Battle of the ‘Sensies’ – The Rotation Diet

Perhaps the most confounding problem surrounding extreme food/chemical sensitivities is that the very nutrient rich whole foods intended to heal – can make us incredibly ill!  My daughter is a ‘Sensie’.  Her food and chemical sensitivities are extensive, too many to count or track.  My husband jokes that she’s allergic to carbon, and perhaps they don’t make ‘this stuff’ on her planet.  (Incidentally, only the parents of sick kids are allowed to crack jokes on the topic.)

Ultimately we’ve had to remove all detergents, lotions, soaps, oils, even certain fabrics and we use only the mildest forms of soaps on necessary things like her dishes, the carpet, etc.  When it comes to food, that is an entirely separate epic battle.  I finally came to conclusion that it was not a matter of IF she reacted to a food, but WHEN.  I had heard the term ‘Rotation Diet’ before and never gave it much thought until it occurred to me that we had been able to successfully trial foods on her for a day, sometimes even up to a week before they generated a reaction.  So what if I fed her the same thing for only 24 hours, switched the menu, and then did not feed her those items again for a couple days?  Nothing else was working, so why not give it a shot?

spinIn a nutshell, this is how a rotation diet works:  All foods are placed into various categories and you only eat foods from a particular set of categories for a select period of time (usually 24 hours).  Then you select foods from a different set of categories for the following 24 hours, and so on.  Eventually you circle around and repeat the cycle, usually every 4-8 days.  I decided I had enough variety to cover 4 days worth of different category meals, and make them healthy and balanced.  I have to say it was quite liberating building her Rotation Menu.  Never before had I been able to select foods without hyper-analyzing their food chemical or allergen content potential, only to typically dismiss them as an option.  Instead, I was actually able to consider the health benefits and variety – it was fantastic!

It’s been 1-2 months now on the new rotation diet consisting of purees, meat/vegetable broths, and oils.  I’ve had to tweak the menu a bit to suit her tastes, but so far things are going really well.  It certainly has not been an overnight change, but there are consistent subtle improvements.  Her appetite has been fantastic (eating has been an issue for us in the past), her bowel movements have become normal and healthy, and her moods and sleeping are improved, too.  I’ve even been able to start using shea butter as a lotion on her!  After receiving the thumbs up from both her integrative MD and ND on my food choices, I thought I would share the menu in the chance it is helpful to other Sensies out there, and those of you with Sensie little ones.

There are a few basic guidelines I kept in mind when selecting her menu:

  • No gluten, legumes (including soy), or dairy (except camel’s milk).  Whoa, wait…did I just read ‘camels milk’?  Weird I know, but it’s different in some very significant ways from cow’s and goat’s dairy, and you can read more on that topic here.
  • Low Glutamates and low Histamine – That means I stuck with 2-4 hour meat stocks rather than bone broths (more on that here).  Everything is made fresh (when possible), then frozen immediately, and consumed within 8 days (2 rotations).
  • A healthy balance of Omega 3/6/9 – Fats are so critical! 1  Generally, Americans get way too much Omega 6 (vegetable fats) and not enough Omega 3. 2  Everyone is different, but a good rule of thumb is a 4 to 1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats.  (Western diets typically consume a ratio of 16 to 1 – Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats!)  If you’re vegan/vegetarian or feed your child a vegan/vegetarian diet, please keep this ratio in mind and seek out appropriate and sufficient sources of Omega 3 fats.  (Check out this informative video for more facts on scientists’ recent erroneous vilification of saturated fats.  Incidentally, it is my personal opinion that the adjustment of Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio accounts for the immediate improvement many people experience when initially adopting a Paleo diet.)
  • Low oxidative stress (high in antioxidants)
  • Alkaline
  • I did not introduce food items to which she had previously demonstrated an acute/immediate reaction (such as spinach and corn).
Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4
Carrot/Celery & Banana PureeChard & Pear & Avocado PureeSquash/Zucchini & Peaches/Cherry PureeKale/Broccoli/Collard Greens & Sweet Potato & Wild Blueberry/Strawberry Puree
Carrot/Celery JuiceChard BrothSquash/Zucchini BrothKale/Broccoli/Collard Greens/Sweet Potato Broth
Bison BrothLamb BrothTurkey Broth (replaced chicken following lab results indicating low Tryptophan)Camel's Milk
Hemp Seed OilOlive OilFish Oil (Carlsons)Sunflower Oil

I also have plans to introduce crackers from the Anti-Grain apple, squash, and sweet potato flours, because they conveniently fit in 3 different food categories.

