I did an ED when DD was about a month old b/c of her "colic" (which we then learned was reflux) but gave up too soon... did not know how long it can take dairy to clear your system. Also everyone was telling me it probably wasn't anything I was eating, and I wanted to believe them. But if your babe has reflux symptoms I think the odds are about 50% that it is being caused by a dairy allergy/sensitivity. My DD had both reflux and allergic colitis (spinach or pesto poop).
When she was 2.5 months I tried again, this time for real. There is no history of any kind of food allergy in either my or DH's families, so I just basically cut out the big 8 allergens and also all reflux-triggers (citrus, berries, chocolate, caffeine, tomato, etc, basically acidic foods, and spices). I think I started with turkey, lamb, rice, zucchini, carrot, spinach, chard, olive oil, herbal tea, coconut milk, and avocado. I very slowly added in foods. She was starting solids (6 months) so this meant that once every two weeks, either she or I could start a new food. Allergist said to introduce only every 1-2 wks and I was being *very* conservative. I still wasn't feeling like I had a baseline. Reflux still an issue, very "needy", horrible sleeper, very sensitive, etc. I kind of gave up getting a good baseline and just kept adding things, increasing to every week, because I needed the variety for my morale.
A few things were challenging for me:
1) Her reflux symptoms got better and her poop finally did look more normal (she felt slightly better at 4.5 months but still had significant reflux and poops didn't really look normal until about 6 months of age) but she never really was healthy enough for me to feel like I had a good baseline. So I felt really uncertain about adding foods back in without having a baseline, but decided to go ahead since we needed the nutrition, and figuring I would look to see if she got worse. This was super tricky with teething, etc. and I stressed out a lot about what I was eating. Not fun.
2) What the heck do you eat? I had to give up on the idea of what I thought a normal meal was. Ground turkey and zucchini for breakfast? Yum! This was hard because of the emotional/ritual/social aspect of food. You have to swtich gears - food is now just fuel. It is practical. DH and I did not cook and eat together anymore. He was semi-supportive but also kind of annoyed by the whole thing. Thought it was a control issue for me (was it?). This was isolating.
3) Similar to above, difficult at social events. Brought my own food and tried to keep explainations simple. I felt judged, again, as being either controlling or neurotic. You have to believe in what you are doing. They don't know what it's like for your babe.
4) My own symptoms came hugely into play. With the ED I was eating a LOT of rice products. I drank a container of rice milk a day, and LOTS of rice bread, and LOTS of cake made with rice flour. I figured it was good to have things I liked to keep up the morale. And this probably would have been fine if I didn't develop hypoglycemic symptoms! Looking back, I can see I have had mild hypoglycemia all my life and had some "red flags" during pregnancy (unquenchable thirst - my doc said I was overhydrating - peeing every hour). While on the ED I started to have heart palpitations, shortness of breath, severe headaches, irritability and **RAGE**, weakness, dizzyness, nausea, severe thirst/cottonmouth. (All testing for gest. diabetes and diabetes after her birth came back normal.) I also learned we had a candida problem. So I tried to cut out sugar, fruits were a problem for awhile, tried low glycemic grains. This compounded the "what do you eat" problem and was very very difficult (understatement!!!). It was confusing -- is this food a problem for me? a problem for DD? is it a problem for DD because it is a problem for me (ie my irritability causing her to be more anxious/wake more)? Her obvious physical reactions to foods were mild mostly, after taking out the dairy. Just mild excema. But she did get bad rashes from shrimp, garbanzo bean, and egg (all from my diet). But mostly we were looking at behavior and sleep patterns. It felt like nothing made a difference.
By the time she was 13 months I decided to try dairy again. She seemed fine with it in my diet for 3 weeks, then I tried to give it to her directly. Gulped it down at first but then refused. Started noticing arching, cramping, night waking so stopped all dairy.
Then I started her on some bread and she loved it. Said "bread, bread, bread" all the time and went ballistic if she saw some and didn't get any. We got a bread maker and started making our own. I was using some barley flour and some wheat flour, so adding extra gluten to make up for what the barley flour didn't have. Then I started noticing headaches, thirst, fatigue, depression, so stopped all gluten for both of us. This seemed to help her sleep and made me feel tons better. She does not go psycho around bread anymore.
Now that I know more and look back, I think gluten was an issue (at least for me) from the beginning because I was craving and would binge on breads, cakes, muffins. (Normally my craving is dairy, but I was surprised I didn't really crave it as much as I thought I would.) And dairy was and still is obviously an issue, too. This was what an ND told me in the beginning, (most likely culprits are dairy and gluten) but I felt like I had to go through the whole ED thing. I didn't want to believe it about gluten, because that cuts out so many foods. Partly due to normal development and partly due to being off diary and gluten, DD is starting to sleep better now. We are weaning her off her reflux meds as well and she is doing OK so far (knock on wood).
1) Get on a good, I mean **GOOD** multivitamin. I was taking one from the drugstore and when I switched to the one I got from my ND, my heart palpitations and shortness of breath went away.
2) Know your own situation and don't eliminate more than you most likely have to. Get guidance. Looking back it is obvious to me that ours is a classic "leaky gut" story so taking out the Big 8 plus doing all the heal your gut things would have been the best course for us. I went too far, and too long, keeping things out of my diet, because I didn't really know what to do.
3) Get on a good probiotic, both of you. DD's GI specialist likes VSL (but it's by prescription only).
4) Reach out to others in forums like this. They are the only people who are going to understand you and know what you're going through, and not tell you that you are crazy.
5) As soon as you can, add in onions, garlic, celery, carrot, thyme, oregano, sage, etc. This opens up a lot of recipes. (Plus onion, oregano, and garlic are antifungals if you are fighting candida.) I ate a TON of avocados, and also am sooooooo thankful for a product called Coconut Bliss, the best ice cream substitute I have found. Bake special treats for yourself and freeze them in individual portion sizes so you have something to grab. Keep chopped veggies in tupperwares in the fridge. If you have support, ask someone to do this for you. I found it hard to feed myself well during the day with a high needs baby and would often not eat well until I could get her down to sleep, which *REALLY* wore me down and made me more overwhelmed/depressed. I know it was stupid to jeopardize my health so much by restricting my diet but I was desperate to make my DD feel better.
This has been hands down the hardest thing I've ever done. I would never have radically altered my diet like this if not for DD. This whole experience (with a high needs babe) has almost torn my marriage apart. But now, in fact, we are stronger than before. And going through this has uncovered some of my own mystery health issues. I have found that off dairy, gluten, and sugar, many physical and emotional ailments have gone away. I used to just want to hide under the covers - I thought that was just my personality - but now I feel more energetic, more vital. I am off antidepressants. How would I have otherwise found this out? I probably would not have. I have learned SO MUCH about food, health, alternative medicine, parenting, my own strength. Like others have said, this is not only a quest for better health but a spiritual journey as well. I am the better for it. Do I still want the cookie? Heck ya!!!! But I don't crave it, I am OK now without it.
Good luck and blessings to you.