It started with constant stomach aches and lots of strep throat. It continued with more stomach pain which got so bad that my son sometimes had to stay home from school. The traditional Miralax route was not working and nothing else seemed to be wrong. So we made a gastro-intestinal appointment and went to a well-respected doctor who is both accomplished pediatrician and holistic practitioner.
After loads of testing for food allergies and sensitivities, for Celiacs and numerous other things, we found out a lot about what’s going on inside Daniel’s body. We know which vitamins and minerals he needs more of and which are fine. We know that he’s got an extreme sensitivity to lamb, cauliflower and vanilla which means no more of my famous lamb-cauliflower cookies.
While Daniel does not have Celiacs disease, he is among the growing number of people who has a gluten sensitivity. Because of this we have had to change the way we eat and it isn’t easy. I now have a newfound respect for all of those gluten-free people out there, some of whom are my friends. It’s hard work!
For those of you who don’t know what gluten is, it’s a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It’s also used in thickeners and in a lot of products, most notably pastas, breads, pastries, cakes, cereals and many of the things we eat every day.
For people with Celiac’s disease, even a hint of gluten can make them really sick. For others, the sensitivity can manifest itself in fatigue, stomach aches and lots of other issues.
One of the country’s leading experts on gluten-free eating estimates that 18 million Americans have some degree of gluten sensitivity. Purchasing of gluten-free foods is up 33 percent since 2009 and it’s a $6.3 billion industry and growing.
Given how expensive gluten-free products are, I can believe this. The good news is that there are lots of choices out there nowadays. The bad news is that anything gluten-free might as well also be labeled “more expensive.” And half of what you buy will likely taste bad. It’s trial and error and until you find the things you like, get ready to buy and then toss out half of it.
Still, you can find gluten free Rice Krispies at Target and gluten free pastas at Kroger. Head to Trader Joes and Whole Foods and the choices are even better. Dunwoody Bakery is all gluten free and their cake pops are awesome. Atlantis Healthfoods is also filled with gluten-free goodies and the owner knows everything there is to know about the topic.
More and more restaurants are also offering these foods. My new favorite restaurant, Blue Moon Pizza, has an an entire gluten-free menu that’s delicious. Still, much like at the grocery store, many restaurant’s offerings are just not good.
Other than the expense and the work just to get the right foods, changing a child’s diet is tough. It’s hard telling him no when he asks for a newly delivered girl scout cookie that was ordered before we knew we were going gluten-free. He can’t always eat what his friends eat and we must balance his sister’s eating with his.
The truth is, I don’t want to do this. But I will. Because re-learning what we eat and going against the grain of society is easier than watching him in pain. I am committed to getting my son healthy especially if it involves foods and supplements and not medicines. And if it works, it will all be worth it.
Lauren Menis is a Dunwoody mother whose column appears in The Crier each month. You can reach Lauren at Lauren.Menis@gmail.com.