Monday, December 20, 2010

In the beginning...

In the beginning, I didn't even know what gluten was.  I didn't care.  I was so happy, so wonderfully excited that I had two perfectly healthy boys.  What started our family's quest to healthier, happier lifestyle was some minor bumps throughout our children's early childhood periods.

Our boys are Oliver, who just turned 6 a week ago, and Parker, who is 4 1/2.  Our boys are rowdy, crazy, fun-loving, active boys.  They enjoy exploring, learning, getting dirty, and mostly, creating anything they can get their little hands on. 

Shortly after Parker was born was when we first found out about his "food sensitivities".  I nursed both my boys when they were born and at about two months old, Parker began having temporary breathing problems, allergy symptoms, and he would sometimes break out into hives.  Nothing too serious, but as he had not started any foods yet, his pediatrician suggested that I go on a restrictive diet.  It seemed to help as his rashes and hives disappeared and his breathing got better; however, when it was time to start baby foods, it began all over again. 

He did not tolerate the mixed grains cereal, any baby food that I did not personally make, or dairy well.  He wasn't what the doctor's considered "allergic" to it though; they just kept insisting he would probably grow out of it so I should limit it for awhile and try again later.  I was so relieved...I didn't want to have one of "those" kids that needed special foods and that couldn't enjoy their friend's birthday cake because they were allergic.

Fast forward a few years...Parker was on all regular foods, including dairy.  Both boys are thriving and happy.  The only downside thus far is their constant allergies.  They both seem to always be on breathing treatments, they constantly have these bumps on their upper arms and cheeks, and they would sometimes gets little eczema patches on their skin.  My pediatrician decides to do some testing on them, beginning with allergy tests.

For any parent that has experienced allergy testing, it is a horrible, tear-inducing (for both my boys and myself) process.  The biggest shock was the test results though...both boys were allergic to almost everything they tested them for.  Oliver even tested positive for chocolate...and he loved chocolate!  Cauliflower??  Who is allergic to cauliflower I asked?!?  We completed some more testing and the allergist explained that all though they were not life-threatening allergies, the boys were "sensitive" to the allergens.  She recommended three (3!!) different types of allergy medicine in addition to the two kinds of breathing treatments they were already on. 

Now, I am not a big fan of medicines.  I believe that most of us take too much medicine as it is, and so to put my children on five types of medication daily so that they could breathe properly and quit wheezing, well, I was very upset.  I just couldn't imagine having to make my children swallow this pill and that pill everyday...but I didn't know what else to do.

Then after a few months, I was cleaning my kitchen counters with some fairly gentle cleanser.  My youngest, Parker, climbed up on a stool and leaned his arm on the counter.  Within a few moments, his arm was red, hot, and splotchy looking.  All of sudden I had this thought...we are doing something wrong with our children.  Something is making them sick, and I decided right then we were going to find out what...

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