(Note: I’m not a health professional. I’m simply sharing what has worked for us.)
GLUTEN is a mixture of two proteins; present in all wheat-based products, many other grain products and countless processed foods and sauces etc.
You will find it in most processed foods, and of course all breads, pastas, cookies etc.
I’ve been toying with ‘Gluten-Free’ living since my early twenties. When our eldest son was 8, we took him off gluten and saw a significant improvement in his ability to focus and contain his often extreme mood swings. He had been previously diagnosed with ADD and Aspergers Syndrome and after 6 years of a steady ‘clean’ diet, he no longer fits the Aspergers diagnosis! A couple of years later, my husband Jeff cut out gluten and it kick started him on a journey of loosing over 100lbs. Jeff is now a Crossfit trainer and completed the Isra-Man triathlon in Israel last year!
But we still weren’t fully gluten free… I’d never been one to fill my kids with Goldfish crackers and PB&J sandwiches but the gluten element was still very present in our diets…
Last year we took ALL 3 BOYS (and ourselves) fully off of gluten and we are not looking back! They are all doing much better in school, no longer running to the bathroom for a #2 right after lunch and have MUCH fewer angry outbursts and mood swings. They are however still very busy and bouncy little boys. No amount of diet change can control that one!
Wondering if you may have a gluten allergy? Here’s a list of 10 signs you may need to make some dietary shifts:
1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation. I see the constipation particularly in children after eating gluten. (Our two older boys had this)
2. Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms). This tends be as a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut. (Our eldest son had this)
3. Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten. (All of us related to this one!)
4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma or multiple sclerosis.
5. Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feelings of being off balance.
6. Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility.
7. Migraine headaches (this was a huge one for me… after cutting out dairy too i now have very few headaches. I used to have up to 6 per week)
8. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses simply indicate, your conventional doctor cannot pin point the cause of your fatigue or pain.
9. Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips.
10. Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and ADD. (This was MAJOR for us.. all of these things were present in our eldest son, and have lessened with the change of diet)
We do take them out of the occasional burger, or pizza, but gluten is no longer the staple of their meals as it is in the regular ‘kid’ diet of mac’n’cheese, chicken nuggets, oreo cookies, and graham crackers.
(They also eat s’mores at Grandma’s house… don’t worry, they are getting SOME traditional food!)
The change has meant I have to spend a little more time getting creative with lunchboxes and snacks. We do eat oats, rice and some quinoa. But mostly it’s meant that they have actually been eating full meals, not just filling up on snacks! Check out the Kiddo section for lunchbox ideas and gluten-free alternatives to some cookies etc.
We use alternative flours such as almond, coconut (for Paleo cooking) and I also use spelt, oat, and rice. These are not all totally gluten-free but are not as processed or stored for as long as wheat… so they don’t seem to irritate us quite as much.
Below are two links I’ve found super helpful:
How to go Gluten-Free:
What’s the Deal with Gluten: