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Posts Tagged ‘gluten’

I’m always grateful that my child doesn’t have anaphylactic, “true” food allergies (true only means that they are not IgE food allergies that provoke anaphylactic shock, not that they are not really serious in other ways).

I’ve always been grateful for that for many reasons. A slip up doesn’t have the potential to end her life quickly. I don’t have to learn about how to use an epi-pen. I’ve never felt the panic that a parent must feel when their child is in the same room as a particular, harmless-to-everyone-else-around food. I’ve never seen her lips turn red and swell. I’ve never endured a night while she tries to sleep covered in itchy hives.

Perhaps now I’m even more grateful for that fact after the place where my child is supposed to be kept safe suddenly had a breakdown in the system.

A breakdown so simple it’s aggravating. At the beginning of the school year, when I filled out my first-grader’s student health form along with parents across the country, I wrote in the section about food allergies that she cannot have dairy, artificial colors or wheat. I met with the teacher. I discussed sending her safe treats.
Last year, kindergarten, I never had an issue.

But then the past few weeks my child had been acting different. We are all the way in March… just one quarter left to the school year. She went from getting “greens” for her behavior every day to getting yellows and reds. She went from getting all 7 of her spelling words correct at the end of the week to getting 2 out of 7 correct.
She came home, unwilling to eat, emotionally fragile all the time—one night clutching her stomach and going to bed around 6:30. She missed 4 or 5 days of school in a 3 week period.

Then we got a call from the school telling us we owed a cafeteria balance, because our daughter had been eating breakfast at school for the past two weeks.

We both noticed something was off with her. We both wondered… am I giving her too much sugar? Chocolate? Not getting her to bed on time? Not spending enough time with her after the recent baby was born?

Nope. She’d simply been eating all three of the things that screw her body all up. Artificials being the worst. Dairy next. And wheat being tolerable in small amounts when she is otherwise healthy, but a bad idea when she isn’t.
She figured out, just being outgoing and curious as she always is— that if she goes to the cafeteria on her way to class in the morning she gets given a second breakfast. The teacher doesn’t know she’s there and the cafeteria seemed unaware of the fact that she can’t eat there. And they were most definitely supposed to know.

We both felt a little in shock as she listed the things she’d been eating. More than enough to make her sick, make her unable to concentrate on her school work and cranky and tummy-achy at home. First I went to her teacher.
She felt awful. The look on her face when I explained the change in her behavior let me know she did.
“Maybe I should have called you when she came in with breakfast,” she’d said.

Well, yes, she should have. She didn’t connect the dots about her not being able to eat lunch carrying over into unsafe food at breakfast. Yet, I’m not really upset at her. I hate my kid being sick being an example or anything, but I’m willing to bet it was a learning experience for this teacher that might be helpful to a mom and child in the future.

That’s not even the major breakdown in the system. Maybe that’s why I’m not that perturbed with her. One teacher can only do so much when she has 20 other kids to look after. So one kid comes in after breakfast that has some food allergies—she isn’t going to automatically realize and that sucks but I get it.

It was *really* affirming to me that I am doing the right thing with my kid’s diet when a person who knows probably next to nothing about food intolerance says “That explains so much!” If the teacher saw the difference in her too, well, that makes me feel good about how I feed her.

After the teacher, I had to go and speak with the cafeteria manager and front office. That was the real breakdown.
Apparently, my child’s student health form was never sent to the cafeteria. Her name was never added to the manager’s binder. Her intolerances were never added to her name when they pulled it up and rang up the food that makes her sick.

I’m not sure whose job that is. Was it the teacher’s? Was it the front office’s job when they got the student health form and it had food allergies listed?

I mean, really, whose fault would this be if a kid went into shock? Now– if she had that type of allergy the school would probably have an epi-pen and this mistake probably wouldn’t have happened. But probably is way too large a margin for the child that you nurture and spend your life loving and raising. What if the epi-pen stayed with the teacher, and the child, like mine, bopped on into the cafeteria in the morning before class officially started?
The system to keep her healthy and safe broke down along the way in that the cafeteria never got the forms I filled out.

