Lindsay has had a wonderful wheat-free experience, as you can judge from the obvious change in her photos (below). But it’s her son’s health that concerned her more.
Here the story of Lindsay’s struggle to find answers to her son’s health struggles.
My son has long fought with horrible sinus and respiratory allergies. And I have long fought with my son in regards to his behavior. Only when I learned about the affects of food sensitivities on our bodies did I tie the two together.
Some of his allergy symptoms:
- stuffy nose
- chronic cough
- waking with bags under his eyes
- red ears
- respiratory issues
- bouts of diarrhea
- constant fatigue
- light sensitivity
- noise sensitivity
AND some of his behavior problems:
- ‘rage’ fits. They are like 10x worse than your basic tantrums!
- physical – hitting, kicking
- general unhappiness/sadness
- easily ‘set off’
No amount of punishment, time-outs, warnings, or threatened consequences seemed to help.
I’ve had my share of hearing how my kid just needs a good ‘straightening out.’ I’m sorry, I tried and tried and tried . . . and it was getting increasingly worse. I knew there was something else going on. My son is a good kid . . . a GREAT kid. And when he is feeling good he is so pleasant to be around.
I feel like I’ve gone through the ringer with my son and doctor after doctor trying to get help. I’ve been given the ‘hypochondriac mother stamp’ by some, and have seen doctors galore that have given me countless ‘reasons’ for my sons allergies or behavior (never tied together of course), and ONE that has embraced the idea that my son’s food sensitivities could be directly feeding his allergies AND behavior.
When my son was an infant, he had horrible issues with gas and stomach upset. We eventually switched to soy formula which helped a little bit. As he got a little older and started to eat solid food, he then started to develop recurring respiratory infections. We found ourselves having to give our son breathing treatments twice a day. Fast forward a little more and the terrible two’s hit . . . WOW . . . were they REALLY supposed to be THAT terrible? On top of his allergies we were now dealing with constant irritability and fatigue. Well, the terrible two’s stuck around for age three, morphed into the fit-throwing fours, and so on.
When my son was in preschool (age 4 and 5), his behavior was awful. The poor preschool teachers likely drew straws to decide who had to deal with him each day! He threw tantrums, disrespected teachers, hit/kicked friends, broke a chair, had screaming fits . . . it was so embarrassing. The daycare director recommended we see a behavior therapist to see if they had any suggestions for us. We met with the lady (who we just adored by the way) who evaluated our son over the course of a few weeks – both at home and at school. Her conclusion – our son was a bright, energetic kid. She confirmed that he did not have ADD or ADHD or any sort of disorder in her opinion. All she could suggest was that we step up our efforts of helping our son with anger management and provided us some tools to do so. Back to square one.
I also visited my doctor’s office twice specifically seeking help for my son’s behavior. One doctor told me that it was likely something he would grow out of and another suggested he wasn’t getting enough vitamins. Vitamins???
My son had also started having horrible stomach issues. He would be constantly be constipated and then periodically would have bouts of diarrhea, and they would unfortunately ‘hit’ while he was at preschool. We went to a pediatric specialist to see if there was possibly an intestinal issue. They chalked it up to our son being afraid to go “#2” and had us give him Miralax every day . . . EVERY DAY. Interesting that I remember specifically asking this doctor if he thought my son could have celiac disease. He immediately dismissed it because he didn’t see my son exhibiting failure to thrive symptoms.
During this same time, I started noticing that my son seemed tired ALL the time. He would sleep 11 or 12 hours a night and wake up exhausted. He would often have little wrinkles or bags under his eyes. And he was constantly coughing. Even his teacher started asking about it. And he didn’t even realize he was doing it. After doing some research on the internet, I started to suspect that it was a form of asthma. I went to visit our family doctor who also suspected asthma and referred me to an allergy specialist. They did two allergy panels across his back, numerous breathing treatments, etc.–nothing. He confirmed my son was having allergic reactions to something but could not pin point what it was. He did NOT run a test for celiac . . . but I didn’t know enough about it at the time to think it could be tied to his allergies so didn’t request it either. This doctor’s solution was to send my son home on steroid inhalers, steroid nasal spray, and breathing treatments. My son’s behavior was OFF THE SCALE taking these medications and we ended up stopping them as soon as we realized it was affecting him.
My son’s kindergarten year was just a continuation of preschool. He was okay but still had horrible tantrum episodes and just all around irritability ALL the time! There was even one occurrence when the principal had to carry my kicking and screaming son out of his classroom.
In all of this mess and all of the ‘opinions’ given to me by doctors about what I should do to treat my son, not ONE of them seemed to have much interest in investigating what the cause of all of these allergies, stomach issues, and behavior issues was.
I came across this book that would forever change my life, “Is This Your Child” by Dr. Doris Rapp. In reading about her, it appears many doctors think she is a quack. But now that I know what I know, she is probably one of the very few that REALLY ‘gets it.’ In her book, she discusses the link between allergies/sensitivities to behavior. Allergens/sensitivities can be anything from grasses and molds to chemicals and fragrances to dairy and citrus fruits. This book opened my eyes to possibilities I hadn’t considered before. Maybe my son really CAN’T control his behavior–because his body won’t let him.
