best of it.

Working at a health food store enabled me to make some subtle changes without straining our finances.  I started buying things on sale or mark down that didn’t contain the possible allergens.

I scoured magazines and recipes for things I could cook that were gluten and dairy free and within our weekly grocery budget.  It wasn’t so difficult, and actually proved to be very basic.  I was ecstatic!

Then the results arrived (last night to be exact.)  I couldn’t bring myself to look at them.  I finished cooking dinner, praying all the while, and then sat down at the table with my kids and decided to brave the news.

I was so afraid that my suspicions were wrong, but I was also nervous to see that they were right.  More than anything, I just wanted answers to my son’s current predicament (and possibly lifelong condition.)

As it turned out, I was right but it went far beyond what I had suspected.  He had elevated antigen levels to gluten, dairy, soy AND eggs!!  Wow!  I did not see that coming!

But I was so relieved to know that changing his diet (and therefore my husband’s and my daughter’s) would be the solution to his problem instead of inhalers, medications, breathing treatments, and who knows what else!

I could handle this.  I knew what this meant, and I had the know-how, the resources, and the sheer determination to make it work, especially within our tight budget.

God’s Infinite Wisdom

What amazes more than anything is that God, in His infinite wisdom, already knew what the results of Charlie’s test would be and had set in motion a solution before we even knew we needed it!

I have spent about the last twenty years of my life studying anything and everything I could get my hands on about nutrition and its effect on the body.

Though my degree was in music (and my professional career), my true passion has always been health.

I spent many of my youthful days working in my best friend’s family’s health food store, and it was there that I began to learn about nutrition from a more holistic and “natural” standpoint.  I’ve often said that Dodson’s Health Food Store shaped much of who I am today.

How ironic is it that I find myself working in that very store at this present time?  Ironic or providential?

After moving to Oklahoma in late April, I immediately went to Dodson’s and told the owners (my friends) that if they ever needed any part-time help to give me a call.

Well, three months later, I received that very call!  I was so excited, not only at the opportunity to return to my roots, but to be immersed in the very thing that I am so passionate about!

Working there has been a blessing from day one in so many different ways, but now that we have received this information about our son, it has become much more than that!

Not only do I receive a discount on anything I buy at the store, but I have a working knowledge of all the products and when they go on sale or clearance.  I have saved a lot of money on things that would normally put an enormous hole in our budget!

Not only that, I have a huge resource at my fingertips – all the gluten, dairy, soy, and yes, egg-free products I need for our new lifestyle!  Plus, books, magazines, pamphlets, and personal advice from the many others who are living the same way.

Again, I couldn’t have concocted a better solution on my own, but the One who knows all and can make anything possible, had it in mind before we ever did.

Looking To The Future

I’m sure I will write more informative articles on this issue of gluten intolerance, celiac disease, and food allergies in the future.  It’s something that has interested me even outside of my own family’s condition.

But for those who are unaware, gluten intolerance is a permanent lifestyle change – that is if you want to avoid the negative consequences to your health that would occur should you choose not to avoid it completely.

That being said, many of my recipe posts from here on out will most likely be recipes that are gluten, dairy, soy, and/or egg-free.

It only makes sense that what time and energy I do have available will be geared towards learning more about this way of eating and how to make it work with our family, and possibly yours.

Even if these issues are not something that you deal with on a daily basis, I have no doubt that someone in your circle of influence is dealing with a similar situation.

Unfortunately, food allergies and gluten intolerance are at an all-time high in our society; and sadly, there are a number of people who unknowingly suffer.  Awareness is the key, as well as some basic nutritional knowledge.

Had it not been for my nutrition and health background, I would have accepted the doctor’s diagnosis of asthma as normal and not pursued other possible causes.

Afterall, doctors is always right…. Or are they?  Of course, that’s another topic for another day.

So, in closing, I’m off on another new adventure, one in which I hope will be an encouragement to many of you, if not an enlightenment for some who unknowingly are in the same situation.


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