My son Aaron (we call him Aars – pronounced “Airs”) was born in Spring 2004. It was a “textbook birth” apparently; and I wondered at the marvel of birth and announced if I could do that again tomorrow I would!
I breastfed Aars exclusively until I became ill with food poisoning and my body stopped producing milk. Aars was five months old and we were on holiday with my family who popped to the shop to buy some formula milk and a bottle for him while I sat on the loo and puked into the bath in our holiday home!
They made up the formula and accidentally as they approached Aars with the bottle a drop of the formula dripped from the bottle and onto his forearm. Immediately a huge blister rose from his wrist to his elbow. They were freaked out! Put the bottle down and the local doctor was called.
I was given drugs to help me produce milk again and we were advised to avoid formula. When it came to weaning he loved banana, so I thought blueberry and banana might be lovely to try – he spat it out and projectile vomited everywhere…all around his mouth he was covered in angry red welts and blisters. This reoccured with numerous foods that I did not know people reacted against – like cranberries, cucumber, courgette, peas, red peppers, humus… We never tried dairy or egg in his mouth as his skin had reacted severely on numerous occasions when he had come into contact with it.
Thus we began to learn of Aaron’s allergies. New food I introduced to Aars’ wrist and if there was a skin reaction we avoided it. If it seemed ok we would put a dot on his lip, if that reacted we left it, but if there was no reaction he would try a tiny bit and see how he felt over 15 minutes…slow and laborious and in honesty we gave up on lots of foods as he had reacted to so many and was getting scared of trying new foods.
We found fruits he was safe with and we foraged together he loved picking plums from the orchard and popping them straight into his mouth. Blackberries, apples, raspberries, strawberries we grew and ate them straight from the plants and trees. My concern was ensuring that he had enough carbs, protein, calcium and vitamins in his diet so that he would grow.
His first anaphylactic shock was when he was four and a half – it was a “free-from” biscuit which had changed ingredients to include dairy. In the midst of separation and moving house I had not noticed the little green star stating new ingredients!
Aaron and I baked bread every other day making up recipes as we went; we packed the loaves and buns with seeds and nuts as Aars had no reaction to these and they had good fats in them from my perspective. We baked cookies, cakes, pancakes & lots of treats that normally had dairy or egg in, experimenting to see what would work in their place. It was normal for us and we enjoyed the process of cooking together. I want to share our very simple recipes with you – which you can adapt for your child’s unique dietary needs as you avoid the allergens which are harmful for them. All of these have been the product of experimenting and fun in the kitchen.
Now Aars is now a teenager! His last two anaphylactic shocks were 5 months apart and both to soya – which had been a “safe” food all his life. We have since discovered that this is due to a cross-sensitivity with silver birch pollen which we discovered he has a severe allergy to in 2014. It has also caused other reactions to previously safe foods, thus we have lost nuts from his diet and various raw fruits. This means that there are recipes on my blog which do include previously safe foods for Aars like nuts – but all the recipes are clearly marked with the allergens in them, so you can find nut-free recipes if that is what you are after.
When I started this website I called it FREE 2 BAKE with the optimistic tag line of “recipes of progress : away from anaphylaxis”. The purpose was to supply the hospital with free-from recipes for the parents and carers they came into contact with through the allergy clinic who were new to the notion free-from baking and cooking. Every week, when we went up to the allergy clinic for food challenges, like baked egg, baked dairy, white fish, chickpea, sesame seed… challenges, I was scrawling out recipes for desperate mums and nurses.
None of us should feel alone or overwhelmed by food allergies. Food is not only an essential part of survival it can also be a delight and delicious for everyone. We have thirteen+ years of experience with a very limited diet, adapting recipes so that Aaron wouldn’t miss out. We want to support others new to these restrictions ensure their children don’t miss out on delicious and nutritious food.
Aars managed to pass a few of the food challenges and as a result we developed recipes for baked egg and baked dairy foods to keep his daily intake tasty and interesting. Unfortunately Aars became very ill about nine months into the process of food challenges.
It has taken a year, a couple of biopsies under general anaesthetic to receive the understanding and diagnosis of Eosinophilic Esophagitis and Gastritis (normally referred to by the more pronounceable acronym of EoE). Apparently 2.7% of severely allergic children suffer from EoE and Aars is one of that tiny minority. It means that we have had to abandon the baked allergen intake, and have been unable to pursue a path away from anaphylaxis via the normal desensitisation route. Thus I have abandoned the original optimistic tag line of my blog, and changed it to “allergen-free recipes”.
We have lost other foods too as we tried to manage the EoE through diet, but the EoE is still rampant. As I write at the beginning of 2018 Aars is in the middle of a three month course of steroids, with an op due at the end of February to see if they have helped.
We hope that you are encouraged by our story and that you find some yummy recipes you can enjoy with your little ones. To aid you in discovering a creative freedom in approaching baking away from the tradition methods and ingredients.
It felt like a huge accomplishment to get Aars safely into his teens, and on his thirteen birthday (March 2017) to celebrate this momentous occasion posted a piece on the positives Anaphylaxis has brought to our lives! You can read it here!
smiles and peace to you,
Apparently I need a disclaimer!?