We’ve been living/cooking/eating gluten free for a solid 6 months now and since making the switch I get asked 2 questions all the time. First, how did you know about your sons gluten intolerance and two, where did you start?
Both are fairly large questions but I figured I’d tackle them together so those of you who aren’t at all interested in gluten-free eating can just carry on and not have to read multiple posts! For those of you who have more questions after this, feel free to contact me with them.
First of all, we noticed when my son was very very young, like 6 months-ish, he had a perpetually runny nose. It wasn’t the really gross kind of runny nose where you know you’re sick and he didn’t have any other symptoms of a cold or a virus, just a constant, clear, drippy nose.
I took him to a naturopath and considering I was nursing the only thing to do was for me to eliminate certain things from my diet and see how they affected him as a way of checking for allergies. As anyone who’s been to a naturopath before will know, the first two eliminations are wheat and dairy. I lasted 3 days. I was starving. I was cranky. I assure you 11 years ago we did not have the resources on eating gluten and dairy free that we do now and I just couldn’t do it.
We made the decision to put him on formula and see if that helped. I assure you the decision was not an easy one as the cost of a wheat free, soy free, dairy free formula was akin to purchasing gold. I didn’t know what else to do though. There didn’t seem to be a good alternative. So we went that route and within a week his drippy nose had stopped altogether.
We tested it out a few times and put him onto regular formula and within a day the runny nose would be back. Clearly we had found the culprit!
As he grew, we had him on goat’s milk and lactose free milk and eventually weaned him onto normal milk. He seemed fine for the most part and as I didn’t know how to live without wheat and gluten, once he started eating normal solids he just ate what we ate.
I knew this wasn’t the best alternative for him but he seemed mostly fine. I truly was a busy young mom with little resources and a budget and decided to overlook what might be bothering him in his young years. Not a proud mothering decision, but it is what it is.
In the past few years I’ve been reading more and more about wheat, how it is grown and harvested, the genetic modifications of it and how more and more people are developing sensitivities to it. Plus, now that it seems to be a trend in eating, there are so many more options food-wise, recipe-wise, etc.
After living a life with almost constant tummy aches, we met with a friend who has eaten gluten and dairy free for quite some time. She explained how it helped her and how she used alternatives in regular cooking. After leaving there I asked my son if he was ready. At 11 years old I certainly was not about to force him to eat differently. I couldn’t be at every friends house or birthday party monitoring his intake and I wasn’t about to take on a daily fight if he didn’t want to change. He agreed to it.
We cut out all wheat and gluten and dairy. I admit, this is not easy. It’s still not easy for him some days, but most days we’ve got it figured out!
We started simply. Eating pure foods.
This is the easiest way to start without getting overwhelmed. Just stick to a diet that is pure. Fruits, Vegetables, Eggs, Nuts, Rice and Meat only seasoned with pure spices. Of course, that’s going to get old within a week but it’s an easy test to see if living gluten free will help you.
We know, without a doubt, that it has helped our son and has actually caused all of us to eat a more healthy diet. The things that we noticed within a week were that his tummy aches had almost completely gone away. Previously, he would often go to bed in tears. He would explain that his stomach felt like if you poked a pin into it, that it would explode everywhere! Also, we had always just assumed that this boy of ours had a different body shape than our other two sons. I explain it now like when you see a cute little 3 year old in a bathing suit. You know how they have that tummy that sticks out (like it should at 3 years old!). My son’s stomach always looked this way. Hard and protruding. Within a week of eating gluten and dairy free his stomach had flattened to a normal 11 year old boy type stomach! It was amazing! We realized that it wasn’t his body shape, it was what was going on inside that was causing it!
So we know that eating this way is helping. I’ve read and learned a lot over the 6 months and I may share more over time. (cooking tips, recipes, doctor visits etc) For now, we know that it’s helped him so much and we’ve adjusted our lifestyle accordingly. When you see your child feel better, the expense and the work you have to put in is easily disregarded! We’re just thrilled that he’s healthy and happy and doesn’t go to bed in pain!