I know you came to this article to flame me for being one of those moms. You know what I'm talking about: Horrible, helicopter, #cleaneating moms who are way too concerned with everything that goes into their Special Snowflake's mouth. In a way, you're right—but I promise you there is more to the story. Let me 'splain.
I'm very thankful that my oldest son doesn't have any major health issues, but he is definitely the sickly one in the family. (As an aside, I'd like to blame my husband for that one because he has pretty bad seasonal allergies and had asthma as a kid.) We saw a ridiculous amount of specialists for my son in his first year of life, related to a two-vessel cord, a heart murmur, and allergies. Thank God, everything is fine.
But as a baby, my son had (and still has) a pretty severe case of eczema. Like a nine out of 10. When we brought him to the doctor for help after trying almost every sensitive skin and eczema cream on the market, the doctor was shocked to see a five month old baby with weeping, bleeding, cracked, and oozing skin.
Elliott's eczema at its worst.
The doctor suspected food allergies. At that time, he advised me to cut dairy out of my diet since I was still breastfeeding. As my oldest son transitioned to solid foods, we tried to keep him on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. That was an utter clusterfuck as I was trying to learn how to feed a baby for the first time. We ultimately got him tested for food allergies, and he is mildly allergic to eggs and peanuts, only related to skin outbreaks.
So, that's good. We started to avoid those trigger foods, but more than a year later, things are not remarkably better. He also has seasonal allergy and asthma issues that flare up and have almost landed him in the hospital several times. We are using all the prescribed medications, we are doing everything the doctors said, but I'm at a point where I'm desperate. It's hard to deal with his health ups and downs, though they aren't life-threatening.
My husband and I both work for natural food companies, so we may be a little biased. I am in no way preaching about natural health, but I think we can all agree that what you eat does affect the health of your body in some form or another. This is why we decided to go balls to the wall with a clean eating, Body Ecology diet that cuts out all gluten, dairy, and sugar for a time, just so we can rebuild his digestive and immune health and cut down on chronic inflammation. We also ferment our own vegetables at home and give him probiotics and supplements every day.
If I had met a mother like myself a few years ago, I would have certainly laughed behind her back. I was under the impression that every mom who went the trendy, gluten-free route was vapid and annoying (unless her kid really did have celiac disease). So, now I am that mom. We have had to contact my son's daycare and bring special meals, depending on the menu for the day. He can't eat hot dogs and cake at birthday parties anymore—at least until we get his allergies under control.
Trust me when I say that I never dreamed of being the clean eating mom. I'm so thankful my son's allergies aren't life-threatening. Still, I assume people are looking at me as an "optional," over-the-top diet mom. To the naked eye, it probably seems like I'm drinking the Kool-Aid of natural health because I work in the industry, and I would positively die if my toddler ever put processed food into his precious mouth. I wish that was the case.
It's times like these when I'm envious of celebrities who can brag about their baby's "kind diet" because they have all the support (in the form of private chefs and nannies) they need to make it happen. I love eating healthy for myself and preparing healthy food for my family, but sticking to a strict diet for a two-year-old was never in my master plan.
It's time for me to stop whining about my #firstworldproblems since my son is in overall good health. But it is way harder than I thought to create a clean eating menu for an already picky eater that throws expensive quinoa and salmon on the floor. The added bonus to this whole ordeal is that it gives my entire family the opportunity to eat healthier. So there's that. But I still selfishly wish I could throw some goldfish crackers on his plate in a pinch.