Food Allergy Food Challenge: Soy

SoyFoodChallenge

If you’ve been doing the food allergy thing for a while then you are probably very familiar with food challenges.  Perhaps you’ve even gone through some and come out on the other side with success.  For those of you who are new to the world of food allergies, a food challenge comes about when the blood test for a given allergen comes back below a certain threshold.  Once this happens, your allergist may recommend a food challenge.

What is a food challenge?

Food challenges can vary a bit depending on the allergen that’s being tested.  For example, there are basic challenges for any given allergen but there are also baked challenges for eggs and dairy.  Some children can tolerate eggs and milk when baked at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time.  Food challenges are roughly 4 hours long and performed at the allergist’s office.  For a basic (non-baked) food challenge, the family is asked to bring in a “safe” food that the nurse can use to mix in the allergen (powder form) being tested.  Most people bring in things like applesauce, pudding, yogurt, etc.  Anything that your child will eat.  Before the challenge begins, the doctor will look over your child to not only make sure that he/she is healthy but to get an idea of what your child looks like reaction-free.  This way should there be any sign of a reaction, the doctor can quickly identify it.  Once the challenge begins the nurse will bring in the allergen mixture 6 times, gradually increasing the increment of allergen that’s been added to your “safe” food.  This is done roughly every 15-minutes, taking about 90 minutes until the eating portion of the challenge is complete.  Of course the time it takes greatly varies based on how long it takes your child to eat the food that he/she has been given.  If your child consumes all of the food required to complete the challenge without any signs of a reaction then you will proceed to wait roughly another 2 hours to be sure that a delayed reaction does not occur.  Once the two hours is up then you have officially “passed” the challenge and you can add that allergen back into the diet.  YAHOO!!  This is a BIG moment for any food allergy family.  If however, your child exhibits any symptom of a reaction during the challenge then the challenge will stop.  What I’ve just described is how our allergist performs a food challenge.  You can read all about how our allergist, Dr. Frederick Leickly performs food challenges, here.  Keep in mind, other allergists may do food challenges a bit differently so always ask questions before beginning a challenge.  Now that I’ve shared with you a little about a food challenge, let me share with you about our recent food challenge.

Our Recent Soy Food Challenge…

You may have seen my Facebook status update or if you follow along via Instagram then you may have seen photos of our food challenge.  Based on the blood work that returned for my youngest following our annual food allergy testing in November, he qualified for a soy food challenge.  Just like I described above, I had to bring in “safe” food for him.  They recommended applesauce, pudding or yogurt.  However, based on his list of allergens, he can’t eat pudding or yogurt.  So I had to get a bit creative.  He loves applesauce and instant oatmeal.  So I brought in both of those.  The nurse also warned me that towards the end of the challenge they have to add in quite a bit of the soy (soy flour) and the food can get a bit clumpy and it has a flavor that isn’t exactly favored.  My biggest concern was that he’d throw up the food due to the taste and texture.  I knew that if he threw up then the challenge would end as the allergist would have a hard time knowing whether or not the vomit was induced by flavor or if it was a sign of a reaction.  So I decided to make “safe” chocolate chip cookie dough as one of the “safe” food options.  Since the nurse was going to be adding soy flour to anything I brought in I made the dough and left out 1/2 cup of flour.

We began the challenge with applesauce (2 servings of the 6) and then moved to oatmeal (2 servings of the 6) and we finished the remaining 4 servings with cookie dough. My little man had to eat each cup of the allergen mixture that the nurse brought in and then we watched him for any sign of a reaction.  Honestly, I’m so glad that I decided to bring in cookie dough because it helped mask the flavor of the soy and since I left out some of the flour, when they added in the soy flour the consistency wasn’t affected.  He ate it like a champ and kept asking when he could have more.  HA!  {Side note: both of my little men have an egg allergy so there is no risk of salmonella as eggs aren’t used in the dough}  If you are getting ready for a food challenge and trying to come up with a good “safe” food to take in, I highly recommend cookie dough.  Just be sure to check with your allergist to see if that is an okay option.  One of the bigger challenges was keeping my little men occupied and entertained during our down time.  Post coming soon about some activity recommendations for these long food allergy appointments.

