Going Dairy & Gluten Free

by Courtney El-Ghoul
My Nahla

All we want in life is for our kids to be the happiest and healthiest they can be. Right? This week’s post is not only about our first couple weeks cutting out all dairy and gluten, but about the winding road, we have been on pretty much since Nahla was a baby… to get to this point, of doing an elimination diet with a four-year-old.

So here we go, I’ll start from the beginning.

Nahla’s digestive issues started early on. She was a breastfed baby, but she would regularly go a few days without pooping; which is not normal. Eventually, our pediatrician told me I would need to supplement with Enfamil Reguline, so we did. That worked for the most part. We were first-time parents and thought – “Ok, that wasn’t great but now we are past it.” Unfortunately, we were wrong. As we moved to solid foods, and then into drinking cow’s milk after her first birthday it just seemed like the constipation was getting worse. We knew this wasn’t normal, but she was so little – what could be wrong? 

I would call the doctor, and they would tell me to increase fiber, tons of prunes. They would basically tell us to pump her full of prune or pear juice, always the same advice, but it never worked. Of course, she loved cows milk, and because she didn’t have a known allergy they encouraged me not to take it away. As a twin, she was already small so I just wanted her to keep growing. Plus, we are taught to just listen to our pediatricians, so we did. Guys, I felt so helpless. We even tried several different pediatricians and saw multiple Gastroenterologists. They started to tell us we could try Miralax, and very hesitantly I did. She hated it, and I really didn’t want her taking it. I mean, who WANTS their child to have to be on a laxative? Yes, she started having bowel movements… But, does she now have to take a laxative for the rest of her life? Why don’t any of these doctors have an answer to Why” is my tiny girl constantly constipated? The bottom line, the problem was never solved while working with any of these doctors. 

When I started potty training, it just got even worse. My nightmare. 

It is the absolute worst feeling to know your child is in pain and have no idea how to help them. 

So we went back to more doctors. Because that’s what you are supposed to do. Right? 

We did a blood test to check her thyroid, and to look for celiac. We had an x-Ray to see her colon. We even took her to a counselor to discuss if she had anxiety about pooping, or just in general. My tiny girl, could she really have anxiety?! Her life is pretty darn peaceful – just the consideration that this might be it was such a hard mom moment. All of these tests were coming back within the normal range… and she didn’t seem to be showing any signs of anxiety. One of the most confusing parts about the process up until this point was that feeling of relief I would feel when they would say “Nope, he thyroid looks great” or “She doesn’t seem to be struggling with any anxiety poop-related, or not” … these are GOOD THINGS!? But, that feeling of relief is immediately followed by the return of sadness. Knowing you still, haven’t found a solution to your little one’s pain.

Doctors, specialists, no one seemed to know what to do, they just want to tell me it’s behavioral, but how can a stress-free baby have that much control?? I mean, really? It’s been going on since she was so small. I understand that if a child has experienced a painful poop, they would want to hold it. However, I just don’t believe she could hold onto that kind of trauma from infancy into her fourth year. 

The crazy thing is her twin sister is an extremely picky eater. I basically have to force-feed or trick her to eat fruits and veggies. (the force-feeding is obviously an exaggeration, ha) But, no-joke Ava is carb obsessed, and yet has no digestive issues! I mean Nahla eats so much fruit and loves veggies. By all of the doctors’ recommendations and standard measurements of health, she should be having the healthiest bowel movements in the house. I know I shouldn’t compare them, but with this issue, it’s so hard not to. 

Cut to, a few months ago…

I have had enough with listening to these doctors! There has to be something else going on that they are unaware of and/or don’t want to take the time to figure out. So, we are seeing a nutritionist. The first steps are removing all dairy and gluten. We are also ordering this stool analysis test. Our nutritionist feels it will be very beneficial to see what else will show up. As her mom, I just want to do what’s best for her. I know any mother can relate to this. I want so badly to figure out what is causing this, and for her to just feel better.

It’s only been 2 weeks, but so far Nahla is taking it well. I have found some great gluten and dairy substitutes that she really enjoys 🙂 We are doing it as a family, to support her. so stay tuned as this is going to be a journey for all of us. Especially for Ava, our little carb-monster, haha.

What about you guys, any experience with chronic constipation or food intolerances for your littles? Any gluten free dairy free foods/brands you love?

I will of course continue to update you guys on our journey!



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