parenting · vegan

When liquid gold isn’t so golden

My 16-month old toddler has a soy allergy. As a vegan, soy was always a big part of my diet.  I’d have soymilk in my daily coffee, in cold cereal, in my smoothies, and in any recipe that called for milk.  I’ve been fortunate to successfully breastfeed my baby for well over a year.  But that soy I was eating was in my breastmilk.

The baby always seemed to have a rash on her face. She’d rub her chin fiercely on her crib sheets and against my shoulder.  She always seemed to be teething.  She also had eczema behind her knees, behind her elbows, ankles, wrist, and sometimes even her armpits.  Even her older sister gets eczema.  I attributed the rash to her fair skin, teething, and genetics.

At her 12-month checkup, they had to draw blood to check for lead paint. My husband and I asked if they could do an allergy test too, since they were already pricking her with a needle.  The test results showed a mild to moderate allergy to soy.  It also showed very low levels to oat, wheat, and peanut.

But it all came down to the soy. Since I was still nursing, I eliminated soy completely from my diet.  I found a creamy almond milk I loved (Califa) and started to read labels even more closely.  We met with an allergist who said she could eat products with soybean oil or soy lecithin (which appears to be in everything).  My toddler’s face cleared up.  She was no longer rubbing and scratching her chin.  When I stopped pumping, I replaced the breastmilk with fortified coconut milk for her at daycare.

Last week, she needed more coconut milk at school. I still had frozen breastmilk in our freezer, so I sent that to school instead.  Well, by the end of the school day, she had her rash back.  She rubbed her chin so hard that it was bleeding.  And she had small hives on her back.  The breastmilk I sent to school was from before we knew about her allergy when I was regularly consuming soy.

Breastmilk has been described as “liquid gold.” And I’ve spent quite a substantial amount of time pumping and saving breastmilk for my baby. I had a vested interest in using it.  But after her latest allergic reaction, it is inevitable.  All my frozen breastmilk has to be tossed.

Now I can be upset or sad at all that wasted time and effort I took in pumping and saving the breastmilk. But I’ve decided to make peace with my decision to get rid of it.  It’s not worth keeping and using if it’s going to hurt my toddler.  And I forgive myself for feeding her food that she was allergic to.  I didn’t know she had the allergy at the time.  So I’m not going to carry around resentment or guilt.  I was doing what I felt was best for her at that moment.

Is there something you’ve made peace with that you want to share? I’d love to hear your comments below.

self-care · working mom

How to be a superhero when there are slipups

I started working at Bess Eaton when I was 17. I’ve been an avid coffee connoisseur ever since.  As my husband can attest, I make the best coffee at home.  I always make us coffee before we leave for work.  And we try to make it a point to sit down and drink a cup of coffee together on the weekends.

Ever since I started working full-time, I’ve been introduced to the Keurig. Its immediate caffeine injection was all too alluring.  I soon added a mid-morning coffee and a mocha for the afternoon.  Coffee buzz, crash, coffee buzz, crash.  I wanted to stop this daily grind but didn’t know how to start.  The smell of fresh coffee wafted through the office.  I was hooked.  And I hated the energy dip.  I craved a constant energy flux instead.

So on Monday, I started drinking tea in the morning instead of coffee. “Positive Energy” by Yogi Tea.  It has a nice sound to it and contains less caffeine, so I can start to wean myself.  I also have been on a green smoothie kick.  Yesterday’s smoothie was “Move it” by Kris Carr from Crazy Sexy Juice: Cherries, blueberries, banana, cinnamon, almond butter, almond milk, and spinach.  That was my mid-morning coffee replacer.  And I had green tea in the afternoon.  I felt great.  No energy crash here.

Then today at work the desire for a Keurig coffee was overwhelming.  I brought my favorite Califa almond milk with me and stashed a K-cup in my purse.  And I brewed that sucker.  I used a different Keurig machine than I’m used to, and the coffee was too watery and not as tasty as I would have liked.  So I listened to my body.  Did I really want to drink this?  Now?  I did drink half of it and immediately felt the caffeine course through my veins.  I dumped out the rest because I was craving my smoothie.  I wanted to taste the wholesome thick texture of fruits and greens.

I am compassionate toward myself.  I’m not angry or belittling my slipup back to coffee land.  I know that lasting change is a process.  The first step is always motivation.  Boy, do I want to stop the energy rollercoaster pronto.  Second, I’m gentle with myself.  I know slipups happen.  I know from firsthand.  I didn’t become a vegan and change my dietary preferences overnight.  It was gradual, and having a vegan husband at home to help keep me on track.  Three, I’m paying attention to how I feel.  How does a particular food make me feel?  Does it taste good?  Do I feel lethargic and heavy, or do I feel energized and light?

How will I be a superhero when there are slipups?

I have a plan in mind for when the desire for coffee starts to set in. If I have coffee because I pulled an all-nighter with the kids or I want to enjoy that cup of coffee with my husband, I want it to be 100% decaf.  And at work, luckily I haven’t found a decaf Keurig blend that meets my standards.  I will keep trying new smoothie recipes to have variety in my mid-morning beverage of choice.

I’ll stick with my “Positive Energy” and green tea for now and see what happens.