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“Is he a good baby?” I hated that question, loathed it, because I didn’t have a ‘good’ baby – I had a challenging, constantly screaming child and my only response to that question was a big, fat “no”.
My detox food journey began last December. Back then, my 3 month old son was crying. And not normal crying, but constant, “my tummy hurts” kind of crying. And it broke my heart. At first we thought he might have reflux and got him going on Zantac, but I felt guilty about medicating my child so early on. The prescription didn’t really help either. Additionally, I had a pediatrician that informed me that, “Babies just cry – new parents just don’t realize how much”, which made me so angry. I hit my wall at Christmas when Bennett screamed for 17 straight hours. With a new pediatrician and a suggestion to eliminate all dairy from my diet, I felt more hope for the happy relationship between mother and son that should have existed than I had ever felt during his short life.
To this day, I can’t believe the immediate difference no dairy made. Within the week, my son went from challenging to down right delightful, and for the first time I could honestly say that I loved being a mommy.
Prior to this discovery, I didn’t realize what a huge impact food had on overall health and vitality, for me or for my breastfed child. I had always eaten healthy, but had the nasty habit of binge eating. I could eat a whole 1/2 gallon of ice cream in one sitting, no problem. A plate full of brownies? Yes, please! But pair the 2-3 times a week sugar splurge with a steady exercise regimen and healthy meals, no one was the wiser. Having to give up dairy meant no more generic baked goods and definitely no more ice cream. Even most processed foods contained milk; I gave it all up.
Around February, Bennett started to develop eczema. It wasn’t horrible, but after 3 nights of battling with the boy to stop tearing his skin off, I thought there had to be more solutions than the ones we were already implementing. After a little research, I discovered that in addition to the cold weather and itching, eczema can also be triggered by food. To combat this, I started an elimination diet. For 40 days, I cut out all gluten, soy, corn, shellfish, tomatoes, peanuts, citrus, eggs, and dairy, which I was already off of. To do this, I went off all allergens for 12 days and then would insert one back for a day. After that day I would wait 2 days, while maintaining the elimination diet, to see if there were any reactions. Below is a picture of my ‘calendar’ I set up on my bedroom mirror. It really helped me visualize where I was at in the process.
At the end I found that Bennett had issues with dairy, eggs, and large amounts of gluten. The itching definitely subsided, but I found there were a lot of other benefits to cutting out highly allergic foods.
In Bennett’s case, his itching battles ceased. The baby acne on the back of his scalp cleared up and he became a happy, easy baby. I can now say he is ‘good’!
More strikingly, I also received a lot of benefits to the food detox. Externally, I was able to finally lose my baby weight. Prior to giving up dairy, I hadn’t been able to kick the last few pounds from pregnancy. From December to now, I have lost almost 20 pounds, 12 of which are under my starting weight. I haven’t felt this slim and fit since high school! Internally, my body feels cleansed. My own acne has cleared up and the IBS I’ve had over the years is completely gone. I also feel in control of my eating now because most of my cravings are gone. The distinction between feeling awesome and feeling horrible and the relationship these feelings have to food is much more acute now.
I know this type of detox food diet isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t for me long term (mostly because it’s just hard!), but something about having the power to take your baby out of pain was really motivating to me. And I do plan to continue some of the new habits I’ve acquired because they just make me feel good. For example – coconut milk is awesome! I love it in my coffee, and I love knowing it has more calcium in it than cow’s milk. I also plan on limiting my gluten intake; brown rice and quinoa are great carbohydrate resources that are healthy alternatives to pasta and bread. And my vice – ice cream? I found an amazing brand of sorbet with little more than water, sugar, and fruit in it that tastes shockingly similar to its creamy cousin for 1/2 the calories and no fat. This food detox has been a surprisingly pleasant way to usher in motherhood by letting me get a grip on my diet and helping me create healthy habits to model to my children.