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Why We’re Gluten Free – Food Intolerances in Infancy and Beyond | Killer b. Designs

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Why We’re Gluten Free – Food Intolerances in Infancy and Beyond

*This post is completely unrelated to DIY, homesteading, aquaponics, or pretty much everything else I cover on my blog. Today is a little more personal, and hopefully resounds with other parents or food intolerance sufferers who are a bit fed up with the blasé attitude of conventional medicine toward nutrition.*

About this time last year, I was suspicious about food issues with my 6 month old baby, and decided (against my pediatrician’s wishes) to do an elimination diet. Even with Caroline being exclusively breast fed, she had horrible eczema and was just so miserable all the time. She was the classic “colicky” baby. Oh, it was okay if you held her in just the right way, being sure to never ever sit down and constantly pace. She could nap if she was laying on your chest. Sometimes maybe in the swing. Anyway, my mama senses were tingling, so I gave up dairy and gluten. Dairy because I am mildly intolerant so I was suspicious she would be too, and gluten for it’s reputation of causing skin and digestive issues. My pediatrician told me I was wasting my time, that the eczema was genetic and in no way diet related, and I just had to go get prescription steroid creams for my tiny little baby with tissue thin skin and accept that pharmaceuticals were the only answer for her. I declined, and thought, what could it hurt, it’s only food. If I can’t ditch conventional bread and pasta for a few weeks for the sake of my child’s health, what kind of person would I be?! I had more self-discipline than that! So I researched what gluten was and where it was hiding, then completely cut it out to test my theory. Here is our before and after shot, taken 30 days before and after cutting gluten from my diet.

gluten free before and after

Amazing difference, right? It was like this all over her body, but her face was the absolute worst. Now her skin is clear and smooth, with barely a rough patch to be seen. Needless to say, I switched pediatricians. However, my new doctor wasn’t thoroughly convinced about my personal findings. I can’t say that I blame him, because neither was I. I was acting on suspicion, and though it seemed I was right, I prefer to know, you know? I didn’t like depriving her of practically an entire food group simply on whim, as it felt. I didn’t like people judging me for my “trendy” eating styles either. But my doctor kept brushing my concerns aside. “Just avoid gluten until she’s three, and then we can reassess.” That seemed like a very long time for guessing, considering we were at her 1 year well check. I was also suspicious about tomatoes, given her face looked like this whenever she got ketchup/bbq/pasta sauce on her skin:

tomato intolerance skin reaction

He told me it was just because it was an acidic food, that she would grow out of it eventually. She would be fine eating tomatoes, no big deal. I wasn’t entirely convinced. So, I pushed for a few months and got him to agree to an allergy test. Well three vials of blood taken later, they tested 13 measly food items. It did not include testing for celiac or tomatoes. The only item of concern was wheat, which showed no reaction. So, based on the “all clear” phone call I received, I started feeding her (and myself, since I still eliminated gluten in my own diet because of breastmilk) gluten and tomatoes again. Over the weeks that followed, she became incredibly crabby, throwing tantrums over the slightest provocation. Things like a toy falling over would cause her to throw herself on the ground and scream unconsolably. She had a low grade fever more days than she didn’t, around 99.3 degrees. Her digestion was off. She was increasingly tired but slept poorly. Many of these things could be explained away – she was teething, she had mild RSV, she was going through developmental changes emotionally and physically, so she could just be tantruming, etc. But again, I just knew something was off. More than just conventional “baby-ness”. So I talked to Kelsey of Texas Total Health (who I’ve been working with during our nutritional transition and is amazing and wonderful and CALL HER NOW!) She mentioned the Pinner Test, which tests for IgG reactions (vs IgE reactions that show allergies) and can signal food intolerances. These delayed immune responses can take up to 3 days to manifest, and last for as long as you keep eating the foods, which make it tough to pinpoint. They can cause headaches, digestive problems, grumpiness, and more. I signed up right away, and with one measly finger prick Caroline was tested on 200 different foods. And guess what she had a reaction to??

