My little girl Annabelle is 10 weeks old and is now diagnosed as having a soy allergy (Non-IGE mediated food allergy).
A bit of science:
Non-ige allergy are different from Ige allergies. They are less severe and reactions are usually more delayed. They usually involve symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract such as vomiting, bloating and diarrhoea. Ige allergies’ symptoms are usually immediate and involve hives, redness of the skin, vomiting and in more severe cases anaphylaxis. To this day there is no blood or skin test to diagnose non-ige allergies them but rather eliminate the food and reintroduce it to check for symptoms reappearing.
When Annabelle was 2.5 weeks old she started getting terrible skin, lots of big angry pimples which then developed into a rash with lots of tiny pimples on her neck, chest, eye lids, ears. I had never seen anything like it on babies (the twins never got baby acne).
As a worried mum I spent the night feeds googling and reading online (as you do!) about baby acne. I waited to see if it would go away. At 4 weeks it wasn’t really going away but some days were so much better than others. I felt it was linked to my diet and my instinct told me it was more than baby acne so after chatting with a friend whose baby has multiple food allergies, I took soy out of my diet as I was having a lot of soy daily. (mostly tofu for protein and soy milk in my coffee) Her type of allergy means she reacts to the soy I eat in my diet through breastfeeding. She also reacted to the soy in my iron supplement just this week even though I have been very careful with what I eat and the packaging didn’t include soy until I checked online.
When I was having soy she would have terrible reflux and would vomit quite a bit after every feed. After eliminating soy and reintroducing it I found that her main symptoms are:
- Reflux (sour/smelly vomits, cottage cheese like)
- Rash/pimples on cheeks, ears and neck
- Lots of Mucus in her poos
- Sounding like she had a cold.
- Not sleeping good
- Needing to be kept upright
- Stiff body and neck
The hardest thing now for me as a soy-free vegan is making sure I am eating enough protein and calcium as soy milk and tofu was a daily/weekly source of these nutrients for me.
This is why it is important when you think your baby has a food intolerance to go see a doctor and a dietician/nutritionist to make sure both you and bub are eating a healthy diet. Lucky for me I have been able to draw on my nutrition knowledge to ensure I get enough protein and calcium everyday. Also Annabelle is still gaining lots of weight and our breastfeeding journey is going great (without the soy)!
I am now swapping soy milk in my coffee for almond milk and increasing legumes such as chickpeas, lentils in my lunches and dinners, I also add tbsp of hemp seeds and including hemp based natural protein powders in my morning smoothie and afternoon snack if I can. I easily reach my protein requirements if I am mindful and include these. As well as wholegrains and peanut butter!
I also had to cut off most breads and dark chocolates from my diet as they contain soy flour or soy lecithin as emulsifier. Most quality sourdoughs are fine though. We will test soon if she can handle some soy flour/ soy oil in my diet through bread.
What do I eat now?
- Porridge made with coconut/hemp or nut milk
- Smoothies with nut milk (fortified with calcium) with hemp protein powder and other superfoods
- Chickpeas, lentils and hemp seeds for protein in salads and curries.
- Salads with brown rice, beans and nuts.
- Pastas with lentils, veggies, cashew cheese
- Rice crackers with hummus and veggies for snacks
- Bliss balls
- All Fruits
- All Veggies
- Dhals, veggies stews, curries homemade.
What to eat for calcium:
- Fortified almond milk – using vegan sources of calcium.
- Green veggies such as spinach, kale and brocoli
- Tahini, sesame seeds
- Some quality vegan protein powders
- Dried figs
- Chia seeds, hemp seeds.
I make sure to eat a lot of these foods as calcium requirements while breastfeeding are at the highest. 1250mg of calcium per day is required to maintain optimal health for mum and baby. I will also include a B12 supplement and a calcium supplement in my days very soon to make sure I have enough.
Do you have a child with food intolerances/ allergies? I hope Annabelle grows out of it when she starts solids!