change your diet, skip surgery

Part of my journey into vegan and gluten-free cooking was when Jacob was about a year old. He constantly had a stuffy nose and was always breathing through his mouth. I thought a lot of kids were just mouth breathers, so I didn’t think much of it. Then one winter, he had pneumonia twice, and a series of coughs and that would last for a month. His tonsils were constantly red and swollen; I was amazed he was able to swallow his food.

Jacob’s pediatrician at the time referred him to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist who recommended removing his tonsils and adenoids, and planting tubes in his ears.

He was only two years old! I couldn’t fathom signing him up for an elective surgery. The specialist couldn’t tell me why his tonsils and were enlarged and wasn’t at all interested in investigating why. His hearing was checked to make sure it hadn’t been damaged from sinus drainage. His hearing was fine – I knew he could hear me when I was telling him ‘no’ for the fifteenth time.

The ENT said I had two choices, put Jacob through surgery, or take a wait-and-see approach.

He said some kids grow out of it and some kids just have enlarged tonsils. I couldn’t accept this explanation.

There had to be a reason why he was constantly stuffed up without being sick. I consulted a naturopath who suggested that a food allergy could be causing his enlarged tonsils so she recommended food allergy testing. She explained the tricky part about identifying food sensitivities is that they don’t have an immediate reaction. I thought, no way he has any food allergies, he’s never had a strange reaction to any foods, and I thought he was pretty regular – 5 times a day regular.

The allergy test she recommended is called an IgG test. I had no idea this was. When I thought about allergy testing, I thought about the scratch tests where they scratch you with potential allergens and look for a visible reaction.

I learned that food allergies are a reaction to food proteins and are categorized in mainly two ways; as an immunoglobulin E (IgE)–mediated (immediate) reaction or a non–IgE-mediated (delayed) reaction. I had associated food allergies with IgE reactions, which would immediately result in itchy skin, trouble breathing, vomiting, throat swelling, or anaphylaxis.

With an IgG reaction, the reaction may take several hours to several days to present itself. Some common IgG reactions are (but not limited to) headaches, hypertension, asthma, recurrent respiratory infections, joint pain, sinus infections or weird skin rashes. Both Ryan and Talia experienced skin rashes in response to trigger foods which I’ll discuss in a later post.

Since IgG allergic reactions take hours or days after ingestion to appear this makes it very difficult to pinpoint the culprit foods.

An IgG allergy test is done by taking a blood spot from a finger prick (Jacob barely flinched). The sample was sent to a lab where it was testing against 96 of the most common eaten foods and we received the results about three weeks later. The test cost about $230, and thankfully was covered by my insurance. Even if I had to pay out of pocket though, I wholeheartedly believe it would have been a valuable investment in his health.

When healthy foods aren’t healthy for you, you need to know.

I received the results in a well-organized report, which detailed what foods caused an immune reaction and how severe that reaction was. Based on this report, the naturopath recommended removing any trigger foods for a minimum of three months, then reintroduce foods one at a time, a new one every week and watch for any of the reactions mentioned earlier within seven days. With Jacob, his reactions were typically a stuffy nose or more than normal poo.

Upon review of the report with our naturopath, Jacob tested to be highly sensitive to cow’s milk, cheese and eggs, and somewhat sensitive to soy, asparagus, oranges and cod. I immediately cut these foods out of his diet as best I could.

I noticed a change in just a few weeks – he could breathe through his nose and went from five bowel movements a day to two or three. He has also avoided antibiotics for over three years. After several months with these foods off of his plate, his tonsils were visibly smaller.

He never went back to the ENT. He still has selective hearing, but I’m pretty sure that all kids do.

I never reintroduced dairy to Jacob’s diet. Whenever he inadvertently eats dairy, he complains of a stomach ache within a few hours and spends a good portion of his day on the toilet. There are other reasons why we don’t eat dairy, which I talk about here in Got dairy-free milk?

I am so fortunate to have found a knowledgeable naturopath that helped Jacob reach his optimum health.

It frightens me to think of how many parents have, and will put their kids at risk for a surgery that can easily be avoided by changing what’s on our forks.

I am not a medical professional, and this story only depicts my personal experience. Please see a medical professional – in my opinion, preferably a naturopath to help you find your way to living your best life.

Our family’s naturopath is Dr. Michelle Peris, ND – love, love, love her! Read about her and what she has to say about being a health savvy mom here


for simple plant-based, gluten-free recipes sign up for free weekly updates below!

