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No Gluten- No Cry

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let’s Talk About Food

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their struggles and successes with healthy eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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No Gluten- No Cry

This is a subject I should love.

Food.  I mean, come on- my name out here is “kitchenwitch” you’d expect me to love talking about food.  Food and I have a tricky history.  For a long time I was a BAD COOK.  The huz was a sweetheart, but there were times when the dinners I cooked were actually inedible.  I would burn things- all the time.  You know that joke about the dinner bell being the fire alarm?  In our house that is a true story.  Chicken nuggets and french fries, frozen pizza, and microwave dinners were the norm.  I found fresh vegetables intimidating- unless they were in basic salad form (and I’m talking basic.  Spinach was exotic and kale was something my vovo put in soup.  It is only in the last five years or so that I’ve been able to take interest, and later pride, in the food I feed my family.

When I was twenty-four, my second child was born- Patrick.  He was not a happy baby. He cried, constantly.  I was breastfeeding, and he would have to eat every hour, around the clock.  He was slow to put on weight.  He fussed and cried and spat up more than any baby I had ever known.  When he began eating food he would throw up ALL THE TIME and he had horrible rashes.  He screamed and cried.  He was the temper-tantrum king.  He never wanted to be held or cuddled.  He fought me with every single ounce of his little being.  It was so sad, but I didn’t understand how to help him.  I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what.

When he was two, Willow was born.  At her first baby check up, I mentioned to the doctor (a new doctor) that I was concerned about Patrick- I made a joke about how foul his bowel movements were and that he had NEVER had a solid one yet.  Our old doctor didn’t seem concerned, but I was really worried.  The doctor suggested that he might have an allergy and he put Patrick on an elimination diet- no gluten, soy, eggs, nuts, dairy.

I had never heard of food allergies (no one in my family has ever had one) so it had never occurred to me that this might be the problem.  Within days we saw a change.  Patrick became calm.  He was sweet and happy.  I can still remember the first day he HUGGED me.  He had never done that before and I was so happy I burst into tears.  By the end of the summer he was a completely different child.  I think his poor tummy finally had a chance to settle and heal.

We slowly began to add back foods, one by one, and I kept a food journal for him.  Through trial and error we discovered that he doesn’t have a full blown allergy, but is sensitive to most foods on the no-no list.  As long as we keep his diet well-balanced and incorporate a lot of whole fresh foods, he does just fine.  This experience forced me to learn to make better meals and snacks for my family.

I’m glad it all worked out- he is ok now, and enjoys what I cook for him and his brother and sisters, but I feel bad when I think of that poor little baby.  I work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen again.  I spend quite a bit of time planning our weekly menus, trying to walk the line between well-balanced meals made with healthy, fresh foods and our limited budget.  We eat a ton of vegetables and beans- we have been slowly dropping meat from our diet and we are veggie about five days a week now.  We love the farmer’s market and I enjoy finding new things to make for my family.

The littles have fabulous appetites and every one of them is blessed with an adventurous palate- so they love to try new and interesting foods.  I’m so happy that they know dinner doesn’t have to come from a box.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated July 13 with all the carnival links.)

38 Responses to No Gluten- No Cry

  1. I had similar problems with my dd2. For 3 months she did not gain weight and she would breastfeed every 45 minutes around.the.clock. SHe was fussy and it was awful.

    Unfortunately the doc I went to for her 6 mon checkup didn’t seem concerned about finding out why she wasn’t gaining. So I by passed her advice to give my 6 month old straight cow’s milk and didi an elimination diet. Turns out she is sensitive to dairy and for a while was also sensitive to gluten.

  2. Aw, your poor little guy, I’m glad you were able to figure out his food sensitivities! My little one couldn’t tolerate dairy for his first 7 months. I was exclusively breastfeeding so I had to cut out dairy from my own diet. What’s funny is that when I was pregnant with him, I was very dairy intolerant myself. I should have guessed what was to come.

  3. You are lucky that your kids will eat a good variety of foods. I wish I were that lucky! (having a Reluctant Feeder with sensory issues and on the autism spectrum is a daily food battle.)

    • I can’t imagine what that must be like. :(

      When he was little it was really difficult to get him to eat good things… When we started the elimination diet, he would scream and cry because he wanted his staple foods. But, once he started to figure out that some of the things he ate made him feel sick, it became easier to get him to try new things.

      <3

  4. Powerful stuff. I’m a great believer that food is our medicine and in the case of Patrick; that certainly is the case. My daughter is intolerant to refined sugar (not as serious as gluten, I know) but she is like a different child when she inadvertently has it. I look around me and see kids who are as high as a kite, unable to focus, having ‘behavioural challenges’ and I just wonder about the food they eat – don’t you?

    So pleased you have Patrick’s diet sorted; that’s wonderful …

    • I do- I was just talking to a friend yesterday about this- her son is very sensitive and gets upset so easily, it reminded me so much of Patrick when he was little… So I talked with her about our experience with diet change. I hope she tries it!