So this book gave me the motivation to see if I could track down the CAUSE of all of my son’s issues on my own. No doc needed or wanted at that point, as I was so frustrated with them all!
I also read a book by William Davis called “Wheat Belly.” I initially read this book for my own issues and not my son’s. I had long struggled with the inability to lose ANY weight no matter what I tried or how little I ate. I also was battling hypothyroidism. If I have to recommend anything about this book, I will simply just say, “READ THIS BOOK, thank me later.”
STOP believing the media that wheat is a ‘healthy whole grain’!! It is anything but healthy! Wheat today is nothing like the wheat of our ancestors. Our bodies struggle to digest it. And most people’s digestive systems are aggravated by the constant ingestion of it because it’s practically in everything! After reading this book, I removed gluten from my diet completely. In 3.5 months, I lost 20 lbs . . . and this was after years of struggling to even lose ONE. I felt great, my energy was up, my sleep was better, and my chronic sinus issues subsided!
I went to my yearly check-up and my doctor was in AWE. She couldn’t believe the transformation. She couldn’t believe how much weight I had lost and she was thrilled to see me NOT struggling with my sinuses finally. When she asked if I had been exercising more or something, I simply said, “Nope. I stopped eating wheat.” Surprisingly, she was intrigued so I told her a little more about it. She told me to keep doing whatever it was I was doing and that I must have had some sort of sensitivity to it.
After the visit to my doctor, I started wondering: Could my son have a sensitivity to gluten too??? It’s very possible! Sooo I decided to remove gluten from his diet too. I packed his lunches for school each day and carefully avoided anything containing wheat. I started to see a difference–not night and day, but MUCH better. His behavior started to improve and his chronic cough subsided a bit. His sinuses still seemed stuffy and he was still waking grumpy, however. I had read that gluten intolerant kids were often dairy intolerant as well. So, I started removing diary from his diet, as well. I really started to notice that, over the weekends, I had a COMPLETELY different kid! He was just pleasant, cooperative, and happy! He would sleep a full night and wake up bright eyed and excited for the day. I LOVED it.
The problem was that I was also noticing that once the school week started again, he would typically get stuffy all over again and have a MAJOR meltdown on Tuesday or Wednesday, like clockwork. I couldn’t figure it out at first, but then my son mentioned something to me. “Hey, Mom. I’m really sorry, but I’ve been forgetting at school and have been buying milk at lunch.” Well, that explains a lot! THEN I found out that not only was he having milk each day, he was having BOTH milk and wheat at after school daycare. No wonder he was fine on the weekends and then having such a bad reaction a couple days after going back to school.
I found myself facing a wall in my efforts with my son, though: My school and my after-school care. I guess being a mom isn’t enough to say what my kid can and can’t eat. So he was still given milk products at school. I would pack his lunch, which helped, but no one was there to stop him if he forgot and got in the milk line at lunch. And, after-school care didn’t allow kids to bring their own food, so he was fed whatever they had . . . and milk was served with snack every day, usually with crackers or pretzels, etc. I called them both and tried to explain my situation. Of course, most of them thought I was a nut when I tried to explain that my son had food sensitivities which caused his allergies and his behavior to flare up. They gave me the ‘sorry we can’t help you’ speech and told me I would have to submit the proper forms in order for them to NOT feed him these things.
TOTAL frustration. After dealing with another couple weeks of meltdowns and stuffy sinuses, I remembered my recent appointment with my doctor where she had acknowledged the possibility of my having a sensitivity to wheat. Maybe I could convince her that the same thing affected my son. I wrote her a letter detailing my son’s behavior, health history, as well as mine. I stated in my letter that I was needing her ‘blessing’ in order to provide the necessary paperwork to his school and that I was keeping a food journal (I had in fact started one) to track what he ate and how it affected him – I could not be positive of my findings if he continued to eat these items at the school. It worked!!! She signed the paperwork and I practically ran to my school to deliver them (with a smirk on my face).
After I finally had gotten the school and daycare road bumps out of our way, I was off again. I track what my son eats and have since been able to identify some dyes as affecting his behavior, as well. He is well-behaved, energetic, HAPPY, sleeps great, cooperative, wakes up happy (which never occurred previously), and more. When he has something he shouldn’t, the reaction is very apparent, and they almost seem magnified now. We’ve started calling his ears his ‘indicator button’ as they will turn red soon after eating something he shouldn’t. The frustrating thing is that it usually takes a couple days or so to get it BACK out of his system.
PLEASE: If you are having behavior issues or chronic allergy issues with your child, please do not resort to a bunch of medications before exploring the possibility of food sensitivities, environmental sensitivities, etc. Gluten and dairy are major culprits, start with those. Wouldn’t you rather know the CAUSE of your child’s aggravation or allergies rather than just trying to TREAT it?