A Mom’s Journey with TED (Total Elimination Diet)

Posted 6.7.11 | Nutrition Specialist

Our post today is a guest blog entry from Rachel Miller, Baby E’s mom. We’d like to thank Rachel for guest blogging for us.

Never could I have imagined that adding another bouncing baby boy to our family last summer would not only add extra snuggles and smiles, but that it would also add a seemingly long and sometimes stressful journey into the world of food allergies. 

Baby E was born last August happy and healthy.  He was welcomed home by mom, dad, and his two big brothers.   Almost right away Baby E started showing signs of possible reflux.  We had been down the reflux road before since big brother 2 had reflux when he was a baby.   So when Baby E started sounding like something out of Star Wars (think Darth Vader), I mentioned to his doctor that I was concerned his nasal congestion was being caused by reflux.  So, Baby E was put on reflux medicine and it seemed to help a little bit. 

Baby E Before

Baby E Before

Then came the eczema.   Baby E was like a snake (but way cuter).  He started shedding away his soft newborn baby skin, and angry red baby acne took its place.  The doctor said it was completely normal and likely caused by hormones.  It was at this point that I started to consider the possibility that Baby E may be reacting to something in my diet.  Refluxand terrible skin?  But, I shrugged it off.

Then came the mucous-filled diapers.  I knew from having been down the breast-feeding diaper route before, mucous is an uninvited guest.  Seeds, yes.  Mucous, no.  He also had terrible tummy aches and painful gas.  He would often cry and had a hard time settling down.   Gas relief drops didn’t seem to help.

Then came the blood and green poops.  There is really no way to shrug off lime green bowel movements with streaks of visible blood throughout.  I immediately took Baby E back to the doctor where they took a stool sample and made sure Baby E didn’t have an infection.   No infection.  And so our journey began.  

 I knew I wanted to continue breastfeeding Baby E, so at the doctor’s recommendation I cut dairy out of my diet immediately.  Baby E seemed to make slow improvement after only a few days.   We then eliminated soy as well.  After almost two weeks of being dairy and soy free, Baby E had “better” diapers but not normal. 

This is where TED entered my life.   Total Elimination Diet

Unfortunately, my doctor was not able to offer much advice or information about TED, so I found most of my information from infantreflux.org and kellymom.com.  Determined to get kick mucous out of this diaper party and to continue to breast-feed my “intolerant” child, I started eating nothing but chicken, turkey, rice, potatoes, apples, and bananas.  Being on such a restrictive diet allowed me rid Baby E of mucous diapers, reflux, and his eczema.  Then I slowly added foods back into my diet and waited for a reaction. This was how I was able to determine that Baby E cannot tolerate dairy, soy, eggs, and tomatoes.  So now, I am still breastfeeding but avoiding these foods in my diet, and Baby E is doing great!   

Baby E After

Our journey is still continuing.  Since starting solid foods Baby E has had reactions to pears and infant oatmeal cereal.  In spite of this, I feel lucky and blessed that Baby E is doing so well and that I am able to continue breastfeeding him. 

-Rachel Miller

Read Comments (23)

  • 2014-02-25 | Joy

    How long did it take you to eliminate the blood in the stool after starting your TED? I have eliminated soy and dairy for 4 weeks now and eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree buts for about 3 weeks but the blood in the diaper still remains and has even seemed to get worse. I have been holding off on switching him over to formula but my husband is tired of waiting and seeing if our son will ever be a happy baby again. Our son also has reflux symptoms so we don’t know if his gas, spitting up and fussiness is because of reflux or food sensitivities.

  • 2014-02-26 | Rachel

    Hi Joy! For my son the blood in his diaper cleared up pretty quickly, within a week.  However he continued to have mucous in his stools for several weeks. Unfortunately every baby is different, and some take longer than others to heal. I would talk to your doctor, and consider changing your diet around some.  It looks like you’ve eliminated the Top 8 allergens, except for wheat? Some babies even have trouble with foods like rice, or acidic foods (like tomatoes in our case).
    And just be sure to really read food labels carefully because dairy, soy, and other allergens can show up in some surprising items, such as prepackaged foods, baked goods, and even spice packets! I know this is tough, here is some information that may help:
    Elimination Diets video: http://bit.ly/yL1gFN
    I hope that helps!

  • 2014-03-18 | Sherri

    How long have you been on TED?  My baby is slmost 3 mths old and if I stay strict on TED , she does ok (along with med for reflux, probiotics, ans formula for supplementing) . I am getting really tired of eating only 6 different things, though, and need some encourgement!  What food did you add in first?