The cafeteria manager took me seriously, apologized a few times, entered her allergies right on the spot, and then asked me to pay the $6 for the food my kid ate. The front office ladies seemed much less concerned. I will probably write a letter about this to the principal.

What’s unfortunate is that the food she was fed is not good food for *any* human. It has no place in a building that’s sole purpose is to foster the development of the next generation of minds that will shape our world. I have no doubt my kid is not the only one that can’t focus and has tummy aches after eating Trix and Cocoa pebbles.

What’s done is done and my kid is still recovering from the effects of two weeks of bad eating. She gets a near addictive response. She’s stolen candy at the store—snuck candy at two other houses and tried to hide it—fed her little sister something with gluten that she snuck (so now I have *two* sick children).

I think a lot of parents think that if they give their kid just a “little” of the junk—in “moderation”—then they won’t pine for it. But in actuality, for many of us, it just makes us want it more. There are biological reasons for that— that I’m not going to write about now. But I hope this saga is over. And I hope my kid gets back to herself quickly.

Not only for her, but for us as parents. Her behavior is really hard to cope with. Why on earth parents thing it’s harder to eat free of artificial stuff and anything else their kid is allergic/intolerant than to deal with regular colds, tummy aches and tantrums is truly beyond my comprehension. And it’s not like I’m a good cook. I’m not. I’ve just figured out fast ways to always make homemade food and keep us healthy. It’s just easier that way.

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I’m going to try to start blogging a bit more again. I started this blog around this time of the year when I was pregnant with Ada, so maybe it’s fitting if I write a bit more again at this time of year when I am pregnant with our third. He will be born sometime around 4-6 weeks before our second, in November instead of December.

I feel like motherhood has been a collection of joining new clubs, so to speak. First you are pregnant or with a young child, and you can kind of automatically have a new sentence or two to speak with other moms you see in a check out line. It took me about a year to realize that socializing with other moms was something I needed more than at random moments (I was in college and knew NO other mothers for a while).

So I joined the pregnancy club. Then the I-want-a-natural-birth club and had a doula. Then the breastfeeding club. The cloth diapering club. The babywearing club. Then with my second, I was even more bowled over to join the food allergy/intolerance club. And here I am again, realizing that I’ve joined a whole new club that I never saw coming. It just feels *different* having a third. Going from a four person family to a five person family just feels like you are graduating up to that next level of familyhood again. We had to get a bigger car– we will have a baby at the same time as a first grader. I have two kids at completely different stages of development… whereas when I had a 2 year old and a baby and a small car it didn’t seem that different going from one to two. And at restaurants the four person table would do just fine.

But now I’ll have three. I guess I’ll also join the I-have-a-boy club. Which I don’t believe, at this point, will be *nearly* as different as people want me to believe, but sure it’s still different. In respect to birth/babyhood, the decision to circumcise or not is probably the most different thing, but people already want to impose so many personality traits, assigned by gender, on the kid even though he isn’t even born yet. But our girls play with tools, love robots and have clothes that are not pink, so I’m not that convinced that it will be “a totally different world” as everyone wants me to believe.

Things have been different for me personally, the third time around, something I never knew to expect. As a third pregnancy, apparently— my body has enlightened me and all my mother friends and midwives have confirmed— you feel every single stretch and loosening and pregnancy symptom (related to getting bigger at least) quite a bit more. Oh, I feel *everything*. I have one strip of ab muscle that has hurt from 2-3 months pregnant… before I was showing at all. I get contractions all the time. I get the cervical pains all the time. The midwives say that the body simply has a harder time each pregnancy getting those ab muscles to stretch and the ligaments to loosen. I also have worse pains after birth as the uterus clamps back down to look forward to. I do remember it was quite a bit worse with Ada, each time she’d nurse I get cramps, and that is supposed to happen more so the third time.

It’s all worth it of course, but like all those other clubs, expecting a third kid introduced me to differences I’d never considered.

