Food Intolerances

An MSPI Update: Lessons Learned Into the Preschooler Years

Thursday November 3, 2016

You wouldn’t think it, but my posts on Bean’s milk and soy protein intolerance (MSPI) and the elimination diet are some of the most popular posts on this site. This is likely because, like your’s truly, I imagine a legion of parents who just got the diagnosis, or are staring at mysterious incurable symptoms, and are Dr. Googling the hell out of it. As we all do.

Or I’ll come across parents asking about it on other websites and nod knowingly along.

What always gets me is that these are all new parents and all the answers (including my own in those early posts) focus on a baby’s symptoms or a mother’s elimination diet. As though this is a problem of infanthood.

This might be because once your kid’s intolerances have been around for a few years, you’re no longer asking questions in baby forums about it. You’re not even asking questions in preschooler forums about it. It’s a fact of life and you move on. You learn vegan recipes and what kinds of restaurants to eat at. But, there is this quiet void of parents who got the MSPI diagnosis years ago and are still living it day-to-day. The void makes it seem like this is only a problem we had with our infants.

My elimination diet is long gone. My walking-talking-school-going kid’s intolerances are not. So, to all the parents freshly researching MSPI and wondering where this might take you, these are my lessons learned three years post-diagnosis.

 
1. MSPI might go away after your kid turns one; it may also not

Our doctor repeatedly told us out most infants outgrow the intolerances around when they turn 1. Sounds good, but that stat gave us a lot of false hope unfortunately.

As I can attest, the intolerances can actually last for years later, much longer than breastfeeding or formula feeding. Around 3 and a half, our daughter finally outgrew her soy intolerance. Now at almost 4, she is still completely intolerant to cow and goat’s milk, but sheep’s milk is ok.

 

2. This isn’t your problem, but your kid’s problem

Going on the elimination diet felt like a me-problem at the time, without realizing it was going to turn into a much larger child-problem once she started eating solids (and later, entire meals).  I was so excited to finally be off the diet once and for all!! Ice cream!! Yogurt!! Cookies!! CHEESE.

But, then I’d turn around to a little person who couldn’t eat any of those things who still expected me to feed her. Ending the breastfeeding relationship didn’t turn out to be a get out of free card. I still had to prepare meals and buy food and eat out with someone who couldn’t eat dairy or soy. It was my elimination diet for 12 months, but it’s been her elimination diet for over three and a half years.

 

3. Handling the intolerance gets slightly easier once they can talk

Before, during dairy or soy trials, we’d have to guess if she was feeling crummy. Was that a tantrum? Or a reaction to the yogurt test yesterday? Are her cheeks red because it’s hot out? Or are they because of the baked muffin test we just tried. Maybe the rash is because of the pool this morning?

Now as a chatty 3 year old, she lets us know right away that her stomach is hurting or that her tummy and arms are itchy. When she finally outgrew soy, it was easy to determine that she was in fact not having a reaction because she would have told us about it.

 

4. Silver lining time: The intolerance does make for an absurdly healthy eater

Since our kid can’t eat mac n’ cheese, or anything battered (see: chicken nuggets), or pizza, or hot dogs, or most bread, or muffins, or cheeseburgers, or cookies, or pretty much anything purchased in a box at the supermarket… she has turned out to be a really healthy eater of a variety of foods. Mostly because she really doesn’t have a choice.

It’s not all great. Going out to eat at certain restaurants ensures a french fry dinner, since that’s the only thing she can eat on the menu. But, more often, we eat Indian, Thai, Mexican, or Italian which all fall in the veggie-heavy-with-sauce category of food. And she eats it because it’s the only thing she knows. MSPI can be so annoying (UNDERSTATEMENT) to deal with, but this is a pretty great silver lining, right?

 

Are there any other older parents of MSPI kids out there? What did you learn along the way?

 

 

Keep reading:

The reality of being on an elimination diet

Elimination diet comfort foods 

More elimination diet comfort foods

Eating on the road when you’re on an elimination diet

An elimination diet Thanksgiving

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