When Food Makes You Sick: Feeding a Family with a Food Intolerance
During pregnancy, like most first time mothers-to-be, I wanted to do everything I could to prepare for my sweet baby. I researched all the top brands of car seats, cribs, strollers. I bought a book touting the top 100 foods for a healthy pregnancy, and even wore a heart rate monitor during workouts to make sure I would not stress the baby. I felt I was ready and prepared to give my baby the best start!
Shortly after my beautiful daughter entered this world, we were hit with months of terrible colic; gut-wrenching screams came from her all day long. It was on the advice of some amazing moms and lactation specialists in my breastfeeding support group that I learned to remove several foods from my diet to quell her swollen, gassy, painful tummy as I breastfed her. I had long known that consuming the right foods is important to your well-being but I was soon to learn just how disastrous consuming the wrong foods could be.
Although her colic subsided, soon after we were faced with our daughter’s next challenges. She began to suffer from chronic constipation as a toddler as well as developmental delays. After months of ECI, the specialists and her doctor both recommended a neurologist for verbal and gross motor delays. But first we wanted to rule out a food intolerance.
We discovered my daughter’s issues were neurological and digestive. We were lucky to have a holistic doctor and she recommended an antibodies test. Her gluten intolerance reactivity was off the chart. While an allergy has an immediate histamine reaction, triggering the immune system, an intolerance is different and often veiled and can present in so many different ways. That was when we decided as a family to make the lifestyle change to being gluten free.
The positive effects of the gluten free diet for my family were amazing. My daughter finally took her first steps at 20 months, the same week her twin brothers were born! I chose to go gluten free beginning the last trimester of my twin pregnancy and what a success it was when we avoided colic while breastfeeding both of them. We avoided the nightmare of two colicky babies!
So how do you make gluten-free and clean eating your lifestyle… with kids? It is a challenge at first and does require some planning. We try to focus on eating mainly healthy meats, fish and tons of fruits and veggies. We avoid the processed food aisles. I still make favorites like lasagna or spaghetti but I substitute rice noodles or gluten free pasta. We have found quinoa, rice and potatoes help supplement the kids’ overwhelming need for carbohydrates. I am not a baker but I made my first gluten-free banana nut muffins last week and they were a cinch… and delicious!
For snacks I usually bring some type of nuts or cheese, apple slices, grapes, carrots, celery or other fruit. I always try to combine a protein with a carbohydrate. I find it keeps the kid's moods and behavior leveled, which is a definite win! Since my daughter’s school is nut-free I have had to get more creative for her snacks but Pinterest came to the rescue with fun and tasty ideas and recipes.
Dining out is more difficult and we have had to do our research to learn what foods and ingredients have hidden gluten. Fortunately many restaurants now offer a sizeable selection of gluten-free meals, even pizza, which is very exciting to our children.
Being a gluten free parent, I have had to be creative and do extra research with the family meals. I have had to get out of my comfort zone and experiment and even try my hand at gluten free birthday cakes. The biggest gain is that we were able to eliminate harmful food from our diets so our family can be healthier, free from chronic ailments and hopefully prevent future ailments associated with its effects. Although it is not always easy, we believe our commitment to a gluten-free diet is teaching our children early on to make healthy decisions for themselves and that part of being healthy is the act of choosing a healthy lifestyle.
If you or your child is suffering from ailments that your doctors are having trouble diagnosing, or worse, if they are dismissing them, trust your gut (gluten pun intended!) and advocate for you and your family’s health. Read a book or conduct you own research. I hope that my family’s experience helps you just as I was helped by others.
Disclaimer: This blog posting contains opinions and personal views, and is not to be considered as expert advice or opinion. Nor does it represent the views of Arlington Mothers of Multiples.