Some things this time around have been better. I’ve gained weight easier, been able to control the ridiculous heartburn easier through diet changes (knowledge afforded me by being in the food intolerance club and learning to understand how food affects me better— kids teach us so much!), no longer have low iron (probably from being gluten-free). I wish I could say the morning sickness was different but I was still sick for months, and months, and months. Having a boy didn’t seem to help that.

I’ve been in labor twice and it’s daunting to think of the third time around. But I tell myself it will happen, I can’t stop it, and soon it will be three years later and all this pregnancy/labor pain will be a memory and he’ll be talking and playing.

Some things I had thought I’d do the third time around I didn’t. I thought I’d have a homebirth if I ever had a third. I moved from hospital with the first to birth center with the second, and figured homebirth would be the next way I’d go. Part of me still mourns the thought that I won’t do it that way, however, we had some solid logical reasoning. The birth center I go to and trust is about a hour and a half away, in Chapel Hill, NC. The midwives are backed up by Chapel Hill’s hospital— so much better, more mother/baby friendly and respected than the hospital here in Fayetteville, NC. The thought of going back to the hospital here if there was a true emergency during a planned homebirth (as small of a chance as that is) was just decidedly *not* appealing to me or my husband.

I hope to make it in time to have a water birth this time, as with my second I made it to the birth center and had about 20 minutes before I gave birth.

My hopes for the third birth…. a water birth, another short labor– not so short I don’t make the drive up there, but not agonizingly long either!– and another good recovery, in the first four weeks postpartum. I’ve been blessed thus far. I get weekly chiropractic adjustments, which help with positioning the baby so he isn’t breech and keeping the mother’s labor short, with the other two I did yoga… this time I should be… and I stay as active and on my feet as I can. After the birth I breastfeed, which helps the mother’s uterus tone back down and I’ll do that again as well.

My hopes for the third baby…. oh, I don’t know, maybe he’ll pop out and sleep all night and not be colicky since I’m already gluten-free? Totally unlike the second? Well, at least I know the knowledge I gained with her may help us out!

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So much for detoxing Ada’s little taxed body this week with a strict grain-free diet and lots of fresh veggies. 

I am happy to say she finally started liking my homemade saurkraut, so she is getting good buggies (ie probiotics) in her stomach that way.  Think of yogurt but dairy-free and homemade and cheaper.

But, with relaxing the rules on eating packaged gluten free goods at high risk for cross-contamination, I was getting pretty confidant about my own tolerance levels of gluten.  I wasn’t getting the headaches and other symptoms I’d expected.  I’m fairly sure, through elimination and challenge of foods for Ada, that eggs and/or gluten cause migraines, joint pain and some other stuff for me.

So when I was eating some gluten-free breads and crackers with her that were in shared facilities with wheat, I was feeling alright.  I was surprised.

Then a few nights ago Azita didn’t finish her “Amy’s Meal”… a gluten and dairy free enchilada, that is made on shared equipment with wheat and has tofu in it (soy is widely contaminated with wheat at the field level, I believe).  I decided to finish it for her, since I missed eating them and had been doing okay with the other possibly cross contaminated stuff.  I was also feeling fine and hadn’t reintroduced soy by itself exactly, so it seemed like an okay time to trial.

Well, let me say, the lesson is learned when it comes to the difference between squeaking by okay on stuff made with wheat in the same facility and eating stuff actually on shared equipment. 

Ada’s symptoms:

She peed.  And peed.  And peed.  And peed.  This is where practicing elimination communication really helps you know when a food is affecting your kid in a negative way, by irritating the bladder.  With Azita I just wrote it off as having a “heavy wetter”.  When you do EC you see the patterns and times and amounts and what is really normal or not for your child.

She is red, rashy, uncomfortable ‘down there’– constantly pulling on her underwear.

Very constipated.

Itching the inside of her ear.

Not sleeping well.

My symptoms:

Irritable the next day.  It feels like you have PMS.

Headache for two days.

