Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Food preparers beware

The difficulty level in preparing foods for David has me a bit spooked. Read a label on any box, container, pasta.... in the pantry and you will see why. Nearly everything includes a variation on corn or soy.
Both are used extensively in items such as:
  • sugars (particularly powdered and brown)
  • baking powder and other leavening ingredients
  • flours
  • pastas
  • cereals
  • canned soups
  • bullion cubes
  • canned beans (think Bush's baked)
  • canned fruits
  • canned veggies
  • snack food items of all kinds from chips to fruit snacks and flavored yogurts
  • foods in foil packages as the packages are often dusted with a corn product to prevent sticking to the packaging
  • crackers
  • condiments
  • juices
  • sodas and many other beverages...
the list goes on and on and on and on.

Products that have an ingredient of "citric acid" often have used an acid derived from corn. Corn is hidden in the ingredients listed as:
  • modified starches
  • vegetable oil(s) (the standard veggie oil is made from soy)
  • alcohol
  • syrup
  • citric acid
  • maltodextrin
and once again the list continues.

This means I can't use traditional baking powder, I need to find a brand that uses a potato starch or make my own. This means that my vanilla may not be safe and I have to investigate it prior to cooking with it. This means I have to research my oats, nuts (can't be processed in a plant with peanuts) and coconut before I make David some granola. YIKES!!! Same with my powdered sugar, brown sugar, flour, pastas and so on. Thank God I have one less class in the Fall. Food preparation will be a full time job.

Of late we have been attempting to eat more plain veggies and grilled meat. Both of which should be safe. Some waxed fruits/veggies however are also now unsafe. Horizon organic plain yogurt appears to be safe. My neighbor and I had dinner one night and she served a dessert of fresh fruit and plain yogurt. While we were in San Antonio we got smoothies from a Mediterranean place that made smoothies from yogurt, bananas, other fresh fruit and a bit of honey. Combining both concepts, I have been making breakfast smoothies with the yogurt and fresh fruits. They are delicious but only a short lived fulfillment as there isn't much protein or fiber to keep one full until lunch time. David had one this morning. He mixed his with blueberries and the yogurt.

I'm feeling overwhelmed and I have to go shop. David and I made a pasta I think is safe last night and he tossed it with fresh mozzarella balls, garlic and Parmesan with a little olive oil. I'm still not 100% certain that my garlic is corn free. YIKES!

In the beginning

We just found out yesterday that David, my husband, has a food allergy to corn, soy and peanuts. David started going to a GI specialist for the better part of 2009 trying to figure out the cause of his problems. We met in 1999. David had a few of the symptoms even then, just not nearly as noticeable. This blog is to collect all our resources in one location and provide a bit of information for other people that may also be looking for answers to their GI problems or need resources for a newly discovered corn, soy or peanut allergy.

  • Eczema
  • "Personal noises" - my term for David's little hiccups, burps and other throaty noises. He didn't think that anyone else could hear them because they feel as though they are in his chest/throat and rarely actually arrive as a full blown belch.
  • Heart burn - excessive. In the past two years has been getting much worse. Poor Hubs pops Tums like a kid eating Smarties candies.
  • Bloating
  • Irregular BM's (sorry Love, it's a symptom and this is for medical purposes)
  • Breath that smelled rotten (literally)
  • GERD - this diagnosis was received and medicated with Nexium about 3 months or so ago. While the Nexium worked really well, it had unpleasant side effects and David didn't like the prospect of being medicated for life.
Prior to being married (03/05) the first, most noticeable, symptom was Eczema. Something most people don't realize, is that Eczema is most often a symptom of a food allergy. Actual skin irritations causing eczema is a secondary cause to food allergies. David called me and said "I have this weird rash on my arms and behind my knees and on my calf's..." I couldn't see it over the phone, but I said some of it was probably ring worm. I had picked up some ring worm on a missions trip to Mexico and had seen him while I had it. I was skeptical about it getting to his legs though so told him to see a dermatologist - it was probably eczema. I recommended iodine for the ring worm. He put iodine on every thing. The rash in a loose ring on his arm went away but the stuff on his legs didn't. A trip to a doctor confirmed eczema. He occasionally got eczema when we were in northern states, often in the winter (think chili and corn bread) but a quick visit to a tanning bed for a little while and it would clear up. I didn't think chili and corn bread at the time.

When we were first married the primary symptom was "personal noises". He had some affection for Tums but only occasionally.

After moving around together for Hubs' job, for a few years we bought a house and settled. David traveled nearly every week, for a couple of days for his job. His Tums popping habit got significantly worse. And the BM's were, let's just say, odd. We attributed it to his poor diet while on the road and excessive use of Tums (taking too many Tums to alleviate heartburn can cause irregular BM's). He often ate take out or pizza or fast food. The heartburn, the bloating and the BM's were all bothersome but were easily overlooked in light of his on the road diet. Foods we rarely eat at home. When David came home from several lengthy business trips late November he didn't take another trip for several months. We couldn't blame a poor diet any more.

Over about a year David's breath had turned sour. Even after having just brushed his teeth his breath would smell rotten, unfortunately, literally. I often would ask if he was dehydrated and we attributed the bad breath to dehydration. We live in TX after all. But there were times when we would attempt to blame it on dehydration but his urine would be clear. A sure sign of good hydration.

I finally asked David to see someone about what was going on. He was miserable and the personal noises and breath were out of control. We went to a general practitioner who referred us to a specialist (waste of time and a co-pay by the way - we don't need a referral to see a specialist, so cut the general practitioner out if you can). David went to see a GI specialist. She diagnosed him with GERD, put him on Nexium and started running tests. I mentioned it could be a food allergy but David decided to go with the GI specialist.

Several months of Nexium and we realized a side effect that is rare but unpleasant. The GI specialist had mentioned to David that a few months on Nexium may clear up his problem entirely so David stopped taking Nexium. The symptoms came roaring back full force. And he wasn't taking Tums so the BM's and bloating couldn't be explained by anything. Another drug, more testing.

At the same time a dear friend of mine was seeking answers to similar GI problems. She was also dealing with a severe rash as well. She was going through laundry detergents attempting to clear up what she had been told was an allergic reaction to detergent. She went through extensive food allergy testing about 2 months or so ago. She discovered allergies to wheat, strawberries, walnuts, specific fishes, cayenne pepper and a few other equally random allergies. She adjusted her diet and now she looks amazing. She has more energy, her rash is completely gone and her GI problems are dramatically reduced.

I mentioned again that allergy testing would be a $35 co-pay and an hour or so and may provide answers. David endured one more procedure with no results or answers and booked an appointment with an allergist.

The allergist was skeptical about David having food allergies because he didn't think that his symptoms fit a food allergy. We had done research on the internet and I had spent a lot of time discussing things with my friend (who had been looking for answers for at least 2 YEARS). David was tested for the 9 most common food allergies. Corn, egg white, fish mix, milk, peanut, pecan, shellfish mix, soy and wheat. Coming up positive for three. Corn, soy and peanut. David said that the nurse walked in to check his back and said, "Now this is interesting." She was skeptical as well when David went in. The doctor told David he had seen one other patient with similar symptoms. That patient had also had a corn allergy.

While we aren't certain that eliminating these foods from David's diet will solve his GI problems we are quite hopeful. David is going to remain on his current medication for another 4 weeks or so while we eliminate all food items and allow his body to flush the corn, soy and peanuts from his system. When we go off the meds, we shall see if his problems were indeed food allergies. We haven't found any other answers through testing ordered by his GI specialist so this is our best bet as of now.