Does your child have food sensitivities? Eczema? Mood swings? Oh, tell me about it! A few months ago, my toddler developed a bad rash on her cheeks that spread further and further till it almost covered her whole body! Furthermore her tummy has been hurting often and her emotions were all over the place. Those are read flags for food sensitivities...
We've been always feeding her very healthy, and when the rash started, at first I only reduced a few foods a bit, because I didn't want to restrict her too much. However, when the rash kept on spreading more and more, it was very scary and painful watching my beautiful girl being covered in itchy, inflamed skin. I could see that I had to take it more seriously and that her gut needed really a good break and healing. I stripped down her diet to very selected foods and had to stop making exceptions. She basically ate cooked vegetables (but no nightshades), meat (no chicken, no pork), blueberries (no other fruit), white rice, quinoa, avocado, lots of squash, and bone broth. No sugar, no juices, no gluten, no dairy, no eggs, almost no seeds, no legumes, no nuts at all. The transition was quite hard for a few days, but all in all she got used to it quickly and was fine with it for the most part. She knew what it meant to have a tummy ache, so she understood. I explained to her that "tomatoes make your tummy aua" and "squash is good for your tummy". At first she keep on asking about cheese and apple juice. After about 2 weeks, she somehow forgot about it. Then is was only difficult, when she's seen somebody else eat something she couldn't have, especially because people kept on offering her food, meaning it well. It took a while to explain everybody that she can only eat certain foods because of food sensitivities and that we had to take it seriously now.
It was a difficult time. However, it was so worth it: She started feeling better, her temper changed significantly, and her skin cleaned up - first in the face, then on the extremities, her bum and her back. What a relief! At first, the rash always came back a bit, when she did have a little bit of something on the NO-list. Now, after about 6 months on this even stricter than a hypoallergenic diet, she can have a little bit of almond milk or egg for example, without that the rash breaks out again. Her tummy is still quite sensitive and lets us know right away, if something was too much for her body. This way we can adjust accordingly, before her system gets too much out of balance. So important to listen to our body's messages!
It's no surprise actually: already Hippocrates stated "all disease begins in the gut" . The health of our gut is directly linked to our mood, immune system, skin and so much more. Our outside-skin shows what our inside-skin (gut lining) looks like. It makes sense that a nourishing diet is essential for a healthy gut and therefore overall health. If you notice any food sensitivity symptoms for yourself or your child, such as eczema, rashes, hives, diarrhea, gas, cramps, bloating, swelling, tiredness, mood swings, headaches etc. on a regular basis and are not quite sure which foods the culprits are, you can give the system a reset and go on a base diet called 'hypoallergenic diet', avoiding common allergens for about 2 months. That gives your gut some time to heal and the inflammation to go down. Then you can try reintroduce foods one by one, about every four days. If you feel any symptoms coming back, keep on avoiding the food for some more time. The goal is to eventually bring the gut to a state, so that it can handle at least some of the foods again occasionally. Even just knowing what it is that is causing the symptoms, is so empowering! Then you can make a conscious choice if it's worth it for you having the pizza (for example) or not, and are not left wondering why you are hurting the next day. Many people are doing well with a rotation diet for maintenance (rotate foods about every 4 days), after having gone on a food elimination diet for several weeks. If you could use a hand with this, send me a message and together we can make a game plan for you or your child. By the way, my clients love the family coaching option. Changing to a healthier lifestyle is easier and much more fun when the whole family does it together and supports each other!
As you can imagine, I had to come up with some very different recipes while I felt that there were hardly even any ingredients left for foods like muffins, or smoothies etc! The good thing was, that my daughter was grateful for anything I was able to give her and quite gracious in all of it. She wanted a smoothie and I felt at first at a loss of what I could put into it. All the usual ingredients were out: no banana or any other fruit but blueberries, no chia and hemp seeds, no almond, oat milk or goat milk, no dates, no almond butter... So I made up a simple but nutritious hypoallergenic smoothie (recipe coming soon!) for her that she loves and gobbles up almost every day. The good thing about cleaning up the diet and cutting out sugars is that the taste buds adjust quickly. Luckily she doesn't mind stevia or monk fruit sweetener, which are great, natural, sugar alternatives.
Below you find the recipe to the chocolate quinoa muffins that we made yesterday and the whole family enjoyed. My daughter loved helping with the baking and was as happy as a unicorn at preschool today, presenting her chocolate quinoa muffins at snack time :)
Quinoa Chocolate Muffins
Makes 12 medium sized muffins
2 cups cooked quinoa (2/3 cup uncooked quinoa and 1 1/3 cups water
4 eggs or 'flax eggs' for hypoallergenic diet (per egg you use 1 tbsp of freshly ground flax seeds and 2.5 tbsp of warm water, warm up water lightly on the stove and then stir in flax seed powder, mix together thoroughly and let sit for 5 minutes - only use fresh flax, the delicate omega 3 fatty acids get rancid easily, best is to grind up yourself in a coffee mill or Vitamix dry blender and store in the freezer)
1/2 cup unsweetened rice milk or coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup date sugar, coconut sugar or use a few drops of stevia or monk fruit sweetener for zero sugar
1 cup unsweetened cacao powder (best is raw cacao)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Bring water to a boil, add quinoa, lower the heat, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes (till soft). You can also cook the quinoa beforehand or use leftover quinoa.
Add rice milk, flax eggs or eggs, and vanilla to a blender. Mix well. Then add the cooled, cooked quinoa and melted coconut oil. Blend it all together.
In a big bowl, add the cocoa powder, sweetener of choice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then add the quinoa mixture to the dry ingredients and mix till well combined.
Line a muffin tray with paper muffin cups, and distribute the dough evenly into each cup.
Bake for about 35 minutes. You can test to see if it's done by sticking a toothpick into the middle of a muffin - if it comes out clean, it's done.
Let muffins cool and enjoy! You can also freeze some of them for later, however, they didn't last long in my house ;-)
Happy toddler happy mom <3