Today, I started making dinner at 2:30 p.m. I can smell the blackened, Caribbean chicken cooking in the oven. On the stove sits the quinoa and steamed veggies. A month ago, I would have waited until the last minute and thrown some frozen meatballs in the oven and pasta in a pot. Now, it’s not that easy.
Three weeks ago, Em was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis and prescribed a 6-food elimination diet. She can no longer eat:
Yes, there is still stuff she can eat. No, it doesn’t leave much. It’s been a steep learning curve for me and I’m still trying to get a handle on it. The day she was diagnosed, I went to three different grocery stores and spent two hours reading the ingredients of the things she liked to eat. I came home with two bags – mostly filled with produce and meat. The experience was enlightening and discouraging. I knew there was stuff she could eat, but I realized how many products have soy and gluten in them.
According to gikids.ca, Eosinophilic Esophigitis (EoE) is an inflammatory condition in which the wall of the esophagus becomes filled with large numbers of white blood cells called eosinophils. Eosinophils play a role in allergic reactions and are prominent in other diseases associated with allergies such as asthma. . .and eczema. (medicinenet) “Unlike food anaphylaxis – the acute allergic reaction – these patients have chronic activation of the adaptive immune system” says Dr. Marc Rothenberg, director of the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Essentially, something Em has been eating has triggered the production of eosinophils, which has caused inflammation in her esophagus. EoE presents differently in adults/young adults and children. Em’s symptoms include poor weight gain, gastro issues, abdominal pain, and strong food aversions. Those symptoms, coupled with her severe eczema, prompted her gastroenterologist to scope her in June. The biopsies indicated EoE.
The diet was prescribed to eliminate all the top food allergens in the hopes that the whatever is triggering the production of eosinophils is no longer injested. Eventually, we will reintroduce these foods, one at a time, and assess her reaction.
We’ve had mixed results.
Good News: Within the first week of being on the new diet, Em’s abdominal pain and gastro issues disappeared.
Bad News: Unfortunately, her eczema persists and she’s actually lost more weight. At almost 3 and half years, she is under 10 kilos (22 lbs). While it’s normal to lose weight after a major change in diet, she doesn’t have any to lose, which is cause for concern.
Every day, I learn more and my cooking has improved! Although the rest of us are not restricting our diets when we’re out, our house is free of soy, eggs, dairy, gluten, nuts, and fish. Em can eat anything here.
Chances are, I’ll be blogging about our journey often. In the meantime, wish us luck! We’ve been waiting for a diagnosis since Em was 9 months old. Though we are beyond relieved to get one, it will be a big adjustment.