One small step… one giant leap (our life with FPIES)

This blog post has been a long time coming but I feel like now is the right time because it is a positive story rather than a negative one about our life with Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES). I have briefly written about our youngest daughter Indie’s, rare food intolerance before but to give you a very brief background, Indie has acute reactions to certain (unknown) foods and the acute reaction symptoms are profuse and prolonged (usually 2 hours) vomiting until she goes into shock (pale, clammy, unresponsive, high heart rate, low blood pressure, dehydration). It is scary and we have ended up in the Emergency Department 4 times, where unfortunately they have not even know what FPIES is. There is no cure, there is no testing and there is nothing you can do once a reaction begins (except get to hospital, fluids and monitor). The symptoms are never instant, for us they have always been exactly 3 hours after ingestion of a trigger food and it has never been on first exposure of that food (it has always been on day 3-4 of eating the trigger food). All of these things make it very difficult to know what she will react to. FPIES is a non-IgE food allergy, which unlike classic food allergies, cannot be diagnosed with readily available food allergy tests such as skin prick tests.

We were extremely fortunate to get an early diagnosis because our Paediatrician was familiar with FPIES and had previously diagnosed it in other children. For this, I am so thankful as there is a huge number of undiagnosed cases as it is so rare and often gets mistaken for other gastrointestinal illnesses or ‘just a virus’.  So, we now have to test every single food that she eats until we know it is a ‘pass’ or a safe food. Indie is about to turn two in June and she has passed lots of new foods, which we are so grateful for because there are a lot of children with FPIES that have absolutely NO safe foods and they are fed through a nasogastric tube. A typical new food test for us involves choosing a food which we believe has many nutritional benefits because we want her diet as broad and healthy as it can be. We test it over 5 days, starting with only 1 teaspoon and then increasing to 2 teaspoons on day 2 etc. If she has not had a reaction by day 5, we take a 2 day break from this food and then reintroduce it again on day 7. We do this because a reaction can occur after you let the gut rest from the new food and then reintroduce it. It is only at that point that we consider it to be a truly safe food.

Her major trigger foods that we know of so far are: Sweet Potato, Avocado, Dairy, Egg and Rice

Up until this point, Indie had never eaten anything processed or packaged. We buy fresh single ingredient foods (vegetables, fruit, fish, beef, quinoa) and cook everything for her. We usually do a big weekly cook up and freeze her food into little portions. For the first 14 months of her life, her diet was very limited and it was hard to fill her because her food was predominantly fruit and vegetables and her diet lacked ‘stodgy’ food. She has a fantastic appetite and loves all food that she eats, I just wish we could introduce a whole heap of new foods at once instead of the constant trialling period. She is a healthy, active, happy, funny and typical 2 year old she just takes longer to fill her diet with the same foods as everyone else.

The best news so far on our journey is that in the last few weeks (at almost 2 years of age and being extremely interested in food and what everyone else is eating) we decided to bravely let Indie trial ‘Weet-Bix’. This was to be her first multiple ingredient, packaged food and to be honest we were all really excited. Seems like such a small thing…..

The hardest part is actually allowing her only 1 teaspoon of the new food when she loves it and wants more. Imagine how mean we feel when we give her a tiny taste and then say “you can’t have anymore until tomorrow…..”! However, she has quickly progressed to having one and a half Weet-Bix every morning for breakfast (with coconut milk) and she absolutely loves it and would eat more if we let her. I can’t believe that something so common and ‘normal’ for so many kids, is a huge step for us and it opens up lots of opportunities for new and exciting foods.

weetbixindie

I am so passionate about raising awareness about this rare condition and I am constantly researching and talking to as many people as I can about it. If you want more information about FPIES you can head to the FPIES Website here . If you have a story to share about FPIES, I would love to hear form you. We have never actually met anyone else with an FPIES kid so it would be great to connect with others.

