food intolerances

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by firstangel, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. firstangel

    firstangel New Member

    Dear friends,
    I haven't been around here for a while, we've had some rough time. And then, about a month ago, having already tried everything else, I've had D. tested for food intolerances and he came out "allergic" to milk and dairy products, eggs and tomato. He's been on a diet for the last 3 weeks or so: the first 2 were really hard and his behaviour seemed to get even worse, but in the last few days he seems a different kid, he's calmer, his tantrums last about 2 minutes, he's smiling more, the circles around his eyes are less visible, he doesn't get into so many fights at school as he used to, he doesn't roar at people anymore, he just looks happier..
    Could food really be his problem? Is this only a temporary improvement? I don't know a lot about food allergies, I tried that but with no real hope that it could be helpful.. but it had, and it is the only thing that has worked in the last 2 years!!!
    We're supposed to start reintroducing food next week, but I'm scared.. I want to keep things as they are.. I've just discovered my son, the real him, don't want to loose him now..
  2. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    My 23 year old is allergic to cow's milk and hasn't had it in ANY form (we read every ingredient label for milk, whey, casein, sodium casinate, butter fat, etc.) since he was 3.

    While he had hives, nausea, vomiting, and eczema, the driving force of removing milk completely from his diet was behavior. He was extremely hyperactive, and we began to coorelate this with any exposure to milk. It takes at least 3 weeks for the body to get rid of the offending proteins. With all his issues, it just wasn't work trying any re-introductions. It's perfectly doable to raise a healthy kid with no milk - many veggies and nuts have calcium, and we went with calcium fortified juices.
  3. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    My daughter, formerly diagnosis'ed with ODD and Depression, is a easy child because of the girlfriend/CF diet. She's been on it for 4 years.

    I have never been willing to reintroduce milk or gluten to see what would happen, but there have been mistakes along the way that have shown me what would happen.

    As inconvenient as it is to avoid these food "allergens", it works perfectly when she does it.
    I think you are lucky to have found out about his milk allergy.
  4. firstangel

    firstangel New Member

    So you suggest we skip the reintroduction completely? We've removed milk and dairy products, eggs, tomato, chicken meat, lamb meat and beef.. There still are a lot of things he can actually eat, and he likes his new diet and how it makes him feel, but misses chocolate, cookies and LASAGNA :) (he's a little human Garfield).. I've tried new recipes for chocolate cake without eggs, butter and milk, and I search supermarkets for treats he can eat, and we're doing quite fine..
    But my question is still there: the last 2 years have been hell, could that have been just because of allergy??? Are we going to be fine now? Last week I was terribly tired and hopeless, this week I'm insanely happy and scared this bless will end.
    I also had to get into a fight with D' psychiatrist as he didn't want to test him (which I did anyway and had to pay for it) and he wouldn't want to sign a request for a special diet for pre-school even though he had come out positive from the testing
    I'm wondering how come (and I read this forum and find it in so many posts) educated people, doctors, who are supposed to be there to help other people and children in particular, seem to find pleasure in NOT DOING SO??????
  5. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Can you find a new doctor who will work WITH (instead of against) you on this issue? It must be infuriating not to be listened to.

    I'm not familiar with all the ins and outs of substitutions, but I'm sure others here can point you to places to find recipes for making a dairy and tomato-free lasagna for your son.

    I'm so glad things are improving for your son!
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'm curious about what sort of testing was done; generally food intolerances don't show up. There is a difference between allergy and intolerance, and usually the behavioural problems are not allergy, they're sensitivity. It's a different biochemical pathway. But you will always find some doctor somewhere who will be happy to take your money.

    We were lucky, we had access to a mob who just happened to be doing a research project into autism and food sensitivity. So we had the benefit of a multidisciplinary clinic specialising in just this area, but within a major teaching hospital. Also because it was research, there was no cost to us. So we had the experts. We had pediatric immunologists and dieticians, mostly.

    Here is a link to them to give you access to their website and their FREE information.

    Look up their notes on food intolerance and read up on the difference between intolerance and allergy.

    The way this mob worked it - we had to write down absolutely everything that passed difficult child 3's lips in the week between appointments. We also had to list any behavioural problems. It was all logged onto a time sheet so food/drink ingested was time-stamped and so was behaviour. That way any possible connections could be seen. difficult child 3 was also given a thorough work-up and detailed history taken.

    When they started us on the Elimination Diet, they took into account that we had already had difficult child 3 off all dairy and all gluten for a month with no apparent change in symptoms. So thankfully, they left those out of the picture; they said if dairy or gluten were a problem, eliminating them would have shown improvement, and it hadn't.

    The Elimination Diet is drastic and not sustainable long-term. It is not meant to be, it is only meant to take everything back to basics so you can remove all possible causes and then once the child's behaviour has improved (hopefully) you then begin introducing the least likely problem foods first. For everything you re-introduce, you take your time and only reintroduce one food group at a time. After three to five days of no change, you can then introduce another group. If there is a sudden deterioration in behaviour, that food you just reintroduced becomes suspect and has to be eliminated again. So it's back on the diet (but allowing what has been put back in the diet with no problems) until the child is stable again. This can take another fortnight, but usually a week is enough after a long period of being 'clean'.

    The idea is to eventually get a really good idea of which groups are the problem. You can then work out how sensitive the child is - can they tolerate a little of that group? Or none at all?

    The full-on Elimination Diet was basically no artificial additives at all (no artificial colours, no preservatives, no artificial flavours) but that was just getting started. It also eliminated naturally occurring chemical groups such as salicylates, amines and glutamates. We were given a book which the dieticians had laboriously put together, telling us which foods were safe to eat and which foods fell into which category. We took that book with us whenever we did our shopping.

    About all difficult child 3 could eat was chicken (without the skin), lamb, potato (without the skin), pears (without the skin), white rice, white sugar and variations on this. Because we'd already checked out gluten and dairy and found that removing them brought no change, difficult child 3 was allowed to have one kind of bread (it was my home-baked one, using one particular brand of flour) and also allowed to drink milk. There was one brand of ice cream he was allowed (vanilla was permitted; no other natural flavouring permitted, they contain salicylates) and one brand of lemonade (because it was only sugar and water, there was no real lemon in it). For a special treat he was allowed to have home-made 'honeycomb' - the stuff that is made by pouring a hot sugar syrup over sodium bicarbonate so it froths up and sets like a golden crumble. Finding the home-made stuff was tricky. Needless to say, difficult child 3, already skinny, lost even more weight on this diet.

    You would think that the best diet for your child would be one with a wide range of fresh organic, home-grown food. But when you're concerned that your child may have food sensitivities, it's actually a bad diet. But that's only because the Elimination Diet's only purpose is to test the child.

    I was told by this team that there is no true way you can really know which food groups or which foods your child has a problem with, if it's a sensitivity/behaviour issue. Blood tests won't tell you. Skin pricks will only tell you if it's likely to cause anaphylaxis.

    Now, after difficult child 3 had been on the Elimination Diet for 4-6 weeks, the expectation was that his behaviour would improve. If he 'fell off the wagon' (which can happen even accidentally with a diet like this) then we had to give it a full week with no breaks in the diet, before trying a challenge.

    The problem we had was that difficult child 3's behavioural/health problems did not improve, even on the Elimination Diet. After two months they told us to try the challenges. We began to reintroduce each group - to test salicylates, we gave him a spoonful of honey. For amines - we fed him dark chocolate and bananas. A solid challenge! And so it went - but again, no change.

    So where difficult child 3 was concerned, the clinic declared that we had given it w thorough try, but in difficult child 3's case, diet was not a factor.

    They told us that in their studies, they had found that with autistic/Asperger's kids, modifying the diet brought improvement in about 30% of cases. And of course it was rarely a great deal needing to be eliminated, usually it turned out to be one group only, and if it was handled well the child could generally tolerate a low level from that group, it didn't always have to be totally removed.

