We’re going gluten free.
Well, the small one is, again. I like bread just way too much. And cake, and pasta, and biscuits; basically all the things that make me bloat like I’m six months pregnant but are totally worth it.
So yea… this post is not going to be very funny, and there’s a bit of poo chat. No pictures though, I promise you. This time. I’m writing about it because maybe someone out there might have a similar experience from which they can offer their wisdom, or maybe (just maybe) it might help someone suffering like we were. You never know.
He always suffered from reflux and tummy troubles and pretty horrible, liquid pale poo; sometimes more than seven times a day. The doctors told us it was nothing to worry about, as they do, so we took it upon ourselves to figure it out and noticed it seemed to lessen when we took bread and pasta out of his diet (and mine, when I was breastfeeding).
Eventually we took a trip to the paediatrician and we told him our worries; he told us off for not contacting him sooner and taking things into our own hands in terms of diet restriction, which of course we were expecting. You shouldn’t do it. Only, we had been waiting for that appointment for fecking ages and were out of our minds with lack of sleep, and the fact that our little experiment had coincided with him sleeping through the night (occasionally) meant we were less than excited about rocking the boat.
To our surprise though, he did agree that the symptoms – along with the fact that he was falling down the centiles for height – were consistent with coeliac disease, and ordered a blood test.
We had to reintroduce gluten for six weeks in order to take the test.
He did have worse nappies and was generally unhappier, but he was also teething, so it was difficult to say whether it had an effect. When the test came back negative, we were relieved – of course we were – but it did mean we didn’t have any answers.
We had no idea where to go from here really. There’s no easy, scientific test for non-coeliac wheat sensitivity; it’s a case of an elimination diet but anyone who’s ever tried to do this in a small pre-verbal child prone to teething and illness will tell you it’s pretty hard to do.
It’s a dilemma; is it worse to restrict a child’s diet unnecessarily, or keep giving them foods that potentially cause discomfort?
So while we figured out what to do, he kept on eating what we ate, and in himself he was OK save for his 5am wakings, constant whingebagging and tendency towards explosive nappies. It was easier, and cheaper and when we didn’t know what the hell to do, and with no more help offered, sticking status quo seemed as good an option as any.
With potty training on the horizon we decided that as difficult and impractical as it might be, we really needed to find out what was causing this and if there was a way to fix it.
On the advice we had been given, we first cut out dairy for two weeks. There was no change at all, thank goodness, because the kid is a cheese monster. Then he had a few days off, and then we cut out gluten again.
One week on, and we had our first solid poo of the past year. A majestic, perfectly formed turd. I almost photographed it, it was that exciting. I didn’t, so don’t worry. Since then, we’ve had more – and a few mishaps where I’ve assumed and not read the back of the packet to my error. It’s a huge learning curve; who knew gluten was in so many things? Sausages, Monster Munch? WHY?
I feel relieved, hopeful and awful for not having done this sooner. I also feel kind of pissed off that bread is going to cost me an eye-watering £3 a loaf, and he’s probably going to feed it to the dog anyway.
As this was horrendously timed to coincide with his birthday, I also want to throw in a big thank you here to Bakerdays who came to my rescue and made him his own small gluten free birthday cake so he could join in on the cake-eating.
I would love to hear from gluten-free parents, please share with me your diagnosis stories and your top tips!