So here's our story...
Last year, one of my kids was having some problems with constipation. Actually, it was that big embarrassing word: encopresis, which basically means so constipated that poop was leaking out into her underwear frequently. She was also having stomach aches on an almost daily basis. We had taken her to see our chiropractor/ kinesiologist several different times. The idea of trying a gluten-free diet came up, but I was always way too intimidated to try. Finally, after one particular doctor visit I just knew we had to do something. We got in the car to head home and I decided I couldn't give her the bunny graham snacks that were in my diaper bag. I had no idea what I would feed her, but we would just have to figure it out.
Did I mention that I was 34 weeks pregnant with our fourth baby? It wasn't the ideal time to try something new, but I didn't feel like we had a choice at that point. In the beginning we relied quite a bit on store bought gluten-free products. The other girls had "normal" food and Lucy had a gluten-free version. After six weeks of this, we decided to take her off of dairy as well as gluten. It wasn't until then that we really began to see improvements. That also made the grocery shopping even harder.
Isaac was born and after a few weeks started to get really cranky and colicy. One Saturday when he was three weeks old, I was making gluten free/ dairy free pancakes for Lucy and regular pancakes for the rest of the family. I decided to eat Lucy's along with her, and began my own gluten free/ dairy free trial. Isaac quickly improved, and after a while I figured out that I needed to eliminate soy as well. (It would make him puke if I had even the tiniest bit of soy in something.) There was such a dramatic change in him; I wish I had tried dietary changes with my girls when they were young!
It would be deceiving if I did not say that this was all extremely hard! I cried many times because I had no. idea. what to make for dinner. Being super vigilant about our diets, reading labels, not being able to eat out anywhere... it was all very challenging. Somehow we kept going. I searched Pinterest for recipes to try. We found new favorites; I put together a new recipe binder. I felt terrible telling my daughter that she couldn't have a cupcake or a french fry, but I did my best to come up with our own substitutes. We make french fries at home, bake donuts in our special donut pan, and bring along cupcakes to parties when needed. It also made it easier on her that I was gf/df too.
In January of this year I decided to go ahead and put Julia and Esther on a gf/df diet and just make our whole household gf/df. I wanted to see what health effects it would have on them. Esther had some severe dry skin bumps on her arms and legs (that have since gotten much better). It is also easier for me to just make everything gf/df instead of trying to make two different versions. Julia feels kind of important telling people that she is gluten free now too.
Which brings us to now. Where will we go from here? I don't know. Its tough staying gf/df, and some days I just want to eat a piece of pizza. Its slowly becoming our new normal though. Members of our family have definitely seen health improvement with the diet, and as challenging as it is, I think its something we need to continue. I still struggle with the ins and outs of this - should I let them eat french fries? or should I keep them strictly gluten free? Lucy's stomach is still very sensitive. She's had some episodes of throwing up after eating certain things. We've not done any testing on her, although we have considered it. Eventually we may experiment with adding gluten or cultured dairy back into our diets. I'm thrilled that we've been able to meet the challenge so far and we'll just continue taking small steps from here.
Writing this post I realized that its been an entire year! I never thought that I would be able to "go gluten free", let alone survive a whole year of it. We made it through Christmas, family parties, holiday food, and more. I am definitely still trying to figure this all out but later this week I will share some of our resources and favorite recipes with you.
Are you gluten free/ dairy free? Just starting out? Do you have questions for me about it?