Thanks for taking the time to read about our journey so far. It is an ongoing journey but we are a constantly moving forward and we are well aware that we have a much more mild case than lots of other amazing FPIES families out there!! xx

FPIES logo

fit-mum-logo-final-01

 

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Final wrap up of Cassie’s 8 week program – Determination, strength and long term changes

This is, sadly, the last blog post to wrap up the final session and results of Cassie’s journey, our 8 week Summer Body Program winner . Cassie not only completed the 8 weeks, she totally smashed it and always did whatever was asked of her and more. Over the 8 weeks Cassie learnt a lot about fitness, nutrition and lifestyle but she mainly learnt about her personal strength and how much she is capable of achieving. She freely and openly admits that when she found out she won, she actually wasn’t sure if she wanted to even start. Cassie has battled with anxiety and depression and she has realised how important it is to listen to your body and your mind and how important mental health and wellbeing is, as well as physical fitness.

cassie week 8 exercise

During the 8 weeks, I gave Cassie a new program every Sunday night for the following week. These were hard programs and she even said once that she actually thought I was trying to kill her. The reason for this is so she would see progression each week and learn to push herself out of her comfort zone to complete all of the workouts. She only had 1 scheduled rest day each week and she had a double session on a Monday (morning and afternoon). We also worked on her nutrition and I went through a 3 day food diary with her to analyse what she was eating and drinking in a typical day. We discussed her diet and made a few changes including increasing how much she was eating for breakfast and the importance of healthy snacks during the day. I actually told Cassie she could increase the amount she was eating during the day. We also minimised the amount of added sugar (mainly to tea and coffee). These were simple changes that she could make and it fit in with her busy lifestyle (she is a working mum of 4 young children). Cassie’s entire family were so supportive of her new lifestyle changes and her husband and kids were encouraging her during her exercise and also enjoying the new food they were eating.

I met with Cassie 3 times during the program for training sessions. We  discussed how she was finding the exercise sessions, whether she was on track with her healthy eating and most importantly how she was feeling, physically and mentally. The most important lesson to come from our 8 week training program is that in a short timeframe such as 8 weeks, it is not only about weight loss and numbers on the scales. Cassie is the perfect example of how much balance exercise and fitness can bring to your life. She felt stronger and more positive after working out and even on the days she might have not been feeling great she still pushed herself to do her workouts and she always felt better afterwards. When you do something that makes you feel better mentally, it carries over into all areas of your life and Cassie also felt like a better wife and mother. The mental benefits are huge. What an awesome role model for her children! Our children are always watching what we are doing.

cassie and son

Another awesome example of Cassie really pushing herself out of her comfort zone and proving once again how strong she is and how far she has come, was when she joined our FitM.U.M Mount Lofty Walking Group one weekend. For those that aren’t aware, Mount Lofty is a steep and fairly long hike up a mountain in Adelaide… it is definitely tough! I was so pleased that Cassie came and she never once gave up even when her mind might have been telling her to stop or when panic may have set in. Her husband came with her to support her and she overcome a massive mental barrier that day and should be very proud of her efforts.

Towards the end of our program Cassie and I had a very honest discussion about the medication she is on for her anxiety and that it makes weight loss very difficult but that it was important that she remain on it to feel her best and not impact on her life. This program was about a complete change of lifestyle and it simply can not be all about one area only. To be successful and make any form of long term changes , it needed to be manageable and maintainable and that is exactly what we did. Cassie lost 2kg and at least 1-2cms from her waist, hips, arms and legs. But best of all she feels so much better and is managing her anxiety and depression and she has shown herself how much strength she has and that she can do anything!

Enough from me, let’s hear from Cassie now that she has finished the program….

Well my 8 week challenge has come to an end. I have learnt so much from Kelly and also about myself over the past 8 weeks.

At the beginning I wasn’t sure if I would make it to the end. I was at a pretty low point mentally and not sure if I was up for the challenge. BUT I did it!

I feel so proud to say I have done almost every workout Kelly has given me.

However, I haven’t lost much weight, only 2kg. And this has been so hard to come to terms with, when I’ve been working my butt off. I haven’t lost any weight due to my depression and anxiety medication and I probably won’t lose much while I’m still on it.

