Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gluten and dairy free - issues and blessings

This will be a bit graphic. It is stated here to help readers who might be wondering about this diet be aware of potential issues and benefits,
A few weeks after Gabe became totally gluten and dairy free he began to have diarrhea. He had very messy accidents at school and at home. This took me by surprise. Gabe had struggled with constipation for years. Within a few days of starting the diet I thought that maybe he was becoming more regular. This was a bit hard to tell for sure because at 11 years of age I did not go into the bathroom with him unless needed. Yes I still had to help him with baths and sometime other issues, but I was trying to respect his privacy if possible. He actually did not seem to mind my presence there. Because of his delays his mother had also frequently accompanied him to the bathroom for various reasons.
As I stated - the diarrhea took me by surprise. It also surprised Gabe. One day I found him in the bathroom trying to clean up after a bad accident. This was one of the first ones. He was frightened that he would be in trouble - mostly because potty training had to be strictly enforced only a few years before. He had been made to scrub out his poopy under ware when he made bad choices. Now he was desperately trying to clean up after himself. He had tried to dump the poop out of his under ware but it just wouldn't come. He shook them vigorously. The result was poop every where but where it should be. It was all over him, up the wall, curtains and even a spot on the ceiling. It was smeared every where.
I asked him to just hold still while I surveyed the situation. He began to cry and shout trying to defend himself. I needed to figure out where to begin with the clean up. I wanted to put him in the tub to wait while I cleaned the room. Then he could get bathed and get out into a clean environment. He was so upset that he was not listening to anything I said. He just shouted nonsense arguments at me. it took forever, but we finally got cleaned up.
Once he was clean and much calmer, I stood him in front of me for a talk. I told him that he was not in trouble this time. I asked him if his belly was feeling different than it used to feel. He nodded yes. I said, "things have been rumbling around inside of your belly. Maybe you thought it was gas - you know, a fart, but then it wasn't. You are a big boy who is too big to poop in your pants. You need to just head for the bathroom every time you feel that strange feeling. Get right on the pot and then figure out if it is gas or something more. Pretty soon you will be able to figure out when you need to get there." Sometimes I tell Gabe things and I feel as though I might as well talk to the man in the moon. Other times it really seems to go in. This time it seemed as if he understood.
He had accidents a few more times over the next few weeks. Soon his system seemed to become much more regular. The belly ache complaints that had been so frequent before the diet and through the 'cleaning out' process slowly disappeared.
The blessings and benefits of this were that he truly seemed to feel better. His activity level picked up and he lost his chubbiness. He became a nice fit weight for his height. His grouchiness eased up some. Unfortunately, it has not totally disappeared. He can still be very grouchy and rude, but most of the time he is not.
I had taken Gabe back to see the doctor that he had seen many times before he moved out of state. We went for his first check up in early March, a few weeks after he moved in with us. I tried to talk with her about the gluten and dairy free diet. She said that she had heard of it. She would not really talk about it. When we went back 3 months later Gabe had lost the weight. She questioned me extensively about this. I told her about the diet. She wanted to know if he was getting a balance of other things. I assured her that he ate lots of beans and rice as well as vegetables and fruits. I fact, we had less food battles than previously. I should say - there were no food battles. I also mentioned that he had gone from a couch potato in a tiny apartment to an active child in a 2 story house with a big yard and several acres of woods to run through. We had also begun to get back on TV time as the winter snows melted and the nice weather appeared.
I was amazed at how well Gabe accepted his new diet. I told him that it would fix his belly aches. He did mention missing Pop Tarts and Mac & cheese. We did not eat any of this in front of him. However, we do belong to a camping club that goes 'backpacking' (1 mile to the same place each time) on weekend a month. We usually take Pop Tarts. Gabe, Fred and I were in the store shopping for food for the weekend. I very quickly spelled POP TART to Fred. Gabe shouted, "Pop Tarts," before Fred even figured out what I was trying to tell him. The irony of this was that Fred was an adult that had been reading since he was a toddler, and Gabe was an 11 year old with barely a kindergarten reading level. I guess it depends on what matters to you. We did not get Pop Tarts. We have slipped them along since then, but never eaten them in his presence.
I know of no substitutes for gluten free Pop Tarts, but we have found rice pasta and bean cheese that Gabe really likes. He gets that from time to time. The cheese costs about twice the price of other cheese and is not in most major grocery chains. I have to go to a specialty shop to get it. The rice pasta is carried in one of the stores that I shop regularly. It also is about twice the price of other pasta.

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