A Year Without Food

by , posted on May 12th, 2010 in The Food Issue


I almost stuck my finger, covered in my neighbor’s homemade buttercream, right into my mouth.


I was frosting cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday party and I got a dab of pink fluffiness on me. It’s an unconscious gesture: you get frosting on your finger, you lick it off.

But not for me. Not anymore.

My one year-old son has extreme sensitivities to many foods. So practically since he was born, I have eliminated dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, oats and nuts from my diet so I can nurse him.

In other words, I don’t eat.

My pediatrician told me she couldn’t do it. My friends think I’m insane, or say they admire my willpower.

I don’t get it. I mean, we’d step in front of a bus for our kids. Why wouldn’t I take a year to give him the best start I can?

How can I do it? How can I NOT?

I have nothing against formula. It’s just that he’d have to go on a specialized one that hopefully doesn’t taste as bad as it smells. But I bet it does.

I’ve been through this with my first two kids and their breast milk sensitivities. I know the drill. Only with them, I couldn’t eliminate whatever it was that caused fluorescent green poop with the traces of blood. My eldest was weaned at six months and my daughter at two months.

Frankly, it sucked. I had tremendous guilt about not nursing them.

Xander is my last child. I was determined to breastfeed him. But I can’t tell you what a punch to the gut it is when – for the third time – something that’s supposed to be so perfect for your baby actually hurts him.

I’d stopped eating dairy at birth. When he showed the sensitivity symptoms at two months, I also gave up eggs, wheat and soy (I never eat nuts while pregnant or nursing,and we don’t keep any in the house due to my eldest’s peanut allergy).

The truth? Some days it really, really sucks. When I look at, say, a plate of hot-off-the-griddle pancakes, slathered with melted butter and drowning in a sea of maple syrup, I don’t think, “Wow, those look dee-lish!” Instead, I see wheat. Soy. Eggs. Dairy. It may as well be a dish of sawdust. I can’t eat it. No matter how good it smells. No matter how loud my stomach is growling.

I go to parties and nibble on carrot sticks (no ranch dressing – dairy). There are days when I literally have nothing in the house I can eat. I make the kids their chicken nuggets (wheat, dairy) or maybe their buttered pasta (dairy, wheat). The worst is when we order pizza (wheat, dairy, soy) and the whole house smells so good I have to stick my head out of the window just to breath unscented air.

I had to put away my pannini maker. It was gathering dust on the countertop.

We don’t go out to restaurants much because who wants to interrogate the waitress on how everything is prepared and then spend $15 on a plain grilled chicken breast, white rice and steamed vegetables?

I want spaghetti with a shower of parmesan cheese. Scones. Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream. Scrambled eggs with a side of buttered toast. A turkey patty WITH a bun. A simple handful of goldfish crackers.

And yes, a cupcake with buttercream frosting.

Then I look at my baby’s smile. The way, when it’s all said and done, he really only wants Mommy. I wouldn’t trade it for all the gooey grilled cheese sandwiches in the world.

But boy, do I miss them.

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6 Responses to “A Year Without Food”

  1. Andrea Says:

    May 13th, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Thanks for sharing. I found nursing to be hard enough and we didn’t have those issues! More power to you!


  2. Cheryl Says:

    May 13th, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Thanks, Andrea!


  3. joya Says:

    May 13th, 2010 at 1:18 am

    reading this cheryl is like deja vu of me 4 yrs ago. i swear i would never meet anyone else that went through a similar year of not eating and nursing! AND i remember the exact same thing of making a birthday cake and almost licking the icing off my finger!! 13 long months for me… and you!


  4. Cheryl Says:

    May 13th, 2010 at 2:39 am

    Joya – We’re over 14 now, can you believe it? The end is near. I’m WAY too grumpy when I’m hungry!


  5. Marit Says:

    May 13th, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    What a gift you gave to your boy!


  6. Cheryl Says:

    May 13th, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Thanks, Marit!


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