Since his diagnosis, I helped him transition to a gluten- and dairy-free diet.
Here is what I did:
Cow milk was replaced by homemade almond milk or store-bought coconut milk.
Yogurt was completely eliminated. No replacements used.
All cheese was completely eliminated. No replacements used.
Sour cream was completely eliminated. No replacements used.
Whipping cream was replaced by coconut whipped cream.
And I think this pretty much covers all the dairy products he was eating before.
In terms of gluten-free grains, he eats mostly products based on brown rice, buckwheat, corn, corn meal, millet, oats, wild rice, and quinoa (the last two are not a grain technically). I bake mainly with almond flour, coconut flour, and oat flour.
Removing the offending foods and adding supplements that helped heal his gut decreased inflammation in his body.
Here is what happened to his symptoms on the gluten- and dairy-free diet:
- Eye shiners (dark circles around his eyes) – disappeared
- Eczema on his thighs – disappeared
- Tantrums – he is calmer and easier to deal with
- Frequent colds – he gets 1 or 2 a year and I did not take him to emergency since prior to his diagnosis. I still give him Ventolin, but very rarely – only when he shows cold symptoms that persist longer than 4-5 days (unlike before when I would give him lots of puffs every 15 minutes).
This is what happens now if he eats gluten, dairy, or both:
This year my husband and I decided to allow our son to eat gluten, dairy, or both when he went to birthday parties and see what happens. I would load him on foods and supplements the days prior and days after the party to lower as much as possible the inflammation gluten and dairy would cause in his body.
This worked most of the time, but if he would go to 2 birthday parties in a row, one each week, he would develop again eye shiners, eczema on his legs, and even hard-to-control behaviour.
Thus, I learned that his body can handle gluten and dairy, but only small amounts and only once in a while.
I now ask him to choose before he goes to a birthday party. Does he want to eat the pizza (usually pizza is served) or the cake (or cupcakes)? He knows he can’t have both as it’s too much for his body to handle. He usually chooses the cake/cupcakes, so I make sure he gets some food he loves prior the party to compensate for not eating pizza there and to not feel deprived.
During the days prior to and after the party I load him up with the right foods and supplements to help lessen the inflammation in his body.
So this year he ate, for the first time in his life, Chinese food (twice) and quesadillas (twice). He loved them both. He also had, besides gluten and dairy in pizza and cake at birthday parties, cheese (a few times, as we sometimes make dinner wraps that are delicious with a bit of added cheese) and a few spoonfuls of yogurt here and there.
How does he feel about not being able to eat gluten and dairy?
I didn’t ask him this question as I didn’t want to insert in his mind that his dietary restriction could be looked at as a problem or as unfairness.
So I can’t tell you his exact thoughts on his dietary restriction.
But I can tell you this. Each time he is offered a food he is not familiar with, he asks the person if it has gluten and dairy. Or, if me or my husband are around, he asks one of us to check the food label. He doesn’t eat a new food without checking first if it is safe for him to eat. I am proud of my boy for taking his health seriously and for playing an active role in it!
Also, he never complains that others (relatives, friends, class mates, etc.) can eat gluten and dairy foods. Even when his sister eats cheese and yogurt in front of him. And he used to love (and he still does) all dairy- and gluten-based foods.
Final thoughts about the gluten- and dairy-free diet:
I am happy we reached the right balance for his body to be able to handle small amounts of gluten and dairy. I am happy and he is happy that he gets a bit of each once in a while.
Do you have a story about your child’s food allergy or sensitivity? Please share it with us!