Thursday, September 19, 2013

Our Story

My name is Becs. I'm a New Zealander living in the beautiful Blue Mountains of NSW with my two kids and lovely husband. See that little boy up there? He's the reason why I'm introducing myself to you right now. His name is Ben and as I write this, he's gearing up for his 6th birthday in 10 days time. 

When Ben was 8 months old he was diagnosed with multiple food allergies. I knew egg was going to be an issue due to a projectile vomiting incident in a craft store - but I was shocked to learn that he was also allergic to dairy, peanut, fish, tomato and wheat. Oh boy. After a few teary visits to the supermarket I began to read books, I searched the Internet and eventually I learned how to feed my son.

Despite my efforts the next year was spent anxiously watching as our previously chubby baby got thinner and thinner. He stopped eating and was surviving on Neocate specialist formula and the occasional banana. His stomach was hard and distended and he had dark circles under his eyes. He spent his days lying on the living room floor, too exhausted to get up and play. The most obvious symptom to the outside world though, was that he hadn't grown at all in nearly a year. 

The following year it wasn't unusual for strangers to gasp at the seemingly super advanced baby in front of them as he walked around and spoke in complete sentences. It was only when I told them that he wasn't 9 or 10 months old as he appeared, but two years old that I was on the receiving end of sympathetic nodding of heads and confused looks. He was on the hospital's radar as "failure to thrive" and was constantly undergoing tests to see what was causing his lack of growth and appetite. 

Ben endured numerous blood tests, x-rays and hospital visit after hospital visit. He was tested for coeliacs and it came back "inconclusive" because he wasn't eating wheat due to his allergy and he wasn't eating enough of anything with gluten for the test to be accurate. Because of his symptoms and strong reaction to wheat his specialist suggested a gluten free trial. We tentatively started Ben on GF foods and were amazed to see him actually want to eat. He still had a lot of fear around food and would only eat while sitting on my lap or holding my hand - but he was eating! It seemed like a miracle. At his follow up dietitian appointment 4 weeks after beginning a GF diet we were all shocked to see that he had grown an astounding 6cm. Miracle number two.

Four years on, and Ben has now officially been diagnosed with coeliac disease. He still has an egg allergy but is now able to eat fish and tomato, and his allergies to dairy and soy are now intolerances. He is small for his age but he's a healthy and happy wee boy. On top of his numerous food issues he has an eye disease which was picked up when he was 2. This is a kid who keeps on going, no matter what life throws at him. He rarely gets upset when he misses out on food and deals with life with a sense of calm and peace that I often envy. 

Along the road my husband also discovered he has a severe intolerance to gluten (we suspect coeliac disease, although he hasn't been tested). Just to make things more interesting -my daughter and I are lactose intolerant. 

On this blog I hope to share with you the things I've learned over the years about healthy, gut friendly food. I'm passionate about wholefoods, raw foods, and most of all - creating yummy family friendly meals that are both safe and delicious. 

I plan to share resources and recipes with you, I'll tell you when things I try work and when they don't. I welcome your ideas too, as well as your stories and your support. Caring for a child with food issues can be overwhelming, exhausting, scary and heartbreaking. I'm living it, and I understand. 

My dream for Ben is for him to live as normal and as healthy a life as he possibly can, and I've made it my mission to do everything I can to help make that happen. Thanks for joining me!

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