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Reader Question: Our son is 19 months. Last year, right before his first birthday up until August he didn’t gain any weight, and was over-the-top irritable. My naturopath suggested taking him off gluten, which I did, and also had dramatic results. I have him back on gluten so he can be tested (if you take it out they won’t get an accurate result).
Rebecca: Congratulations to you on your commitment to your son’s health. Again and again, I hear from medical professionals that many patients’ complaints can be treated with a change in diet. While signs and symptoms of celiac disease can vary greatly from person to person, typically they include:
- Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating
- Fatigue or general weakness
- Foul-smelling or grayish stools that are often fatty or oily
- Stunted growth in children
- Weight loss, or alternatively, obesity
Celiac disease can also result in malabsorption of nutrients. It is especially critical that your son is diagnosed now so that you can take steps to ensure he receives the nutrients he requires during this time of rapid growth and development.
Reader: Where did you find recipes while doing your toddler’s gluten-free diet? I find it hard to find a good resource with kid appeal menus. It’s a VERY hard diet to follow and because of the amount of work involved I too am hoping his tests are negative! Either way, if that’s what it takes to have a healthier child, then I will be a gluten-free cookin’ mama.
Rebecca: First, I completely agree; a gluten-free lifestyle is in no way “care-free.” One visit to www.Celiac.com, and you learn very quickly that wheat and gluten additives are hidden everywhere, from salad dressing, to egg dishes and sauces, making restaurant eating potentially disastrous. While it can be tough to find foods your little one will enjoy, frankly, it is much easier than being diagnosed as an adult, who already has a lifetime of food preferences and habits to overhaul.
When I first set out to test the gluten-free theory, I simply went to my local health food stores (where I regularly shop) and selected those items specifically marked “gluten-free.” Most grocery stores now supply a list of all gluten-free products they sell—you just have to ask the store manager for the list.
For me, the experience was confusing and expensive. Some of the products were tasty and worth the extra cost, and some were downright unpalatable and went straight in the trash. We like to eat together as a family, and gluten-free grains are among the highest on the glycemic index–meaning I quickly put on a few extra pounds while trying to encourage my child to try his new foods. The simplest and most logical thing for our entire family is to eat a low-carbohydrate/low GI diet, consisting of lean protein, beans, veggies, fruits, probiotic yogurt, cheese, nuts and seeds. And high-cacao (over 70%) chocolate for treats! My son Joseph also enjoys gluten-free pancakes and breads frequently for breakfast and lunch. My waistline is leaner and Joseph is happy and comfortable, and doesn’t feel deprived. I love to cook and have a separate blog with several amazingly delicious gluten-free and kid-friendly recipes that your whole family will enjoy.
The two biggest hurdles with small children? Goldfish crackers and birthday cake. They are both irresistible magnets. I make my own goldfish crackers at home, and you can buy gluten-free cake mixes, but you will always have difficulty at playdates and birthday parties.
I wish you the best of luck and look forward to learning the results of your son’s GF test. Please check back with me if you have any further questions–I’m here to help!
Hit ”Comments” with your health or parenting question(s), or thoughts about raising a gluten-free child!