  • 2014-03-19 | Rachel

    Hi Sherri!

    Sorry to hear you’re struggling with TED.  It’s been some time since I was on a strict TED, but from what I can remember first I added different fruits and vegetables.  And as far as the first “allergic” food I added back, that was wheat.  I stayed dairy, soy, egg and nut free for close to two years and continued to nurse my L0.

    I would just double check everything you’re eating.

    Are you supplementing with Neocate?

    Talk to your doctor, or see a nutritionist, and see if you can come up with a plan to add variety to your diet.

    I don’t know what your safe foods are, but try searching for allergy friendly recipes online, Pinterest has a good selection (http://www.pinterest.com/neocate/allergy-friendly-recipes/)
    And I found a good bread recipe in our “Allergy-Friendly Cookbook”: http://bit.ly/d9QVFL

    Hang in there!  I hope this information helps!

  • 2014-04-21 | Michelle

    Hi Rachel, I know your post is quite dated, but curious if you were able to completely get rid of baby E’s eczema.  Now that he’s older, did it ever turn to asthma or does he have any recurrances?  I’ve been on a modified elimination diet for the past 3 months, but will be starting a TED today.  I’m hoping this will solve my 6 month’s old worsening eczema.  Thanks!

  • 2014-04-28 | Rachel

    Hi Michelle!  First, let me apologize for my late response!  I hope you’re getting along okay with your total elimination diet? 

    In answer to your question, yes, I was able to rid my LO of his eczema through my diet. And actually, I was able to rid him of all symptoms, including his reflux, with my diet change.  It didn’t happen overnight however, so don’t get discouraged if you do not see immediate results. 

    Luckily for my son we did not experience any reoccurrences or asthma.  He is currently three and a half years old and can now tolerate all of the foods we eliminated, including small amounts of dairy.

    An elimination diet can be very overwhelming, and I found it easier to make a lot of my foods from scratch.  Pinterest is a great resource for allergy friend recipes, as well as the Neocate cookbook in case you need help with food ideas:



    I hope this helps and good luck in your journey!  Please let me know if we can offer any other help.

  • 2014-07-27 | Brittany

    Hi. Thank you for your post. After yet another sleepless night (posting this at 2:30 am), I’m researching baby food sensitivities. I’ve suspected it for some time, but tried to ignore it when the doctor didn’t seem concerned. Now I have a list of problems for my 7.5 month old that all seem to point to a food allergy/sensitivity. I do try to limit dairy but have a heavy gluten diet. I’m becoming more and more convinced to do an elimination diet. Do you have any more tips or advice on foods? When you started reintroducing foods back in, what was your timeline? I’m so very desperate to help my precious baby girl become healthy, instead of failing to thrive and being so miserable and fussy. Thank you in advance for any tips/advice you may have!

  • 2014-07-28 | Rob

    Hi Brittany,
    We wanted to respond to you while Rachel is on vacation. Many parents who try the Total Elimination Diet that Rachel followed find it helpful to batch-cook staple foods to save time while getting started.

    It’s always best to check with your healthcare team for their advice on timing. An allergist especially will have great insight on how long to wait between foods. They may offer a suggestion similar to offering new foods to infants, like “one new food every 2-3 days.” Elimination diets can be overwhelming, to say the least! Hang in there.

  • 2014-08-05 | Anja

    Eliminating dairy, gluten and gassy veg (i.e. onions) doesn’t seem to improve my LO’s reflux, although I’ve learnt that eggs give him terrible gas. I’m ready to start an elimination diet, starting with the suggestions from Dr. Sears. Here is my question: What about the following foods: oils for cooking, tea (camomile and peppermint), sugar? Could lettuce or cucumber really be a problem? Thanks for any suggestions.

  • 2014-08-07 | Rachel

    Hi Brittany!  I’m sorry to hear you and your LO are struggling!  IMO if you suspect your LO is struggling with a food intolerance there is no harm in trying an elimination diet.  I know you said you are trying to “limit your dairy” intake, I would start there, but be strict, remove ALL sources of dairy from your diet, including hidden dairy like whey, casein, etc. Some babies (like my LO) are sensitive to these hidden ingredients.  Unfortunately, hidden dairy can be found in many items, like prepackaged foods, breads, baked goods, even spices…so you’ll have to read food labels carefully and be diligent. An elimination diet can be overwhelming so don’t get discouraged.  I would also consider removing soy during this trial phase, half of all babies who have trouble with dairy also cannot handle soy; their proteins are very similar. And as Rob mentioned, usually when adding foods back in it’s best to wait at least 2-3 days, I sometimes waited a little longer, up to a week.  Just do what works for you and your LO and check in with your doctor.  I also agree with Rob about the possibility of seeking the advice of an allergist. I took my LO and they were able to help us in our elimination diet.  Hope that helps!  Hang in there and please check back in and let us know how your LO is doing!

