Parenting Seminars

Friday, April 15, 2011

Update on the 4 Year OId's Food Intolerances

Our "go to" gluten free, vegan muffin based on this one from gluten free girl.  We just replace the eggs with flax seed meal and the milk with an alternative.  I think this version I used coconut milk.  Then added blueberries!

Well, we have made it through 7 weeks of testing.  I am so proud of my daughter.  She is just moving through all of this with such grace.  Even the week of gluten, which she was really excited about, caused minimal distress.  She was pretty bummed when she told me on day 3 after we had seen plenty of symptoms, that she had had a tummy ache and headache for DAYS and they wouldn't go away.  I told her it was probably the gluten she'd been eating and she gave one good try to convince herself and me that it was something else.  But we both knew.

So here's the list.  Dairy we are still unsure of.  We need to test again with mostly milk instead of cheese and yogurt.  Not enough protein to react.  BUT...its possible that it gave her an upset tummy because she had rough nights of sleep that week.  Eggs sent her head spinning like a hairy monster.  She was aggressive, reactive, snappy and angry.  We stopped testing after 3 days because we were exhausted from the emotional attacks.  She was instantly calmer.  And she recognized it too!  Soy created all her skin stuff.  Eczema, butt rash, and some mental spaciness.  Gluten gave her tons of gas and she had several bowel movements a day that suggests she wasn't retaining many nutrients.  It also gave her the headache and tummy aches.  This week is cranberries.  If today's experience says anything, she is crazy emotional again. But today is the first day.  Not enough data.

And the blood pressure issue?  She is steadily decreasing each week as well as losing weight.  I'm hopeful that when we are off all these foods for a while, her blood pressure will stabilize.

So what now?  I am so grateful for our Naturopath.  She explained this all so beautifully to me.  So...its possible that one of these foods is the real culprit creating inflammation of the stomach lining cells.  That inflammation creates spaces in the lining where the other foods are seeping into the blood stream.  (leaky gut syndrome) The body notices a foreign substance in the blood and attacks like it does a virus or bacteria.  That constant attack causes all kinds of symptoms.  The hope is that after about 6 months of total avoidance of these foods, we can re-test them again and see the level of stress to the body.  Maybe one will show dramatic signs, maybe the others won't create symptoms unless introduced for several days.  Or, she may have to avoid all these foods forever.  Either way, discovering the cause of the various problems she's been experiencing has been an empowering experience.

We have also been seeing an occupational therapist because we thought Lucy had some sensory processing issues.  The longer she is off these foods, the more diminished the sensory issues are.  So I'm hopeful that in Lucy's case, her sensory things are more personality quirks that we can all work with instead of disruptive and debilitating behaviors that require lots of extra support.  We'll see.

I continue to have people respond to the discovery of Lucy's food intolerances with a dismissive tone as if we are just following a trend and are over-reactive.  I'm not sure why the first response isn't to be curious and compassionate but its not.  I usually get all kinds of reasons why we are probably wrong in our assessment.  I'm learning to move past these interactions with more ease but it takes an emotional toll on me to be so assertive all the time.  The best moment is when someone else is able to share in my experience of trying to take away most of what their 4 year old likes to eat in order to purposefully induce specific behaviors and physical symptoms that are stressful and sometimes exhausting!  But overall, this was a great experience for all of us.

We confirmed some issues for our youngest daughter as well and my husband is more aware of how his body reacts to gluten.  We are much less dependent on those foods and have more veggies, fruits and a diverse selection of grains because of that.  And I am becoming a better cook as I am challenged to find new ways to eat.  I used to avoid cooking feeling incompetent and disappointed with the final product.  But there is nothing like a medical issue with your child to motivate you to move beyond your own insecurities!  I'm learning new skills, and beginning to understand what types of foods go together well and how to prepare basic things like dressings and sauces.  It is actually fun.

The next step is expanding my daughter's food list.  She is fairly picky so the options available to her now are really limited.  We are making a chart with images of the foods she likes and putting them into categories so she can help plan meals for herself.  I'm hoping this will minimize some of her disappointment and allows me to introduce some new things regularly that she will at least try.  I'll keep you posted on how its working.


Dan and Gail said...

Just say BOO to the naysayers. I see a happier, healthier granddaughter and a more relaxed, healthy mom. Wish I would have had all this information when all you kids were little. Especially with your lactose intolerance. Why wasn't the internet invented sooner in my lifetime??? :)

Gretchen said...

Thanks Grandma!

Chessa said...

So glad to hear you have some definitive information to work with. We're still trying to suss out Chad's intolerances and it's SO much work! And he's an adult! I have a lot of history and experience with vegan cooking and would be happy to send you some recipes that might be helpful (pretty good Mac and cheese that you could make with GF pasta!). Are nuts on the yes list? I have a cashew cheese recipe that's pretty freaking good, too! My old abandoned food blog is

Katie Kadwell said...

Gretchen, I did not realize you are so steeped in all this sustainablity/food/etc. We need to hang out more. You are an inspiration!

Gretchen said...

@Chessa...yes, I would love that recipe and she is able to eat nuts. She really only eats cashews.

@Katie...Thank you! I follow your political leanings and am grateful for the education I get from your facebook page. Yes, hanging out would be great!