    We did a similar thing back when difficult child 1 was 6 years old. We did find a couple of things with him - he reacted to oranges, and caffeine. Nothing else.

    You ask why D's doctor didn't want to sign the paperwork for the special diet - it is for the reasons I stated earlier, the science just does not support the 'testing' that 'verifies' 'allergy'.

    However, if your own careful (and recorded) observation of D shows that his behaviour definitely improves when you take him off certain foods and deteriorates when he goes back on those foods, and you have tested this carefully a number of times, then I suspect the doctor will happily sign the papers.

    I remember back when difficult child 1 was being tested for sensitivities, one of my sisters lent me a book which she had used in testing her own son. The book described the pulse test, where you put the child on an elimination diet of sorts and record the child's pulse before and after eating every day. When the pulse has been the same before and after eating, for some days, you can begin to challenge. When you reintroduce a food and the pulse doesn't change, according to the pulse test, the child doesn't have a problem with tat food. But if the pulse goes up a significant amount (can't remember how much, it might have been 10%) then that food is declared to be a problem. However, I believe the pulse test has also been discredited as being unreliable. It didn't stop books being written about it, though.

    The area of food sensitivity and allergy is full of rubbish ideas as well as good information. Sometimes it is almost impossible for the lay person to find the right path in the mess. But if you go down the wrong path it can lead you astray and cost you a great deal, without you getting the help you really need.

    The other thing to remember - we were told that 30% of kids on the spectrum improved their behaviour when problem foods were eliminated. But this was not a cure, we were advised. The child still had autism or Asperger's. It just meant that another obstacle had been removed or reduced.

    In difficult child 1's case, we put him on medications and it helped a great deal. We also found that while on medications, he could tolerate some orange juice and his orange-juice symptoms wouldn't show up. But the caffeine was always a problem, even on the medications.

    In difficult child 3's case, he's fine with oranges. We also keep him off caffeine but actually I don't think he has a problem with it, not like difficult child 1. But he also has to take stimulant medications, actually a much higher dose than his big brother (who's now on quarter the dose his baby brother is). Plus we constantly work on behaviour modification, social stories, the Explosive Child methods - we do absolutely everything we can. There is no one perfect answer, you just do whatever you can get to work, even a little bit.

    so with your son and his diet - keep good notes. Record everything. Those notes become your 'bible' to let you know what is working and what isn't. Never forget that your son is a complex individual, affected by many things in his environment as well as in his diet. He may have a more difficult day because:

    1) He has eaten something he shouldn't have, maybe an additive not on the label, or a piece of home-made cake brought in to school by a classmate;

    2) Someone at school said something to upset him even though they may not have realised that what they said was upsetting;

    3) He could be coming down with a cold but not yet showing symptoms;

    4)He could be hungry or more tired, perhaps had a nightmare the night before;

    5) Any other reason. Or some or all of those reasons.

    You've removed a lot of foods from his diet and he is feeling better. But you don't know which of the things you have removed could be the culprit. The way we were taught to test this - keep a detailed diary of what he eats and when, plus his behaviours and when. Then while he is stable you deliberately introduce a food and record any change. Keep that food up and note any changes. If there are no changes after a number of days then you can conclude that food is not a problem. Good - you just expanded his repertoire. And from our experience, likely foods to be safe include lamb and skinless chicken, both cooked without any herbs or spices. Make sure it is preservative-free.

    You can try, it's all you can do. But you can never know all of the answers all of the time. Plus your child will be different. It's not necessarily the more obvious or more likely allergens that could be the problem (if any). I have lots of allergies, mostly to antibiotics. I also used to have problems to egg white and to cows milk. I was raised on goats milk because of my cows milk problems. But an even more common allergy is to shellfish and to house dust, and I'm fine with both. husband has no antibiotic allergies, no shellfish allergies but is a mess with house dust. He also can't eat eggplant, or corn chips, they cause vomiting. He can eat white corn chips, but not the yellow ones. SIL2 is allergic to pine nuts and to mango. He's fine with eggs, no troubles with cows milk, has no issues with gluten. Just pine nuts and mango. They make his mouth and throat swell - classic allergy, potential anaphylaxis.