But I have gained so much physically and definitely mentally. I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone too many times to count. I never thought I was this strong, not just physically (don’t get me wrong I did 100 push-ups today when I couldn’t even do one in the beginning), mentally I am so much stronger now than when I began. My depression has decreased and I have the motivation and determination to continue pushing myself.

Just because my 8 week challenge is finished, I’m not finished with exercising. I’ve changed my lifestyle now and Yes I still have my low days but the benefits of the new lifestyle are definitely worth the effort.

Thanks for following my journey and all of the support you have all given me along the way. Xx

cassie and kel

Cassie was such a deserving winner and I am so grateful that I met her and could help her to incorporate exercise and diet changes into her life. She is an amazingly strong woman and a fantastic wife and mother. Never underestimate yourself Cass, you are a champion who should be very proud of what you achieved over the 8 weeks and how much you have changed! I am proud of you and feel as if I made a friend in the process! Keep up the great work FitMumma!!  xx

Healthy Banana Oat Muesli Bars

This is our go-to, easy and delicious muesli bar recipe, which is great for healthy snacks, lunch boxes and even for a yummy evening treat with a cup of tea.

They are perfect for using up any bananas that are a bit too ripe. You can add anything you like really. We like ours packed with fruit, nuts and seeds so that’s how we came up with this recipe, but you can adjust quantities to your taste.

healthy muesli bar 1

Ingredients

3-4 ripe bananas

2 1/2  cups of traditional rolled oats

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup finely chopped dried dates

1/4 cup diced dried apricots

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped

2-3 TBS pepitas

2 TBS chia seeds

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

3 TBS Rice Malt Syrup (optional) or you could use natural honey or maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 160-180 degrees. Grease a square slice tin and line with baking paper.
  2. Mash bananas until smooth. Add all other ingredients (ensure your almonds, dates, apricots are finely chopped). Stir well and mix until well combined. Spoon into prepared slice pan and use back of spoon to press down firmly in pan (this ensure it slices well once cooked).
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. Allow slice to cool before cutting into small bars (sometimes we can’t wait that long and slice it anyway as we like our first piece still warm hehe). Serve.
  4. Store in airtight container in the fridge.

healthy muesli bar

Enjoy xx

Food, Food, Food…..FitM.U.M’s day on a plate & easy nutritional changes

Quote - Julia Child Source - Pinterest

Quote – Julia Child
Source – Pinterest

I love food! There is not much I don’t eat and I have never been fussy. I have found that since getting back into full swing with my fitness journey and wanting to be healthier, I have really had to watch my portion sizes. I am naturally quite a big eater and I am definitely a big snacker, I always have been!

I get a few questions about what I eat in a typical day so I thought I would elaborate and go through what my day often looks like foodwise. Firstly, it is important to know that I do a allow myself cheat meals every now and then and we do enjoy socialising etc (although I haven’t drank a drop of alcohol in over 15 months). If i feel like eating something I will (in moderation) as I believe that total elimination of foods you enjoy can lead to binge eating or emotional eating. However, I love healthy, fresh food and 90% of the time I make healthy choices! This is a lifestyle and not a fad or unrealistic ‘diet’. I don’t do diets, they are too hard to stick too and if I restrict certain foods I end up resenting it and then sneakily eating it anyway…. what’s the point?!

I have previously written a post about cutting all dairy out of my diet while I am breastfeeding my daughter as she has a cow’s milk protein allergy. You can read more about that topic here. I was a bit of a chocoholic (during and straight after my pregnancy) so as you can imagine this was quite devastating to have to give up chocolate cold turkey once I found out about her allergy. Thank God for Cacao, that’s all I can say! And now that it has been over 5 months without chocolate, I actually don’t miss it.

