Friday, August 17, 2012

Living with Food Intolerances

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This is my story about why we chose to go gluten and dairy free for our daughter.

I totally thought that toddler diarrhea was normal. I don't know why, but I didn't even question the fact that Scarlett was still having between 3-7 runny poops a day. It became a normal occurance and I didn't even question it. Doctors are always telling us that it is normal for a toddler to have diarrhea, but is it normal for diarrhea to be their normal. It wasn't until I took her in for a regular check-up to nurse practioner in our area that it was brought to my attention. She suggested we try a gluten-free diet, decrease the amount of dairy in her diet by giving her rice, coconut or almond milk, and start giving her probiotics.  After about two weeks I saw a little bit of difference in her attitude, but she was still having diarrhea. At this point I made the decision to take out all dairy in her diet. I had always kind of wondered if it was the dairy she couldn't tolerate because her colic did get better when I cut dairy out of my diet while nursing but I never stuck with it. Anyways dairy is a hard one because it can take anywhere from 2 weeks to a month for dairy to rid itself from your body.  However, after about 5 days of off dairy I had a completely different child. She had a completely different attitude and was way more laid back. And she was finally pooping normal! This is especially nice since we use cloth diapers (aka: more flicking and less dunking!!)

The test came when my husband accidentally gave her a bite of gluten free, but not dairy free cookie. That tiny bit of butter caused a huge upset. The next day she was constantly whining and would not let me put her down. Also, the diarrhea was back full force. I put her on her little potty and she just screamed as diarrhea came out. I felt so bad for her. A few days later without any dairy and things got better again. Every time we introduce dairy into her diet, even a bite she has an upset stomach. Along with this she got a bite of whole wheat bread at a friends house accidentally and the next day she was covered in a rash. From this point on I was convinced. We haven't done any testing which can be expensive and inconclusive at times, but based on these facts I am pretty sure Scarlett is gluten/dairy intolerant. Even if we did get her tested now her testing would be inconclusive because her gut is more than likely healing from the damage gluten and dairy have caused. They would need us to reintroduce gluten/dairy into her diet to do the tests and there is no way I would ever do that. She is so incredibly miserable when any of her food gets contaminated with either one.

I have also delved into the gluten and dairy free diet. And I can tell you that I feel so much better when I don't eat gluten or dairy. My energy levels have improved tremendously! I sleep better, have a more normal bowel movement pattern (too much info I know), and my skin has started to clear up. The moment I decide to eat gluten or dairy (sometimes Caribou Coffee coolers get the best of me!) I feel sick and run down until it clears my system again. Most of the time I just stay away from it because the energy crashes and sick stomach are not worth it to me.

Chris doesn't follow the gluten/dairy free diet but everything in our house and the meals I cook are all gluten/dairy free. And because of this he is starting to notice changes in what he can eat. He can no longer tolerate any frozen meals, Chinese buffets, or any heavily gluten based meal. He does admit he feels better when he eats only what I cook.

I think some of these changes have to do with the fact that we are cutting out almost all processed foods and our bodies are functioning so much better. When we introduce the processed wheat and dairy laden foods our body goes out of wack and we feel horrible. It has been five months since we have started this process and I am so glad that we decided to take this change for my daughter and our family. It is  no longer an option for us to go back to eating the way we were.

I plan to write more about out specific diet and recipes I have found. I also want to drive into why I threw out all the white sugar in my house (gasp!) and how we are diving into clean eating.