    Allergies can be bizarre. Food sensitivities can be even more bizarre but because they are not generally life-threatening, you get a lot more 'quacks' exploiting you. A lot of them believe in what they are doing, but that doesn't make them correct, unfortunately.

    Your own notes and your own observations are going to be worth far more to you and also cost you far less financially.

    Read through the website I gave you and see if you can use that information to help you find your own way through the expensive minefield, without having to cost you more than you're already having to pay for a difficult shopping list!

    Good luck with it - this trial phase is the hardest of all. Once you have a good idea of what he can eat and what he can't, it's a lot easier to maintain. also as he gets older, sensitivity issues can ease (thank goodness). difficult child 2 now can have oranges and caffeine without problems.

  7. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    That's wonderful news!

    Many parents have discovered food allergies as a source of behavior issues with their children. Now a days, there are so many options available at your local grocer. One of difficult child's friends has a dairy allergy and his mother makes the greatest cupcakes, muffins, cakes, pizza, etc., that the whole family enjoys.

    There are many vegetable-based "meat" and "cheese" products out there - not just tofu-based that you could use to make some of his old fav foods. Go online and do a google search for tomato substitute and I bet you could find something to make his lasagna with. They have glutton free pasta - mixed with the vegetable based cheeses (which melt just like regular cheese and taste so much better than fat free cheese - try a few different brands to find the one he likes the taste of - they have cheddar, moz, etc.) and you can make his lasagna. I'm kinda wondering about subbing some other mixed veggies with vegetable stock - give it some good flavor sautéing it with some herbs, then use your immersion blender/reg blender to give it the consistency of tomato sauce then make that lasagna!!

    In regards to the doctor - find another one who is more supportive of your son's needs.

  8. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    My son actually tested positive on scratch testing to cow's milk - but we knew he had issues with it long before that.

    He can tolerate goat and sheep milk based products. It's the casein in cow's milk he has issues with.

    One caution on substitutes - you still need to read ingredient labels. Many "dairy free" products use "sodium casenate" as a thickening agent. That's the part my son is allergic to, so he cannot eat any of these products. I use either tofu that I flavor with herbs and garlic, or goat cheese when preparing things like lasagna for him. He has no issues with tomatos, however - I'm not sure what would be a suitable substitute for that.

    If you haven't read it, Dr. Doris Rapp's "Is This Your Child" became my bible while working through all this.
  9. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    Since you have eliminated so many things, I think you should try them one at a time to see how they are affecting him.

    I tested barely positive for milk intolerance. I don't eat it regularly because I can tell it has a negative affect but I can have it occasionally. I do react very badly for a long time to even small amounts of gluten and I avoid that at all costs.

    We were just in Italy and discovered buffalo mozzarella. My daughter is able to tolerate dairy products from buffalo and goat. We also saw creme caramel from goat milk on a menu there. Your son might be able to tolerate these even if he can't have cow's milk.

    I have never needed a note for school or camps but I have always sent her food. If you have to have a note, maybe you could try the lab report showing the results.
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Why can the allergy doctor not write the note?

    We had allergy tests done by a nationally known and respected allergy doctor. Other docs know him, though patients don't unless they or a loved one have seen him. He did skin testing. He says that testing has come a long way in the 10 years or so since Marg's family was tested. They prepare the samples used for testing differently, among other things. Our doctor doesn't do the much more expensive blood work because he can usually get the same results through skin testing with properly prepared samples. One challenge in allergy testing is the environmental factor. If you test for environmental things in one location and then move, you will have to have much of it redone because there will be new things in the new area, and some old ones won't be needed. Even 60 miles is enough of a move.