Quite a while ago I also cut out all soft drink and regular tea and coffee (I drink water throughout the day and green tea and peppermint tea).  I also don’t have any added refined sugar in anything. These are just some minor changes I have made in the last year and they have definitely helped with weight loss after my second pregnancy but more importantly it has given me a huge boost in energy. Even though I am getting quite a bit less sleep than a year ago, I feel so much more energetic throughout the day, I am much less moody, my skin is better and I do not get bloated or stomach aches. In general, I feel the best I have ever felt.

So, what does FitM.U.M’s typical day look like when it comes to food? I’m glad you asked……

Call me a creature of habit but I pretty much have the same breakfast every single morning and I LOVE IT! My only variation to this is perhaps once or twice per week instead of cooked oats, I make overnight oats and eat them cold (delicious).

Overnight Oats with berries and coconut

Overnight Oats with berries and coconut

7.00am – Breakfast Oats & a cup of green tea with lemon

1/2 cup of traditional rolled oats with oat milk (alternatively almond or rice milk)

Once cooked, I sprinkle with chia seeds and diced apricots and then top with either blueberries or a sliced banana (or sometimes both if I have done a morning workout). Drizzle of honey (optional).

Oats for Breakfast

Oats for Breakfast

10am – Snack is usually a green apple and banana (if I didn’t have one on my oats) or a handful of berries or nuts

berries

1pm – Lunch & a cup of green tea

Chia mountain bread wrap with lean turkey, ham or tuna and mixed salad fillings eg. lettuce, baby spinach, grated carrot, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and ALWAYS avocado!

3pm – Afternoon Snack of any of the following options:

  • Homemade trail mix which includes raw almonds, cashews, cranberries, diced apricots, dates, pepitas
  • Tuckers Natural Multifibre snacks, Tiny Dippers or Quinoa Snack Bites (http://www.tuckersnatural.com.au/). These are also so easy if I am out and about and I take them in my bag so I am never without a healthy snack
Tuckers Natural Tiny Dippers with Tomato Salsa

Tuckers Natural Tiny Dippers with Tomato Salsa

Such a delicious, quick and healthy snack!

Such a delicious, quick and healthy snack!

Half Choc & Nut Bliss balls and Half Apricot Bliss Balls

Half Choc & Nut Bliss balls and Half Apricot Bliss Balls

  • Smoothie incorporating a mix of greens (ie. spinach and kale) and fruit (ie. banana, berries, kiwi fruit) and chia seeds and walnuts

berry smoothie

  • Hummus with carrot sticks

hommus

6.30pm – Dinner. We tend to rotate between a few of our staples:

  • Grilled Chicken or Steak and at least 3 green vegetables (eg. asparagus, brocollini, snow peas, beans) and a small serve of quinoa
  • Stir-fry using quinoa instead of rice or noodles. Lots of Veg.
  • We sometimes do our own schnitzels using almond meal as the crumb
  • Tacos and quite often I will have mine in an iceberg lettuce cup rather than the shell (I load up on the salad and homemade guacomole)
  • Homemade pizzas

healthy pizza before

We don’t have dessert as an every night kind of thing but if I feel the need for something extra or something sweet at night (maybe twice a week) I enjoy:

  • Frozen banana ‘ice-cream’ or berry sorbet in the magic bullet
  • A bliss ball (see above snacks)
  • Choc-coco muggin (muffin in a mug). Recipe here
Choc-coco muggin. Souce - I Quit Sugar

Choc-coco muggin. Souce – I Quit Sugar

  • Choc-nut granola. Recipe here. Irondad likes his on top of greek yoghurt or straight out of the container(!!). I like mine sprinkled over my frozen banana ‘ice-cream’
Banana 'icecream' with choc nut granola

Banana ‘icecream’ with choc nut granola

I drink 3 litres of water throughout the day and I always end my night with a cup of peppermint tea. I find it helps me wind down and soothe my tummy at the end of the day.

So that is basically my day on a plate! Hope you have found it useful or interesting. Feel free to ask any questions or leave a comment here or on FitM.U.M’s Facebook page.

Quote - Greatist Source - Pinterest

Quote – Greatist
Source – Pinterest

Enjoy FitMummys xx