* indicates required

Email Format

Jacqueline Fisch is an aspiring minimalist, especially when it comes to writing. She helps people unfuss all their communications, helping them describe the indescribable by keeping it simple When she's not simplifying busy people’s words, you can find her devouring self-help books, trying not to fall over in crow pose and sitting around with a pile of notebooks, a big glass of red wine and a huge hunk of dark chocolate.

Posted in barefoot kitchen, unfussy life Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
6 comments on “change your diet, skip surgery
  1. Kathie says:

    Thank you for sharing this info.

    I found this blog very interesting because I went through something very similar. My daughter started getting ear infections almost every 2 weeks. After the 6th ear infection I took her to naturopath and she did a biomeridian food sensitivity test. I was a bit skeptical but the results indicated that she has milk, gluten, and pork sensitivity. It was a bit hard at first but we eliminated all these from her diet for 2 months, then slowly re-introduced gluten and after few more months milk. She hasn’t had an ear infection since.

    My son on the other hand has a bit of a sensitivey stomach. At one point at around 20 month he had diarrhea or very water stool for weeks. I took him to the naturopath to do the test and sure enough he has a sensitivity to fructose. Pretty much all our snacks are fruit so it was hard to eliminate that but we did and sure enough after 3 weeks I started to re-introduce fruit with the lowest fructose levels and he was fine. Few time when he does get diarrhea I just take him off fruit for few days and then he’s fine.

  2. Wow Kathie, it sounds like you had some challenging allergies to deal. I am so glad you were able to identify trigger foods for your kids and even had some success with food introduction!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Hi – Wow, this is great! Would you like to write a guest post about your story at my blog? I’ve been looking to share a story about how food allergies and sensitivities can lead to other health issues and your story would be perfect. If you’re interested, please email me:

    Thank you! I’m so happy for you that you found the answers for your son! Great job mama!

  4. Catherine says:

    Great post! wish every parents would read this.

  5. Pia says:

    Hey Im 21 and ever since I can remember Ive been having some kind of tonsilitus, viral or bacterial infection. Just like your son, when I was little my ears would immediately pain. I noticed that Ive been falling sick even more than now than I did as a child. And instantly my tonsils get BADLY pussed up (like you wouldnt believe). I think this is because of the allopathy thats been shoved down my throat. Im so sick and tired of it. I’m practically a vegetarian now and I keep cold stuff to the minimum. What do u think I should do? Its always ice or smoky environments that cause this. I want to strength my immunity.

    • Ouch! I used to have those tonsils too! For me, removing dairy cleared me up, but I’d recommend working with a good naturopath, a Registered Dietitian, or a doctor who is knowledgeable in food sensitivities and has nutritional training. Keep me posted at on how you’re doing!

7 Pings/Trackbacks for "change your diet, skip surgery"
  1. […] grateful to be able to share this message with all of you. You can read the original post here: change your diet, skip surgery. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) […]

  2. […] I would be so happy if you could help share this message with me. I wrote a post about it here  – You cal also read about my personal journey to a plant-based […]

  3. […] dairy from Jacob’s diet to help him avoid an unnecessary tonsillectomy. Read this story in Change your diet…skip surgery. Score one for the […]

  4. […] Read more about my food journey in dairy, wheat, and soy..oh my, and how eliminating dairy from Jacob’s diet helped him avoid a tonsillectomy. I am working on a post about the many benefits we enjoy since […]

  5. […] I had to completely rethink what I put on my plate (and my family’s plate) after a looming tonsillectomy and way more food allergies than I care to […]

  6. […] transition to a plant-based diet happened slowly. First went the dairy for me, then for Jacob. Then I started reading, A LOT. Then I stopped buying meat, I didn’t exactly prepare a […]

  7. […] ‘I could never live without cheese’ people frequently say to me in response to learning we don’t eat any dairy. I used to feel this way too, but you can live without cheese. Surprisingly, once it was removed from my diet I felt so much better. Funny though at the time, I never thought I felt ‘sick’. It is true you don’t know how sick you were until you feel amazing. You can read more about our journey to removing dairy on the baring it all page, and how removing dairy for Jacob helped him avoid having his tonsils removed. […]

be the un-fussiest person you know!

weekly(ish) inspiration to live the unfusssy life
* = required field