    Our allergy doctor identified foods and suggested retrying a couple that thank you had had problems with at a young age, ,mostly because they change as they grow. We are lucky. thank you does not like the taste of items he reacts to. Even in a fruit punch he can taste pineapple or orange and it is "yucky" to him. I was tested and was sensitive to nothing though my nose and eyes run like faucets every spring, fall, summer and winter. In MY case it is not allergy or true sensitivity. It is an overreaction of the cells that the allergens land on. They just react to everything. I have a sinus rinse bottle, similar to a neti pot in function. It does FAR more than any allergy medication EVER did.

    I would probably try re-introducing the meats, but that is our family style. It is quite do-able to cook with-o dairy. I did it for many many years for my youngest. We also avoided strawberry, orange, pineapple, all artificial sweeteners (he cannot breathe and needs epi pen if he gets some. Thank Heaven they all taste very bitter to him so he knows to spit out anything with that taste. He would do it anyway even if they were not dangerous for him.) and we limit tomato to a few servings a week. cooked tomato only. He reacts more to fresh. We still keep soy milk in the house because he prefers it, and I have to really watch the Tofutti cream cheese or it is gone in one sitting. We ALL love it - it tastes richer than cream cheese.

    The tofutti cuties ice cream sandwiches are AWESOME. They are smaller than reg ice cream sandwiches and one is as or more satisfying than a reg ice cream sandwich. They come in some great flavors too.

    The worst that will happen from trying some of the foods he reacts to is a sore tummy and a child who acts out for a few days. It will go away when the body is cleared of the item. So retrying some of the foods shouldn't be too bad. Just be sure to do it slowly and carefully, one food at a time.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    One thing to be wary of - if you or your child seems to be prone to allergies, you need to keep an eye on foods known to be high-risk. And that high risk includes soy.

    This is why elimination diets are often proposed - because if you simply substitute, say, soy milk for cows milk and you notice no change, then it could be that the child has a problem with both, and you just switched one atopic food for another.

    Susie, the allergy/sensitivity stuff we did for difficult child 3 was only 5 years ago now. I've also stayed in touch with their work so I'm aware of any new things. What you describe is allergy testing, but often we confuse allergy with sensitivity, and a food sensitivity often will not show up with allergy testing.

    OK, the example I'm about to use is old, it's from my own medical history, but I'm trying to make a distinction here.
    I knew I was allergic to a couple of antibiotics. True allergy, too - I would get a rash (hives) if I took those antibiotics. I wanted to have advance warning of what else I might be allergic to, so I asked to be referred to an allergy specialist who did skin pricks on me. With what I know now, it was a major waste of time and money. The guy did not find any evidence of antibiotic allergy (even the ones I know I am allergic to) I think because he didn't actually test for them. I grew up with hat I had always been told was a cows milk allergy - but the testing was negative. However, in the scratch tests I tested positive for house dust, and tomatoes. That is allergy testing - and I was positive for tomatoes.
    Now at the time I was eating tomatoes every day, almost. No rash, no health problems. It really puzzled me, until I remembered - I would always get itchy when I went to pick tomatoes. Brushing past the plants, the touch of those fine hairs on my skin would make me itch ferociously. So the stuff the guy tested me with, was possibly tomato plant, which when scratched onto the skin caused a reaction but when ingested, was 'handled' differently by my body.

    Testing may well have improved in recent years, but our bodies are still working much the same, humanity hasn't evolved to change that much lately. You can be sensitive to something on your skin but OK with it when ingested, or vice versa. I react to preservatives in cosmetics now, but only if they are applied too close to mucous membranes. That means I can't use cosmetics near my eyes, for example. But I can use the same creams, etc on my skin in other areas of my body.

    Susie, your description of your 'hay fever' type of reaction is a good example of the limitation of testing as well as our often misinterpretation of the issues. You don't have an identified allergy, but a problem is clearly there, it just doesn't have a name. Your body's over-sensitivity to pollen etc - it does sound to me like a histamine reaction, but it appears to be only those cells in the mucous membranes in the sensitive area which are reacting. That is because in other parts of your body, the problem product is not able to make an impact on anything which it will react with. The reaction is localised and specific to certain cell types. An interesting test result for you to check out, would be your blood levels of IgM and IgA. Sometimes they can be out of whack when you get tis sort of reaction.

