18th July. I posted the blog below about ten days ago and there has been a constant flow of comments and suggestions both via the blog, Facebook and Twitter, including one from Cheryl, the mum concerned (see below) detailing all the foods to which her daughter reacts.
Recent suggestions have included Natasha Campbell McBride’s GAPS approach and testing for Lyme disease, heavy metals and parasitic infections. I really appreciate all the input – and please keep it coming. Even if none of your suggestions prove to be answer they are at least poviding Cheryl and her family with some much needed psychological support.
July 6th. We got a call yesterday – the kind of call that we receive, sadly, all too often – from a lady whose young daughter was currently on a wheat and rice-free diet while her doctors try to work out how many other foods she might be reacting to. Her mother was desperate to find an ordinary white bread that her daughter would eat that did not contain either of her major allergens. (‘Mum, that’s awful – you can’t expect me to eat that!!!’) But, as anyone who is wheat and corn allergic/intolerant will know only too well, this is almost impossible to find as the two main replacement flours for wheat, barley and rye, in all foods designed for coeliacs and wheat intolerants, are corn/maize flour and rice flour.
I did a quick search through our directories but, even the most specialist bakers who cover the most unlikely diets (such as Artisan Bread or Celia’s Kitchen) all use rice flour. I thought I had struck lucky when I looked at the ingredients for the new Genius croissants that we were just about to taste (review up on FreeFromFoodsMatter very soon) but then, right at the bottom of the list, the very last ingredient, was rice flour. Now what on earth would be using such a tiny amount of rice flour for……
I had asked whether she was prepared to bake – which she was – so I had immediately thought of Jacquie Broadway’s great corn-free amaranth bread – but that depends on ground almonds for its texture and the child is also nut allergic. We did have a recipe for a banana based bread which was OK as far as ingredients were concerned and which tastes quick cakey so might be acceptable– but, if anyone has a great recipe for a wheat, rice and nut free white bread, please let us know!
I always feel dreadfully inadequate when we get these kinds of calls. We have been in this business for so long that we really should have all the answers – but we never do. However, I have come to realise, over the years, that it is not always just the answers that people need. Almost more important sometimes is a friendly soul on the other end of the phone, who is prepared to give the time to their problems, does not dismiss them as hypochondriacs or weirdos and assures them that they are not unique and that there are other people out there with similar problems. Even if they do not learn anything very useful, the conversation seems to recharge their batteries and give them the energy to battle on.
I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when we got an email from a lady asking for one for the ‘foreign’ allergy ingredients lists we used to do in French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Greek and even Russian! These days you can find all of this sort of stuff on the web so ours have long been abandoned. She was going to Greece and could not find the one we had sent her years ago. I was away when her request arrived so I emailed back apologising that I had not been able to pick up on her request in time and hoping that, even without it, they had had a good time – and got this very lovely email in return:
Thank you for replying – as always, so kind. Yes we survived but still can’t find the list.
Talking of surviving. Just wanted to say that in the early days when my daughter came down with some sort of strange viral illness that appeared to result in multiple food intolerance and the doctors implied that perhaps she was faking it, (Is she being bullied at school?), in the days when “intolerance” was a made up word used by cranks – you, and your publication, represented a liferaft in an otherwise hostile storm. We clung to any piece of information, trying to work out what to do and what not to do, trying to work out what was good advice and what was not, continually getting it wrong and trying again. Without your help, it would have taken so much longer to get back on track. Indeed it was so good to find someone who believed we were telling the truth!
Now my daughter has left home and taken her problems with her, studying Nutrition and Public Health at university, managing her diet well and is usually fairly fit.
I’m certain that the work you did paved the way for intolerances now being taken so much more seriously by the medical profession. I know that others in a similar situation today, though still having an awful time, would at least be treated better than my little girl was.So just wanted to say a big THANK YOU Michelle!!!!
Well, I am not sure that we had many answers for this lady then either, but at least we seem to have provided her that bit of support so crucial to ‘getting there yourself in the end’…..
And thinking of making a difference to people’s lives, Micki Rose’s Barrier Plan diet seems to be genuinely transforming the lives of those who are working through it – not least of which is her own. See my next blog – post coffee break….