Some tips on preparation:

  • All produce gets a thorough washing in an ACV and water bath.  I also use this opportunity to inspect the produce and remove any ‘unhealthy’ looking parts.
  • Purees – Gently cook produce at 250 degrees with just a wee bit of water, for as long as it takes to get slightly soft.  Remember ‘low and slow’, when it comes to cooking to ensure we preserve as many of the delicate enzymes and nutrients as possible.  Be sure to include the liquid left behind from baking in your puree because it’s packed full of nutrients!  Many of the fruits can be blended as-is and don’t require any cooking.
  • Whenever possible I juice the produce rather than preparing a broth, for a much more nutrient rich option.
  • Removing the skin/seeds and ensuring adequate ripeness will reduce the phenol (food chemical) content of the produce.
  • Try to stick with organic/non-GMO produce and organic/grass-fed meat and dairy products whenever possible.  Check out your local farmers market for regional options which can be more budget-friendly than the natural grocery stores.
  • Wild blueberries are higher in antioxidants than farmed blueberries.

My preferred tools for the job(s):

  • Food Categories Guide
  • Nutri Ninja – I love this for the purees.  Its quick, powerful, and very easy to clean!  I also use it to make my own smoothies.  I do not believe the containers are BPA free so be sure the contents have cooled to room temperature or colder before you blend.  Another tip is to slowly add the liquid in between mixing, this will help break up the fibers and also ensure you don’t get a puree that’s too watered down.
  • Breville Juicer – I don’t have a lot of experience with juicers, but wanted something that was BPA free and did not heat the juice in any way.  My only complaint is that this thing is a pain to clean.
  • Pyrex Cookware – It’s glass and made in the USA.

4 thoughts on “Battle of the ‘Sensies’ – The Rotation Diet

  1. Tracy S

    I think if I were dealing with an older child, I would take more of a bottom-up approach. Try visiting a grocery store and perusing the whole foods sections (produce, meat, bulk, dairy, etc.) and jot down everything you know he will eat and does not react immediately. I’ve done this in the past to get ideas for more exotic produce options that I’m unfamiliar with, just to give me more variety. Take the list, and break the items up into their food categories. Then, see if you can put together a couple different meals consisting of all different categories. I would try to keep the ingredients as few as possible; think meat, vegetable, starch/grain, oil, salt, pepper, and maybe 1-2 other spices. Ideally something that works well as leftovers because you could conceivably start your ‘new’ 24 hour cycle at dinner time, so one meal is dinner and then carried over as leftover lunch. There are tons of Paleo and autoimmune sites out there with fantastic recipe ideas, which you can tweak as necessary.

    Another thought that comes to mind is low dose allergen therapies. I don’t have any personal experience, but I’ve met a number of mom’s who had great experience with the treatment for their children’s food allergies. And my husband takes a serum for severe environmental allergies. I believe the ND we see for my daughter uses the technique. He’s got this room full of 1000’s of tiny bottles. My understanding is that he has the allergen solutions at varying strengths and slowly increases the dosage until the reaction is neutral. I believe practitioners typically use an enzyme of some sort as an adjuvant, but it may vary from one practitioner to another.

    Good luck! 🙂

  2. Kerstin

    It seems that your menu is designed more for a toddler aged child. How would you modify this for, say, a very active 11 year old boy. We’ve just discovered a slew of allergies or intolerances and am really struggling to feed him.

  3. Jude

    This is really helpful post, and I am so glad you are having luck with the rotation diet. I have a question about food categories – do you rotate/categorize with vegetable families in mind i.e. broccoli and cauliflower etc? Thanks

Comments are closed.