      <3

  5. Good for you for taking the initiative even when the old doctor hadn’t seemed too concerned. Moms know when something isn’t right, even if we can’t always pinpoint what’s wrong.

  6. I’m always amazed (but not totally surprised) and how connected we are to the food we put in our mouths. I’m so glad you were able to figure it out for Patrick’s sake! I think I was similarly sensitive to things, though not quite to the same extent. Once I realized I was allergic to some key things that go into our food (not the food itself) it was easy to start avoiding all that junk. I don’t miss sodas one bit!

  7. That’s amazing to hear of your son’s transformation! Food is so powerful.

    I know from other posts you’ve done that you really stretch your budget, and I’m glad to hear you’re able to fit in lots of fresh produce regardless. I know when we’re feeling the pinch, we’re tempted to skimp there, and it’s never a good thing.

    Thanks for this post!

    • No- fresh produce is SO important. If my budget is tight and I have to skimp, I leave meat off the grocery list.

      Meat is so expensive and it really makes a difference to our grocery bill.

  8. My Youngest is very sensitive to dairy, her first couple of months were a screaming nightmare, she cried and cried, severe colic in the evenings, green, mucousy explosive poo, constant snacking, needing to be held (upright) almost all the time. I even took her to A&E more than once because there was blood in her green slimy poo. I was told she had a tummy bug. No, I said, she’s not dehydrated, she’s not vomiting, she’s got no temperature, she’s exclusively breastfed, non of us have tummy bugs, thats not the problem. No, said the Dr, she has a tummy bug.

    One day whilst venting to a friend she made me list her symptoms, and compared them to the symptoms her sons had both had. Both her sons are dairy intolerant. The penny dropped. I cut dairy from my diet, my baby went from screaming and writhing to smiling and comfortable. When I mentioned this to my Health Visitor, she wrote “Lactose Intolerant” in her notes. I had to explain the difference between cows milk protein intolerance and lactose intolerance.

    She’s 4 now, and still can’t tolerate much dairy. A bit of cheese or yoghurt now and then is ok, but ice cream, creamy sauces or lots of cheese or yoghurt give her belly aches, wind and the runs.

    Fortunately running an exclusion diet is easy for me, I have coeliac disease, so most food we eat is gluten free, it wasn’t hard to me to add dairy to my list of banned ingredients. And fortunately I love to cook, so we are never short of cakes and cookies, or even home made pasta. All of it dairy & gluten free.

    It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible!

  9. Wow, I couldn’t believe the similarties between yours and my experience. My son was such a fussy baby and cried ALL THE TIME too, until we started working with our naturopath who figured out he has food sensitivities. It’s really tricky and definitely more time consuming to plan meals now, but at least it’s for a good cause! Thanks for sharing your story :-)

  10. I am really glad that you found this out early, and that the improvement was so dramatic and so obvious. We have several mild food sensitivities in our house, and one pretty significant one (also gluten). It certainly can make meal planning more challenging, but not having to rush stomach cramps to the doctor any longer was a relief.

  11. You are awesome for figuring it out! Elimination diets are hard work, and I know lots of parents unwilling to try…

    My 1st born cried a LOT. I instinctively eliminated dairy from my diet (I was already vegetarian at the time…) and it was like a MIRACLE. She can tolerate some dairy now, but gets pretty darned emotional when she’s gotten too much. <3

    • We get milk delivery each week, it isn’t raw- but it is SUPER fresh and hormone/antibiotic free, and Patrick does really well with it in moderation.

      He calls the milk at the grocery store “rotten milk”.

      • How nice! I haven’t found anything like that here (although we only buy organic dairy products, it’s just not the same as fresh & local!), but I suspect I will have better luck once we move!

  12. We have had the same exact problems. Once we cut out corn, soy and then sugar and along with homeopathic treatments our ds#2 has gotten so much better. His skin is still a mess so I think our next step is to cut the gluten. Food is so powerful and I truly believe that food is the best medicine we have.

    • Oh yay! Glad he is getting better!!!

      Patrick’s skin gets really bad when we overdo the gluten. He gets HORRIBLE oozy excema patches. Poor kid.

      I hope your little’s skn clears up soon!

      <3

  13. I love it. I too have a really fussy little one and have found food sensitivities (along with a healthy dose of his mama’s stubborn disposition) to be a contributing factor. My house has to be gluten free and egg free to meet the dietary requirements of everyone in the house. I got tired of making some gluten, some non, some egg, some non and overall limited dairy. Great instinct with your son – glad you found him underneath those pesky sensitivities : )

  14. I’m the same way, not a full-blown allergy but am sensitive. Isn’t it great when you finally figure it out??? I would love to read about what kinds of recipes you use and what types of things you eat that are gluten-free! Definitely in a rut over here.

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