Today is a follow-up post on something that has been a huge change for our family. I told you guys about the struggles we have had with Nahla’s persistent tummy issues and that a few months back we decided to try going gluten and dairy-free. We were grasping at straws hoping that something would change for her. Even though her primary care doctor wasn’t exactly on board, we chose to go with our gut and give it a try. The alternative was that our baby would have to continue taking a laxative, every day, and we were not ok with that!
I am SO EXCITED to report, that so far, we have had AMAZING results. I could not be happier. I will be honest, it has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination. There is a big part of me that can not wait to tell her doctor about all the things that have improved since we decided to try this. She was adamant about the fact that Nahla had no allergies, and that her tummy troubles were behavioral/physiological. I mean really, ugh, such BS!! Her amazing improvement across every facet of her life would beg to differ with that conclusion.
Anyway, I digress.
Our Gluten Free Journey
It has been about two months since we began, and the best news of all, is that she is finally off the laxative!!! Amen! I mean, really, that alone is a huge accomplishment. Before we decided to adjust her diet, she would go DAYS without going to the bathroom. Unless, of course, she took the dreaded laxative. Since we started focusing on a more holistic approach with her diet, we have been able to transition her to just taking a magnesium supplement. The goal is to get her to a good enough place digestively, that she won’t even need to take that.
It may be in my head, but she also just seems to be in a way better mood… like, all the time. She has fewer meltdowns, and in general, seems less moody. When I think about it – if my stomach was always hurting, I wouldn’t be in the best mood either. So I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising. But, either way, this is amazing news in our family.
Gluten Free Challenges
As with anything new, there have been plenty of challenges. Implementing an elimination diet is hard enough as a grown adult, never mind as a 4-year-old. The most difficult thing has been eating out and activities like birthday parties, festivals, playdates, etc… I mentioned in my first post, that she was really into it, in the beginning. It was like a fun game/adventure for her. However, two months in I find her asking me – “mama, when am I NOT going to be gluten and dairy-free??” Ugh, it’s heartbreaking really. It’s hard to explain to her because it’s not like she has a deathly allergy like some people have with things like peanuts. Her tummy just does not react well to gluten/dairy. I spoke to the nutritionist about it, and she strongly advised me that we do not add any of these foods back into her diet. Because intolerances to these foods are often autoimmune related – it could be a life-long journey for her. I have to remind myself that it’s easier to do it now when she is 4, rather than waiting until she is 7 and then having to explain to her at a bday party why she can’t have the pizza that everyone else is having. I don’t want her to ever feel isolated, so it is a double-edged sword for sure. In the end I think the sooner this is a normal part of her life, the sooner it will feel less like a punishment.
So, anyway, we are dealing with it… and learning a lot along the way. With restaurants it just takes a little more advance research. I can usually find a place that has gluten free pasta, and then we just make sure they only use olive oil and salt/pepper – which she likes, thankfully. . We have a go-to-pizza-place that does gluten free crusts, and has vegan cheese. We love it there 🙂 This new adventure has also been a great opportunity for me to get adventurous with my baking, solo and as an activity with the girls. We have been making some super yummy snacks and desserts 🙂 I like to get creative with her lunches and the teachers at school have been great with letting me know anytime they are having a special treat for a birthday so I can pack something for her so she doesn’t feel left out. I think as an adult this diet is much easier to deal with. Let’s be real, most kids LOVE all the crap junk food that is loaded with Gluten and Dairy! It’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality. Ava hates the diet, but we are trying to convert her as much as we can. If I am keeping it 100%, I totally give in to her sometimes. She just doesn’t understand and it doesn’t make her sick – so its hard to enforce all the time. I tried to remove all the dairy/gluten from our house, but some things she just refuses to eat. While I want us all to be supportive for Nahla, I also don’t want Ava to feel like I am punishing her for something that isn’t her fault. AHHH – the twin struggle is so real. So, the journey continues, and overall I am so happy that Nahla is feeling better. This is by far the most important thing! I think she will get used to it as time goes on, and hopefully, it will bother her less. I will continue to keep you guys posted on what’s to come.
Feel free to share all of the kid-friendly gluten free and dairy free advice you’ve got. Don’t be shy – I need all the help I can get in this department:)