  • 2014-08-07 | Rachel

    Hi Anja! It is tough to say what is bothering your LO, every baby is so different. But I do believe you’re on the right track to figuring it out. Have you considered soy?  It looks live you’ve eliminated dairy, gluten, gassy foods, and eggs?  Is that right?  Soy is up there as one of the top offenders for infants, so that would be my next suggestion.  And just double check your diet and make sure you have removed all sources of dairy from your diet, including hidden dairy like casein, when, ect.  Here is a list of hidden ingredients, it came in handy when I was shopping for groceries:


    As far as cooking goes, if you decide to go soy free I would suggest avoiding “vegetable oil” because that is typically soybean oil. Just be sure to read food labels before using it. I usually cook with olive oil, canola oil, or safflower oil.

    I hope that helps! Like I mentioned, each LO is so different it is hard to say what works for one will work for another but you are doing a great job, hang in there!!

  • 2014-09-01 | Melanie

    I’ve been keeping with a TED diet while my lo is on neonate for a month. (He’s 3 months old and has blood and mucous since 5weeks). My hope is thT this will be like hitting a “reset” button. Am I thinking of that correctly? He sees allergist this week. What questions should I be sure to ask at that appt before trying to go back to nursing. The visible blood seems gone and the mucous. But I don’t want to reintroduce nursing until after that appt. any advice????

  • 2014-09-02 | Rachel

    Hi Melanie! So, if I’m reading correctly, you’re doing TED while your LO is on 100% Neocate?  Are you pumping to keep up your supply?

    Unfortunately I cannot tell you whether or not this will be a reset for your LO.  Hopefully you can continue to nurse if that is your goal.  When you go to the allergist I would make sure that he/she knows you want to try nursing again.  Ask them if they have a suggestion for starting up again.  You may need to re-introduce nursing gradually to get your LO used to it again and to watch for any possible reactions. 

    I would also ask them if they can test your LO’s stool to make sure the blood is gone.  You may be able to bring your LO back again later, after you’ve reintroduced nursing, to make sure your LO is still on track.

    Here is some information on nursing a LO with food sensitivities:


    I hope that helps! Please let us know how the appointment with the allergist goes!

  • 2015-07-07 | Tiffani

    Hi there,
    I’ve been doing TED minus corn and nuts for a month now, though I’m going to see if avoiding nuts and all corn sources also makes a difference. My baby is 4 months old and didn’t have any of the bad symptoms, just lots of gas, mucus poops, some congestion, and a bright red ring around his bum. The gas was causing him to wake every hour or more. Night wakings have improved and the red ring went away. Three days ago I tried to reintroduce eggs and he had very smelly gas and cramping. It also made him constipated and he didn’t have a BM until yesterday. This morning I noticed the red ring is back with a vengeance. I’m wondering if in your experience you find it normal that it would take 3 days for the ring to reappear and for the intestinal symptoms to show up and resolve, or if it was maybe caused by something else I ate in that 3-day time period? The only food I had that was new was a handful of blueberries.  I haven’t been that strict with fruits and veggies. I eat pears, apples, summer squash, and cucumbers. Thanks in advance for your input!!

  • 2015-07-09 | Rachel

    Hi Tiffani!  I’m sorry you and your LO are struggling.  It can be very difficult to pinpoint exactly what is bothering your LO.  Have you talked to your doctor or other health professional to help you with your elimination diet?  Every baby is so different so it’s hard to say what is bothering him.  For my LO I found that he couldn’t handle tomatoes, which is not a “typical” allergen, or at least not one of the top 8 (dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, fish, shellfish, fish, peanuts).  I would try and keep a journal and log what you’re eating along with any of your son’s symptoms and see if you can find a pattern?  Also try to reach a baseline, where your LO is fairly comfortable with normal bowel movements, before introducing anything new to your diet.  It does take some times for any offending proteins to leave your system and his once they’ve been introduced.  Hang in there you’re doing a great job!