pinner test food intolerance test

To say I was not surprised would be an understatement. I was actually rather relieved to finally have real answers, versus my suspicions. And to have someone listen to me, agree that things didn’t sound or look “normal”, and to help me find those answers. I’m not sure if it’s a problem with most pediatricians to dismiss nutrition’s impact on health, but considering my batting average is a big fat ZERO in that department right now, I’m not feeling very confident. It actually enrages me, to think about how miserable my daughter would be feeling if I had just followed their advice and not looked further into the issue on my own. It’s certainly had me second guessing quite a few different things, and looking around for another pediatrician who will actually listen and address the underlying issue, instead of just throwing prescriptions at the symptoms. Caroline is only 17 months old, so it won’t be a tough transition to take out tomatoes and gluten. I did decide to have a gluten-free home, however, because I don’t want to struggle with the “But daddy is eating crackers, I want some too!” issues. I want solidarity, so she never has to feel like she’s alone and unsupported. It’s actually much harder for me to eliminate tomatoes than gluten! For now, I’m going to research tomato-free ketchup and sauces, and just limit dishes I cook with them, keeping them mostly in mom and dad meals and letting the kids eat modified versions. I’m still trying to get a handle on things, and come up with a game plan for how we’ll be cooking without two pretty major players in US kitchens. It’s challenging, but it could be SO much worse, and I am grateful that we have such a minor struggle. Gluten-free is practically a fad now, so it’s easy to find affordable supplies for baked goods, and cheat every now and then with pre-made crackers or breads. I am looking forward to the challenge. Especially now that I know my baby girl feels healthy, happy, and whole.

 

15 comments

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  1. tokara79@gmail.com

    Hello Brooke,
    I am reading your story and it feels like I was reading mine. My boy is now 2 years and 9 months and is clear of eczema. The reason why, is because I also didn’t believed in steroids and I believed that something was causing it . I realised that it was dairy. I eliminated it and the eczema cleared up. Then I went to do the allergy test and it came clear on dairy so I was told that he can have it back on the menu. But what I didn’t know is that allergies are not the same as food intolerance. Unfortunately, the doctor I went to did not know that either, therefore my boy flared up badly. At this point his system was so weak that he was flaring up to most of the things we were giving him. He was admitted to hospital as he was so bad. He wasn’t even 2 then. With no recognition from doctors, I eliminated all the foods that I thought he was sensitive to. Dairy, gluten, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwi, oranges,soya etc. He has been free of eczema since July last year. His dermatologist could not believe that he is not suffering from eczema any more !!! We couldn’t believed how soft and moist his skin is. In order to strengthen his digestive system, he was off sugar as well Now he is back on gluten ( we did a celiac test) , and we slowly re-introduced dairy, he is eating spaghetti and drinking orange juice with his breakfast. I buy organic meat, have my own little veggie garden, make my own bread. I believe that all it is caused by the rubbish food we are subjected to. I just wish doctors were more educated on food intolerance. I wish you and your little girl all the best. Anna

    1. Brooke

      Thank you for sharing Anna! I’m so glad your son is feeling better, it’s horrible to watch them suffer so. Those sneaky allergy tests! I hope intolerances start to gain the respect they deserve, instead of all the scoffing and judgment from people who seem to take modified diets as some sort of personal slight. I’m right there with you on the whole “convenience food is making us sick” deal. These food “products” are what’s causing all the problems!

  2. Melanie

    Good on you for trusting your mummy instincts!! I’m so pleased that you finally have some answers and can work on implementing the changes for you and your family!

    1. Brooke

      Thanks so much Melanie! I’m so glad my little lady is finally finding some relief

  3. Liz

    It’s so amazing what an impact a diet change could have!! I think we live such busy lives that we forget how each thing we put on our skin or into our bellies can affect us. My boss had IBS symptoms for years and years before she finally determined (at age 32) that she’s allergic to gluten. Good for you for catching this yourself so quickly, it just highlights how there are some major blind spots in the usual approach of American healthcare.

