Tips & Strategies for Living Gluten Free
Gluten-free kids want to have their cake and eat it, too. Visit this blog for simple ideas to make the gluten-free journey easier for you and your family!
My Tipping Point
Talk to anyone who has gone gluten-free for good, and they’ll tell you about their tipping point. My moment where everything changed came three years ago. I couldn’t be more grateful. Not only did going gluten-free restore my health, it opened my eyes to struggles my son had been having. But more about that in a minute.
About four years ago, I developed Lyme disease. Even after a few rounds of antibiotics, I couldn’t bounce back. I went from being an active mom, graphic designer, and avid runner, to barely being able to make it through the day.
My joints hurt, my brain fogged, my facial muscles twitched, my cuticles bled, and I felt faint. I was 36 going on 60. Finally, a doctor realized I was vitamin deficient and started me on a regimen of supplements to restore my levels. I followed the plan for a year, but still fell short of my old self. I was happy to be better, but frustrated about my plateau. I didn’t know what else to do.
One night I was watching the news, and they did a story on a woman with celiac. I had never heard of the disease, and I couldn’t believe my ears. I could relate to almost all of her symptoms! I immediately booted up my laptop and started researching. I was struck by the match-up of symptoms. Then I read that intestinal cancer can be a side effect of celiac. This worried me because my father’s mother had died of colon cancer. Still nervous about making a self-diagnosis, I decided to think it over for a couple days before changing my diet.
Two days later, my mother called with the news that she had colon cancer. I now had two immediate family members diagnosed with intestinal cancer. I couldn’t ignore this. I decided to cut gluten from my diet for a week and see if it made a difference.
It took a week before I started seeing improvements, so I committed to another gluten-free week. That’s when the benefits began kicking in. I felt more energy, my thinking sharpened, my ever-present mouth blisters cleared up, and I had less joint and muscle pain.
I was nervous to report my findings to my doctor. But as I talked through my symptoms and changes since going gluten free, I saw the same expression of recognition come over her face that came over mine when I watched the news show.
She referred me to a specialist, who scheduled me for a small intestine biopsy to determine if I had celiac. Unfortunately, this meant I had to return gluten to my diet for the next six weeks so they could get an accurate assessment of how my body responded to it.
As mentally and physically stressful as it was to start eating gluten again and watch my progress unravel, I wanted to know whether I was gluten intolerant or had celiac disease. The treatment is the same—complete avoidance of gluten—but I wanted to know for my kids. I have two sons, and I had started to suspect that my youngest might have gluten issues too. My biopsy came back negative, but I was diagnosed as gluten intolerant.
Which brings me back to my youngest son, who this blog is named for. My eight-year-old was a fussy eater, had problems concentrating in school, and was plagued with skin ailments and joint pain. I was nervous about asking him to change his diet because kids don’t want to be different. When I explained how going gluten-free might help him, to my surprise, he was eager to give it a try.
Since going gluten-free, his school frustrations, aches and pains, and poor appetite are gone. Still, I knew there would come a day when a slice of birthday cake would test his resolve. I knew I needed to educate myself and others, plan well, and always have a list of gluten-free treats at my fingertips!
And while this blog is called “My Gluten-Free Kid,” it’s really about “our” gluten-free kids. I hope that the tips and strategies I share make life easier for you and your loved ones!