A huge increase in milk supply– in other words, the return of my over-active-letdown– which led to plugged ducts and mastitis.

I don’t know the mechanism for this, but I can say that many women with too much milk, or over-active letdown, which can make it seem like the baby is getting tummy trouble from the mother’s milk, see a big improvement when they go off of dairy, a common intolerance and allergen.  I think it’s because it stimulates the glands, and milk ducts are glands.  So I seem to have this response with eggs and/or gluten.  Also, one study showed that woman with seasonal allergies have higher rates of mastitis.  So I can only imagine that being intolerant to foods that provoke your immune system might work similarly. 

I don’t know why these symptoms to foods are so much more pronounced now than when I was younger.  But it shows that you can’t know– you can’t write off any food as “Oh I eat it all the time, it can’t be causing me symptoms” because until you don’t eat if for a good while you just don’t know.  I think my body was so bombarded by stuff it didn’t like I couldn’t see the forest for the trees– I just thought headaches every few days were normal, and that I had an overly abundant milk supply– certainly that was better than not enough milk, right?

Once your body knows you are listening, it starts to speak more clearly.

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After four collective years  of experience nursing kiddos, we are dealing with something I’ve never dealt with before.  It’s a pretty common problem, actually, just not one I really had to take care of:

Thrush.

I had too much milk, a baby who didn’t latch well, flat nipples, and eliminating foods for a nursling, but never the common little ole yeast overgrowth.

Today I was really quite upset about it.  I kept telling myself, as I drove home from the pharmacy with beautifully deep purple “Gentian Violet” to  coat Ada’s little white, patchy mouth with, that it is only thrush and to stop being so upset about it.

I’m not trying to minimize it, I’ve talked to many a mom dealing with terrible thrush outbreaks, fighting it for weeks and occasionally months.  Actually, I’d had a call from a new mother just today who was dealing with thrush, thankfully only for a week or two.

Anyway, I’m feeling better now but I know it upset me so much simply because we are dealing with so many things with this poor kid.  Her gut issues, het diet, her extensive dental work.  We are going to go through with putting her under general anesthesia , a hard choice to make when I think of my little angel and an IV in her arm.  But she only goes to the bathroom every 3 to 5 days, still throws up about once every 2 or 3 weeks… since the dentist is willing to work with the pediatric gastroenterologist and we will have her teeth taken care of and filed down to hopefully make the enamel last longer and the GI doctor will do an endoscopy, checking out the linings of her esophagus, stomach and part of the large intestine.

We won’t be adding gluten to her diet, most likely, before the scope, because we already know from symptoms that gluten is a problem for her and there is no reason in my mind to make her suffer anymore than she has.  The reason you would is that you can eat gluten for 3 to 6 weeks before the scope to damage the intestines enough to prove that gluten hurts her enough to cause celiac disease.  But we want to know why her tummy still doesn’t work as well as it should even though she is very, very gluten free.

I honestly think that adding chicken and eggs to her diet has made her chronic constipation much much worse.  This week I sprouted pinto beans, soaked sunflower seeds and tried to get her to eat most of her veggies raw.  I’ve decided I need to add more foods that are higher in fiber and nutrients that will help her gut have beneficial bacteria instead of focusing on adding more meat/animal foods.  She eats grassfed lamb and beef and nurses– she doesn’t need more additions for protien.  She obviously needs more of something else– vegetables, raw foods, probiotics, something.

Anyway.  The thrush isn’t the end of the world.  Ada has a purple mouth and the discomfort will hopefully subside.  When people tell you Gentian violet stains the kiddo purple, it is not a joke!  She looks like she eats nothing but magic markers.

I feel a bit better now after writing it all out.  It’s simple, yet complex.  She has extreme gluten intolerance.  She doesn’t do well with any grains.  She thrives on grassfed meat and vegetables.  Her stomach isn’t has healthy as is could be because of how gluten affected it in utero and for the first 5 months of her life.  We need to get her some good buggies in her tummy, probiotics, fiber, fresh foods.  Her teeth as weak but so are many celiacs.  We are lucky to live in a place where we have the choice of fixing her teeth and picking from a wide variety of foods that mourish her body the best.