    You have been told it's not a true allergy or sensitivity, but if you are someone who has those symptoms and hasn't been told that, you would describe it as an allergy. It's like a poster I once had - "I think I'm allergic to mornings." People call all sorts of reactions, an allergy. We throw the terminology around too loosely and it can cause great confusion when we are talking to doctors who have their own more detailed, highly specific definitions.

    At least you have found a practical way to handle it.

    And often that is the best we can do - find ways to manage it ourselves.

  12. firstangel

    firstangel New Member

    I'm sorry, I said allergy, but you're right Marg I meant sensitivity. English is not my mother tongue and I get it wrong sometimes especially with medical words..
    D had cytotoxic test, a blood test, also known as Bryan's test. Some doctors here in Italy think it has no scientific basis (as our psychiatrist) and others think it works (as the doctor who suggested us to do it and to follow the diet). I've been keeping a diary of what he eats and how he behaves for the last 3 weeks, but I still can't associate behaviors to food. Maybe it takes more time than 3 weeks.. I've been spending some time on the site you sent me the link of Marg, unfortunately we don't have anything of the kind in Italy, it's really helpful and interesting, I can get a lot of info there.
    Tonight D went to sleep into his own room and in his own bed: having slept in a sleeping bag beside my bed for the last month or so, I find it a huge improvement!!! :) Before going to bed he said "I feel quite mature tonight", "Is it because you're sleeping in your room tonight?" I aked. "Yes, partially, but especially because I helped you bake the cake like a real chef!!" :) :) So cute..
    I've ordered "Is this your child" from Amazon, waiting for it to be sent. In the meantime read all the labels on products at the supermarket and also begin to suspect that not all the brands have the same standards in labelling. For example some dark chocolate has the writing "it may contain traces of milk, nuts" etc while others don't have it. Is it because that chocolate might NOT contain traces of milk or just because the producer is less scrupolous?
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    A lot of manufacturers are putting on the cop-out phrase "This product may contain traces of nuts" or whatever, to cover themselves in the event someone has an anaphylactic reaction. A nut allergy is generally very nasty. But the label is often used idiotically. I've seen a packet of peanuts with the label "warning - product may contain nuts".

    Unless you're concerned that your child is really, really badly sensitive, I would check the ingredients labels only and not worry about "this may contain..." elsewhere on the label.

    The site I sent you to, gave us some books (designed for Australia) which listed brands to aim for, and brands to avoid, based on information they had obtained form manufacturers. The booklets were little more than computer printouts so they were constantly being updated. If you haven't got anything like that in Italy, you may have to make your own enquiries.

    A serious suggestion - you could try sending an email to the clinic on that website asking if they know of anyone you could approach in Italy, who could help you with this dietary information. I know these people go to international conferences at times.

    He sounds like he is also really committed to doing well. See if you can involve him in reading labels too. I found it helped difficult child 3 feel some ownership of his own medical management. Even though we've moved way beyond this, he still checks labels all the time. Also, independently of all this, he and I each have a food colouring allergy (different colour for each of us) so we also check labels for that.

    If the tests indicate an allergy that you can't actually produce in reality, it shows a limitation of the testing methods. The most valuable information will come from your diary. If after 3 weeks you're not seeing any change, then there are several possibilities:

    1) You need to try it for longer. We were told 6 weeks or more, but we also were told to expect some improvement after 2 weeks.

    2) You may still have something included which is also causing problems, so eliminating X while keeping Y, both causing the same problem, will seem to give you no difference.

    3) Your child may not have behavioural improvement from dietary modification. As we were told - only about 30% of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids are able to be helped this way.

    All you can do, is what you are already doing - trying to find out. It is slow, it is tedious. But if you do it properly, you gain valuable information (even if the information is, "it's not applicable to us").

  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Awesome! Congrats!
    I know how you feel about reintroducting anything.