SoyFoodChallengeColoring

I was a bit nervous going into this challenge as our last challenge (2 years ago) to dairy didn’t go well.  We failed it with the 3rd dose.  Although it wasn’t a life-threatening reaction it was still stressful and disappointing.  I knew that the chance of him having a reaction to soy was incredibly low as his skin test to soy was negative and his blood test to soy came back undetected.  However, once you’ve seen an anaphylactic reaction you just get nervous to feed your child anything new, let alone something that you’ve been purposefully avoiding for the past 3 years.  However, I watched him like a momma hawk.  I should have had him go shirtless because it would have prevented me from bugging him to see his tummy and back as I watched for any sign of a hive.  We made it through all 6 doses of soy with no reaction and we made it through the waiting period that followed.

It was an exciting day for us.  My little man already had a list of all of the foods that he couldn’t wait to try out.  You see my oldest doesn’t have a soy allergy and so there’s been many food items that he eats that my youngest knows he can’t have because of soy.  Some of the items on his list: Mickey Mouse crackers from Costco, PopTarts, Oreos, Ritz Crackers, Honey Grahams in the shape of Angry Birds, etc.  He was so excited he had trouble narrowing down where he was going to start.  He did have a bout of diarrhea after we got home (4 hours after the challenge) but he didn’t have a stomach ache nor did he have any other symptom.  I called the allergist to ask about it and he told me to take it easy with adding back in the soy, and to wait until his stools returned to normal before trying more soy.  The next day his stools were normal so we gave him some Mickey Mouse crackers from Costco that had soy in them.  That was all we gave him that day (that contained soy) and he was reaction free and his stools remained normal.  So at this point we are 5 days out from the challenge and we are still only giving him one new food item containing soy a day that way we can continue to monitor him.  So far, so good!  This weekend we are going to give soy milk a try!

This has been our first food challenge that we’ve passed.  It’s been an emotional week for me as I accept that he can eat soy.  Although I’m excited for him and I know that he’s passed the challenge it’s hard to let go of the “you can’t eat that…you may die” thoughts that I have had in my head for the past 3 years.  But you know it’s been incredibly rewarding and has given me hope that we could outgrow some of our other allergies in the future.

When we finished our 4 hour food challenge and the allergist came in to look my little man over one last time he congratulated us and when I asked how we should move forward with feeding him soy, he responded, “Beginning tomorrow you can feed him soy as if he never had a soy allergy.  His slate has been wiped clean.”  In that moment I was reminded about one of my favorite verses in the bible found in Isaiah.

Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.  ~Isaiah 1:18

And all I could hear was Jesus’ voice saying, “I took away his soy allergy.  He’s been washed and is white as snow.”  It’s not that his allergy to soy was a sin…because it was not.  It was just a reminder that God is bigger than these allergies and He is in control and He can heal my little men.

Have you had a food challenge?

What was your experience like?

Comments

  1. So excited for your family! xo

  2. Pam says:

    Congratulations!!! What great joy!

    And if you could help – I am looking for a compilation/list of websites that sell food allergy bracelets. Do you know of such a list? Thanks.

  3. Congratulations! What a blessing. I am sure you will be celebrating for a long time. It will feel odd too..eating what you avoided!

    Enjoy!

  4. Nicole says:

    Lauren,

    First and foremost…. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I remember you talking about your blood tests and the fact that he did not react to Soy at the meeting in December. What a way to start of 2014… being able to have Soy in your house.

    There are many days when I think others just don’t get what “we” as allergy parents go through… you describe it perfectly to a “T” they way I feel about things. The fear of dying… the mamma “hawk” it is all so real to many of us and I appreciate your descriptions! It definitely leads me back to sanity to know I am not the only one that thinks this way!!!

    Rejoicing for your family! And reading your post brought tears to my eyes… I can only imagine your familys emtional rollercoaster!!!

    Nicole

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