We are just choosing to do the endoscopy to make sure we haven’t missed anything and we are doing the teeth because that way we don’t have to fight over flossing and brushing as much and don’t have to feel bad when one day one of these teeth abcesses and causes her pain, and then we feel like we should have done something differently.  So all those reasons make it okay to put her under, I think.  If we don’t do it, she’ll be fine.  If we do it, she’ll be fine, but we have less to worry about and may have some answers about why her stomach finds it harder to digest food, even on a gluten free diet.

Okay.  I think I’ve convinced myself now.

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I know that a lot of you guys that read my blog aren’t as worried about the foods we eat as I am.  I don’t really even consider myself a “healthnut”, because I don’t eat what many people consider “healthfoods”, like soy protien bars.  I don’t avoid animal fats or any fats (except hydrogenated and refined oils) because fat is necessary and healthy for the body.  Read Udo Erasmus Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill for more on that.

We eat whole foods.  Meat that has only been cut into pieces, not processed or flavor-added.  Vegetables fresh, only occassionally maybe frozen.  Fresh fruit.  The most processed things I eat are products that are made from rice flour–  things I bake or rice pasta.  The only thing I eat out of a box is rice pasta or couscous on occasion.

Of course a lot of this has been driven by Ada’s food intolerances, but we were already of the mind that the food we eat has more to do with our health than genetics or germs, and so her sensitive gut and immune system just amplified my point of view.

So, I’m not trying to sound like a judgemental, snooty, health nut, but it actually turns my stomach that someone at a park gave Azita Combos and she ate them.  When I read the ingredients of those things it drives me nuts.  I was talking to a Fayetteville chick named Anca the other day and she said that she hadn’t seen a supermarket until she was 13, growing up in Romania, and that it doesn’t feel right to her that food should come out of a box.  It doesn’t seem like food.

I grew up on the boxed junk, but I feel the same way.  It doesn’t feel like food because it is barely food!  So that rant aside, there is a bigger issue.

Why would someone give a kid food without asking their parents?  But it happens all the time.  Before Ada was born it wasn’t as big of a deal, but it was still annoyed that people, some who knew how we felt about artificially colored candy with corn syrup, and some who didn’t would give Azita stuff all the time without asking.

People have serious control issues when it comes to giving treats to kids.  So I was running after Ada and Azita wasn’t with this mom for more than a minute before she popped the food in her mouth.  And we were in a decently contained fenced in area— it’s not like Azita wasn’t being watched.  I talked to the mom, chatted with her, explained that the baby is very sensitive to gluten and dairy and so I’m sorry if Azita asked for her food, she sometimes gets excited about something she knows we don’t bring in the house.

And then mom said, “No, don’t worry about it, we brought enough to share.” So I assume Azita asked first but I don’t even really know.  And I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, but what if it had been peanuts (or any other substance a kid is allergic to– peanuts actually aren’t more common than others, they are less common but get the most press) to a kid in risk of experiancing anaphylaxsis!

I know the mom is trying to be nice, but plain and simple, it isn’t safe or considerate to give a kid food without asking. 

If it had been Ada I would have 2 weeks of horrible sleep, skin bumps and diarrhea on my hands.  I’ve gotten the looks, especially from women who look more like their kids are grown, middle-aged and older, that I’m depriving my kids when I ask them not to give it them.  But that’s a whole other issue— why is food *that* important, that it’s a deprivation, when there are SOOOO many things you can eat in lieu of something else.

I don’t in general like confrontation and when I need to tell someone how I feel and I know they won’t agree, I get nervous.  My heart beats, I slightly shake, my voice gets quivery.

One time a lady at Sam’s giving out samples gave Azita some junky pre-made pasta dish after we had gone gluten free (but it had corn syrup and MSG and preservatives in it, so it wasn’t even the gluten I was worried about).  I threw it out, gently of course, but she was still upset. 

