Interview with Melody Haldeman - Toddler Food Allergies, Brave:Love Lived Out and High Intensity Workouts.

Interview with Melody Haldeman – Toddler Food Allergies, Brave:Love Lived Out and High Intensity Workouts.

For today’s post, I am honored to interview my friend Melody Haldeman.  She is a wife and mother of two boys.  She is such a beautiful, godly woman and loves people so well.  When I read her answers to my questions, I pretty much teared up a few times, she’s so genuine and tender.  I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did… – Natalie 
1.  Your three-year-old son has food allergies; tell us about that.
“We discovered my son Gabriel’s food allergies about 10 months ago. This was a breakthrough discovery for us after 8 heartbreaking months of symptoms that included non-stop out of control behavior, night terrors, refusal to eat and failure to thrive. The symptoms started when he was around 19 months old and began to transform him from a happy, loving little boy into an withdraw, unpredictable toddler.  His behavior escalated to the point where we would no longer leave the house with him. As first time parents we first thought these symptoms were behavior related (terrible twos!) and tried every technique on the planet. Nothing worked.

Our miracle breakthrough happened during the first visit to a new doctor. Gabriel and I both had a breakdown during the visit, giving the Dr. a good idea of what we were dealing with on a daily basis. She brought up the possibility of food allergies and asked us to start an elimination diet while we waited for blood test results. Secretly I didn’t believe this would work. But we were desperate and ready to try anything. The first full day of elimination diet – he slept through the night with no night terrors for the first time in months! Gabe spent a few days of resisting most of the new healthy food options and choosing to go to bed hungry. Then, shockingly, he started anything we put in front of him, filling himself with gentle, nourishing food. My husband and I were stunned. Over the next few weeks his behavior changed dramatically. The screaming fits slowly stopped, he started communicating in sentences again, his bowel problems ended. A milestone moment of breakthrough occurred when I looked into his face and gave him an instruction. He gave eye contact, connected with me and I realized he could cognitively understanding what I was saying again. My son was back, his body and spirit were released from pain. This was the best gift I could ask for.

The test results revealed the full span of his food intolerances. He is now gluten/soy/most dairy/oat/almond/corn free. We implemented the lifestyle change immediately and are beyond thankful for the healing.” 

2. How was your family’s transition into this new diet?
“Our diet at the time was mostly meatless and heavy on grains, legumes & nuts, all of which didn’t work well in the new allergen free lifestyle. We added grass-fed meats and seafood to our diet while cutting out 95% of  processed items. At first, it was easiest to focus on simple whole food meals, consisting of a protein with a few vegetable sides. I had to educate myself on allergen free eating and study different gluten free cooking techniques (Pinterest and various blogs – such as Community Eats are helpful resources for this). With time, I started adding more variety and excitement to our diet. It took a few months before I was brave enough to dip my toes into gluten free baking – so far creating some comical flops but also some ridiculously delicious goodies.

It’s been a fantastic health experience for the whole family. We’re reaping the benefits of extra energy and improved health. Gabriel gained a voracious appetite and will happily devour all the vibrant vegetables, succulent meats, healthy fats & complex carbs we put in front of him. It’s such a blessing to see him thrive again!”

3.  What would you advise people who have allergies or have to accommodate family members who do?

“Give your tastebuds plenty of time to adjust. Just like children often need to try something several times before developing a liking, our taste buds can adjust as well. Use a new ingredient several times before deciding if you don’t like it. I had to adjust to coconut oil and flaxseed, both of which are stars in my kitchen now.”

4. Your home is a consistent gathering place.  How often do you gather people, what does that look like?

“My husband Steve and I bought our home with the vision it would be used as a resting place for those needing love and family. We try to stay true to that mindset and welcome opportunities to open our home. A large extended family in the area means that holidays and birthday parties have a 20+ person guest list, we love that! Creating a gathering place sometimes looks like a our little house being stuffed to the brim with people or as simple as siping drinks on the porch with neighbors during warm summer nights. We can get dinner party fancy for special occasions and other times (most of the times 😉 I can be found improvising an unplanned meal for friends, possibly still wearing my pajamas! Either way, there is something powerful about opening your home and a part of yourself to receive others. Embrace this everyday opportunity to communicate acceptance and belonging to those who cross your door, family included.”

4.  What are a few of your favorite hosting tips?

“KNOW YOUR PANTRY STAPLES. My pantry protein staples are eggs, tuna and sardines. I always have these proteins on hand and can create a good variety of quick dishes from them based on what I have fresh in the fridge. Use gourmet flavor combinations to create quick, simple meals that SHINE.

MAKE FRIENDS WITH THAT CROCKPOT! Less stress, more fun. Crockpots are great for cooking larger cuts of meat. I prep the ‘crock’ during the baby’s morning nap, whip a few sides together during afternoon nap and come dinner time – the guests are here and dinner is already done. No fussing required!

DIVIDE AND CONQUER! Ask friends to each bring a dish. Creating community means we are all in this together, right? Try theming a meal (ex. Mexican Taco, Greek, Around the World in 12 plates…) for more fun. 

BABY STEPS. Hosting a crowd can be overwhelming during certain seasons (I have totally been there). Start small. Try inviting a neighbor over for afternoon tea or have new acquaintance over for dessert after the kids are in bed. Practice extending hospitality in little ways, it’s about quality, not quantity. ”

5.  The Brave Love message is about saying “yes” to Jesus and using your resources to love others well.  How have you used your home to impact your neighborhood and love those around you?

“I love this message because I believe with all my heart that in EVERY PLACE, EVERY SEASON we have equal, amazing opportunities around us to bravely communicate love. My current season looks like a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom who is basically housebound with two kids. My ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood doesn’t seems like a missions field, but opportunities abound every moment I open myself to love instead of withdrawing in fear. One day, many months ago, I happened to be flailing in the midst of postpartum anxiety wondering “what is my purpose?” “will I ever be part of anything significant again?” – a neighbor teen came to my door and asked for a drink. Saying “YES” to love in that simple opportunity opened the door to build a true relationship with this teen and other teens in our neighborhood. Young people without strong family relationships and struggling in a difficult school system now have a welcome spot in our home, a safe place to  experience family. Today, I may not be able to follow a dream of traveling the world to pull children out of slavery, but today – I can extend friendship and safety to a teen searching for identity in a world that tells them they are never enough! I believe wholeheartedly that simple things done with great love can change the world. Every day is a decision – my sacrifice of a potential afternoon nap (mamas know…not always an easy sacrifice 😉 to mediate a fight between two of “our teens” doesn’t sound like a world changing move but THIS STUFF MATTERS. Good and bad, convenient and inconvenient – just be there. I believe a hug can change a heart and a simple word can awaken destiny. When we have even 1% openness to love, we can be guaranteed that God will move through that in incredible ways, although it might look different than what we would have planned.

Put your whole heart into the “BRAVE YES” that is RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU! Moms…hello! If raising children and supporting a family isn’t saying “yes” about a million times a day I don’t know what is. It takes true bravery and a warrior spirit to hold your kids all night when they’re sick, clean up mass amounts of bodily fluids, choose patience over frustration and joy in the face of monotony. DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY. Please don’t minimize your vital and important role as shepherd over the next generation (God sure doesn’t). Wildly embrace the MANY opportunities to be brave for your family. Choose to see ordinary clean-up duties as great acts of love – you’re creating a relaxing and purposeful environment for your family to grow! Cooking is an opportunity to nourish their children health and grow em’ up strong and healthy for their bright futures! Value diaper changes as an opportunity to look them in their eyes and exchange love. You guard their futures with your quick prayers whispered in-between time-outs and refereeing. The strength to tenaciously cling to hope for your family instead of falling into despair..…simple..important…BRAVE.”

6. How do you squeeze in fitness into your busy schedule?

“My approach to fitness is to workout hard for a short amount of time. I exclusively workout with kettlebells or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to maximize the short and precious alone time available for exercise. My current plan is to exercise intensely for 25 minutes a day/3-4 times a week. That’s all.  Believe it or not, I am experiencing twice the muscle increase and energy compared to my previous routine of running and practicing yoga daily. Trying to find time for THAT routine for that was more stressful then workout itself! Half the time and twice the results is a great deal for me. Another advantage is that these workouts can be done from the convenience of your living room and abundant instructional videos are free on YouTube. You can get started today – no excuses!

Planning to succeed is a must. On our daily schedule I i have implemented “Mom’s Power Hour” (strategically planned during the boy’s afternoon nap) as time set aside to choose either a workout for bodily energy or reading/devotion time to refresh the mind & spirit. Happy Mama = happy family. My husband agrees that this is one of our best decisions yet!”

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3 Responses to Interview with Melody Haldeman – Toddler Food Allergies, Brave:Love Lived Out and High Intensity Workouts.

  1. Nicole Kennedy May 20, 2014 at 3:26 am #

    Melody is one of my bestest friends!!! She’s so sweet, and self-less and inspires me to be a better mom wife, and friend! I love you Mel!!! :o)

    • CommunityEats May 20, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

      She is truly an incredible woman and it’s so fun to discover more of who she is as I get to know her! Nicole, you are blessed to call her a bestie!


  1. Creating Community within Your Community - by Melody Haldeman | Community EatsCommunity Eats - June 25, 2014

    […] Melody and her husband live in Pennsylvania with their two small boys. As an active an healthy mama she is exploring ‘clean’ eating with her family and has seen dramatic results in her boys. You can read more about this here. […]

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