  4. Linda Baldock

    Gluten intolerance manifests itself in many ways, so I’m glad you decided to eliminate this from your family’s diet. It may be affecting others in your family in very subtle ways. Congratulations for standing up to your doctors and researching what will be in your family’s best interest. Best wishes and good luck.

  5. Hannah

    Just wanted to throw this out there…for what it is worth. I realize that what may work for one person/family might not work for another, so I hope this is not considered bad form. I used to have issues with dairy, eggs, poultry and a host of animal allergies. I did NAET and resolved most of them, although I still can’t pet a cat and then itch my eye. However, I can be in the same room with a cat, eat a bowl of ice cream and have scrambled eggs! My family has had marvelous luck resolving food/enviromental intolerances through NAET. Perhaps there is a certified practitioner in your area. Best of luck in your food journey!
    p.s. love the aquaponic system evolve. I was thrilled to see you start this. I could not quite get my mind wrapped around how I would go about starting a system. Now I can learn from observation!!

    1. Brooke

      Thank you Hannah! I will definitely look into it. I read that many intolerances can be “healed” through different diets. So far I’m just trying to get a handle on minimizing exposure. Lots of “nomato” sauce recipes!

  6. Debbie

    Those pictures are incredible. I can’t believe the difference. I don’t have children but I am going to have to remember this for the future!

  7. Allie @ Everyday Adventures

    I’m glad she’s feeling better. But yeesh, no clue how to avoid tomato products! I hope you find some good alternatives and don’t have to permanently eliminate ’em.

    1. Brooke

      Thanks Allie! I’ve been browsing pinterest for ideas, there are actually more than I had hoped for!

  8. Katie

    The differences in pictures is so crazy, but not as crazy as how many pediatricians just write off symptoms and tell parents to just deal with it. I wonder how many people have problems later in life because they never had food intolerances addressed when they were younger. I for sure always had some trouble with my stomach here or there, which is odd considering I grew up in a middle class household with clean food all the time. Just weird!

  9. Trudi

    It amazes me how doctors ignore a mother’s instinct these days. I’ve found that there is no bedside manner or respect for a “layperson’s” opinion anymore. My daughter is a young mother and more times than I can count, grandma has come in and wrangled with the pediatrician about treatment and go-forward decisions for the grandson who has chronic asthma. It is so frustrating. We are expected to sit back and accept the diagnosis and prescribed treatment as gospel without question. I’m proud of you for your diligence in seeking out the real issue. A mother knows when something is “off” with her child. I just wish the medical community would return to appreciating our input. When my children were young (20+ years ago) my pediatrician really listened to me, and we made team decisions. Good luck!

    1. Brooke

      “We are expected to sit back and accept the diagnosis and prescribed treatment as gospel without question.” YES! Exactly this. Obviously I value their education and experience or else I wouldn’t go to them for help on health matters. But does that mean I’m somehow so inept when it comes to my own body, or my family’s? I just don’t get it! I’ve seen so much of the “You don’t like my opinion? FINE! Get out of my office and never come back.” attitude when it comes to medical treatment. My first ob was like that, and it’s no surprise her practice closed later. Now it seems the pediatricians I’m finding are similar. Why can’t we work together on health, seeing as one of us is inhabiting the body, and the other is simply observing?

  10. Theresa

    So I Saved this post to come back at a later point and review. Well last night it was. After having my son off dairy for about 4 months I overlooked a meal and boy did he pay for it. Miserable night of him screaming and arching just like when he was a baby. Broke my heart! I did the elimination diet with him when we were nursing too. Against my doctors wishes of course but it made him so much happier. The allergy test we took also came back negative for any allergies. He’s never had any skin issues from food but such a sensitive tummy and digestion. I hate to see him screaming in pain.
    So sorry to be blunt but a quick google search of the Pinner Test and all I’ve seen are at home kits for $500. Is this what you paid? I will keep looking try and find someone who does this in Alaska. I have an appt with our Pediatrician this afternoon. I’m not holding my breathe he has any clue about this. Ugh why does it have to be so hard to fight for our families health?!

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