We had moved on at that point, so I told Payman I’d be back in a minute and went and told the woman that she shouldn’t ever give a kid food without asking the parents.

“I was standing right there and you had no reason to hand it to her instead!”, I said.

She argued with me and said no there isn’t anything allergic in there.  Which is abot the dumbest statement because a person can be allergic to anything– the top 8 allergens are just the most common.  You can be allergic to honeydew melon and sulfites and polyester, even.

I picked up the box, showed her the “wheat starch” in the ingredients and said “My kid is in tears now and its because of you,” and walked off.

It takes alot to make me that confrontational.

Long story short, just friggin’ ask the parents.  Sheesh.

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If you haven’t tried Nana’s Dairy, egg and gluten free cookies you are missing out.  They cost about $2.oo at the health food store (I go to the Apple Crate, a local store) but man are they awesome.  Having a kid with food allergies lets me justify spending money on expensive treats that cater to being non-whatever-it-is-you-can’t-eat.

I love it! 

I love making my own cookies as well.  I’ve been in the habit of making homemade cookies, muffins, waffles (and then freezing them so we have our own easy to heat up breakfasts) and pancakes, since we are so hyper-healthy-nutty about sugar and processed packaged foods.  

We’ve used or developed our recipes to use just honey or agave as sweeteners, or when I feel like it, atleast the organic “evaporated cane juice” crystals instead of refined, whitened sugar.  It’s still sugar, but better for our deal mother earth since its not processed or pesticided.

I always get so annoyed at those commercials defending high fructose corn syrup that say “its got the same calories as sugar” and is all natural and all that.  Calories isn’t what makes food healthy.  It’s how the body metabolizes and uses it.  But anyway, I’m not a scientist and don’t have time to research and prove those points before the two kiddos wake up. 

Suffice it to say, I like to keep my sweeteners as close to the earth as possible, and any sweetener that has to be derived and processed, like HFCS or white sugar, is less good for the environment because the energy taken to produce it is more.  And the closer any food is to its origin, like honey, the better it is for you.

So I’m loving the health food treats and my new excuse to buy them!  It makes up for no mozarella cheese.

I’ve haven’t been doing too much home baking these days though, with the kids and all, so I guess I’m not as eco-frindly as I could be!  Homemade food is better for the environment since you don’t waste packaging or even have to spend the energy to recycle the boxes.

For Mother’s Day, Payman made me dairy-free, gluten-free pancakes.  They were quite good.  Definitely a different flavor.  A stronger flavor, because the gluten free flour we got uses chickpea flour.  But then its got to be healthier for you, I figure, since its full of protein.  I usually do the muffins and cookies, P makes the pancakes and waffles.  He’s the breakfast lover and I’m the snacky type.

Then last night, we winged our way through gluten free biscuits.  Not bad either.  We had to google a recipe half-way through to salvage it though.  Biscuits really need the gluten to hold together, so it turns out adding an egg will help. 

It’s not the same taste, but it’s not bad either. 

Ada isn’t gluten intolerant as far as we know.  She’s doing very well with the no dairy and soy.

We are cutting gluten, or at least experimenting with it, because my husband has such bad psoriasis, has always had joint pain, and feels like he is more tired than he should be.  Since being introduced to the food allergy world we are really paying a little more attention to what we eat and how it might affect us.

We started reading about gluten, and while most of us think of these severe abdominal pains and problems associated with people that can’t have gluten, it seems like more and more people are finding out they have a mild sensitivity to it and it causes smaller problems, like the ones I mentioned.

Gluten-free baking takes a little of the fun out of it though.  I love to eat biscuit dough, batter, cookie dough— everything before it’s baked.  My husband thinks it’s disgusting.  It’s a terrible habit from childhood and I love it.  But gluten-free biscuit dough is not the same at all!!  That chickpea flavor was strong!  It has to cook to become a nice, well-rounded flavor in a way that white flour just doesn’t.

Was there a point in all this rambling?

I had a great Mother’s day.

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