  • 2015-08-24 | julia

    Hi! I’ve got a 6 mo old daughter that had bloody stools, mucus, and pain from 3 mo to 6 mo and didn’t gain any weight. I tried eliminating dairy, soy, corn, wheat, rice, rye, peanuts,and eggs for 10 weeks but none of them helped. I put her on the formula 10 days ago and she seemed better over night. I’m pumping to keep up my supply while she heals. I don’t know how long I should wait while she is symptom free before reintroducing breastmilk (on the Ted diet), is 1 mo symptom free enough? More? Less? Also, Is it possible that the baby doesn’t have the enzymes to break down the proteins that my body assimilates? Like the ones in my breastmilk? Or is it the protein in a specific food that I am eating that she doesn’t have the enzymes for?

  • 2015-08-28 | Rachel

    Hi Julia!  I’m sorry for the delayed response, and that you and your LO are having trouble.  I’m glad she is better on the formula. I commend you on pumping to continue your supply.  Unfortunately every baby is different and it is hard to say when it would be safe to re-introduce breast milk.  I think these are all excellent questions and you should discuss it with your doctor to come up with a plan that is best for your LO.  My LO was able to continue nursing while I was on TED, and became symptom free after a few weeks.  We did not start re-introducing foods until after his first birthday.  This may be different for you.  I am not sure how helpful I have been for you, but hang in there you are doing great!  Talk to your doctor and please update us!!

  • 2016-07-29 | Jessica

    Hi! I know this is an old post, but I stumbled across it while searching for help with TED.  My son is 4 months old.  I’ve been dairy and soy free since he was about 2 weeks, and Top 8 free since he was about a month.  We never got to a great baseline, his stools were always a little mucousy.  They gradually became more mucousy until finally the were also bloody.  I’ve cut my diet down to quinoa, apples/applesauce, sweet potato, russet potato, butternut squash, pineapple, strawberries, carrots, cucumber, spinach, lettuce, asparagus, brussel sprouts, pork, beef, chia seeds, hemp seeds, olive oil and pink salt.  I’m just starting out so no idea yet whether or not this is enough elimination.  My question is, can you tell me how much meat you ate in a day? I am not generally that big of a meat eater so I’m pretty sure I’m not consuming enough.

  • 2016-08-01 | Nutrition Specialist

    Hi Jessica,
      We’re sorry to hear you and your son are having such a difficult go. Thanks so much for your question. We can’t give medical advice, so please ask your healthcare for their guidance. It sounds like you still have good sources of protein in your diet (i.e. pork, beef, quinoa), the trick is including enough to meet your needs as you’re feeding your little one. Based on the foods you have left, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask about other key nutrients beyond protein that you may need to consider supplementing (e.g. calcium, vitamin D, essential fats, etc.). It could be really helpful to ask your healthcare team for a referral to a registered dietitian.
      Best of luck to you!

  • 2016-08-03 | Kate

    Hi. My LO is extremely gassy and wakes frequently, so I’m starting the TED recommended by Dr. Sears. When I cook those items, I obviously can’t use butter. Would you recommend trying to do it without olive oil as well? Just not sure how to prepare the items other than I’m allowed to use salt and pepper. Thanks!

  • 2016-08-05 | Rachel

    Hi Kate!  It is definitely tough figuring out what you can and cannot eat when on a TED. 

    I did cook my food in olive oil, and used salt and pepper to season; for us my LO did fine with this cooking method.  You can always consult with your doctor and get their recommendation.  And maybe try some different cooking methods and/or oils?  Just be aware that “vegetable oil” is usually soy oil, which may aggravate your LO if MSPI.  I hope that helps!

  • 2016-08-24 | K H

    I’m trying to research TED and it seems everyone has a different group of foods. It’s very overwhelming. Dr. Sears recommends turkey, lamb, rice, potato, squash, pear and millet. What made you choose your foods? I’m trying to help my son and I’m willing to do anything. Internet search has dead ended and there is conflicting info. I don’t know where to start

  • 2016-08-29 | Rachel

    Hi KH!  Yes, I agree it can be very confusing and stressful sorting out all of the information available, especially when doing internet research.  Unfortunately, most doctors aren’t well versed in TED (and I am certainly no expert either!) but that is where I would start first.  Contact your doctor and see if they have any information they can offer.  I would also recommend seeking out a pediatric allergist.  I was very glad that I did, he helped me with my diet.  I chose Dr. Sears’ diet, and followed it loosely…and what I mean by that is, my LO was fine with the chicken I was eating so I never went to lamb…however he couldn’t handle the pears, so that was cut out.  It definitely took time and patience to figure out.  I hope you’re able to find something that works for your LO.  Check in with your doctor and let us know what you decide!

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