    Tomatoes? Hmm. I suppose we should try that. We still haven't done corn or chocolate, either. Poor kid, it's like there's nothing left to eat.
  15. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    For food sold in the US, manufacturers have to list the top 8 allergens, including milk, on the label. I think the statement "may contain traces of . . ." is voluntary.

    We have found that some of the products that have that warning definitely do contain traces and cause a reaction. Some of them don't. I am always reluctant to buy my kids something that has that warning on it but I will if there aren't any good alternatives and we won't be home soon.

    Since you are just trying to figure out what food intolerances he has, I think you should avoid products with possible traces of milk. Then, if you determine that milk really is a problem for him, you can experiment to see if traces affect him.

    We had some pretty ugly scenes early on when I didn't pay attention to the traces warning. If I hadn't personally experienced how much better I felt without gluten and how the traces did affect me, I wouldn't have believed such an extreme behaviour reaction could come from such a supposedly tiny amount of milk or gluten. I might have given up on the whole idea of food playing such an important role in behaviour.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    FirstAngel, you're doing well with your English. Don't feel too concerned if you confused "allergy" with "sensitivity" - a lot of native English speakers do this too.

    My sister J (the one who has been so desperately ill in recent weeks) was telling me when I visited her on Friday, that she has been suspecting she has a problem with cows milk, and so took herself off all cows milk products. She needs to build herself up (having lost so much muscle muss and weight) but all the body building drinks she's been brought, are cows milk-based so she won't touch them. But meanwhile, while avoiding cows milk, she was still eating yogurt every day for breakfast, plus taking these "transfer factor" pills (which, as far as I can determine, cannot guarantee they contain any transfer factor, contain NO human transfer factor and are taken orally so containing such factors is immaterial, they get digested, not assimilated) which are based on cows milk.

    So she was trying to avoid cows milk because she suspected a problem; she remembered her son's milk sensitivity in childhood which was a digestion problem, so yogurt was OK for him; then each day she was taking a small dose of something that was really stirring up her immune system to over-react. Not good.

    I mentioned the allergy tests (skinprick) I had done which showed an allergy to tomatoes, yet I could eat tomatoes without problem. That is where we can get confused - my reaction was to tomato plants, plus it was tomato season and I was picking my own home-grown tomatoes each day to eat. This meant that at that time, my system was sensitised to contact with tomato plants. They were testing skin, and it was skin that was reacting. But digestive tract can be different.

    Firstangel, you really need an expert to help you get this right. A dietician specialising in food sensitivities is the best person if you can find one. Failing that - I'm not sure where in Italy you are, but the very first things to remove from his diet are the artificial additives. A dietician was on Aussie TV this morning saying that when you read the labels on processed foods, avoid the ones where you have trouble understanding what the ingredients are. Ingredients you can easily understand such as "oregano, garlic, onion, tomato" mean it's got FOOD in it, not chemicals. But if you can get fresh food and prepare it yourself, avoid adding anything that you didn't buy yourself from a fresh food market, then it could be a start. If you suspect cows milk, then keep that out of his diet as well (this includes eliminating yogurt, cheese, casein... you get the drift. Butter is OK, I believe but check it out).

    But there are two ways you can do this. You either go on a full Elimination Diet (also cheekily known as a "food free diet" because you can't stay on it for too long, your child WILL lose weight, it's awful) or you can try eliminating one group at a time. And it's up to you what you eliminate first - additives, or milk. Or eggs. Or yeast. Or gluten. Then you move on to salicylates, amines, glutamates - those chemicals which occur naturally in good, healthy food but which some people have problems with. Salicylate sensitivity can seem bizarre to people who want to believe that eating a healthy, home-grown natural vegetarian diet will always be good for you - nope. Not if there is a salicylate problem. Basically, anything with flavour, tends to be loaded with salicylate. That's why on the Elimination Diet, white processed sugar (which is pure sucrose) is not a problem, but honey is a no-no.

    I hope you can get some helpful information and practical medical support in your area.