A few months ago we discovered our oldest daughter has Celiac Disease. We are so glad she was diagnosed but this has thrown our eating habits for a bit of a loop! Celiacs can’t have gluten. Any gluten. It causes their bodies to not absorb nutrients and makes them sick and malnourished. But gluten is in all things. Or, nearly all things that are processed.
Gluten is the protein found in wheat and wheat related grains like barley and rye. It gives dough it’s elasticity (ever had crumbly gluten free bread?). And, as the modern food system does, it finds something good and adds it to everything. Food coloring, sauces, drinks, anything.
The signs have pointed that way for a long time but we never really knew the signs. She was very tall for a toddler (95th percentile) but by the time she was 4 she was down to the 25th percentile. We chalked it up to genes. I’m short. She would just be short. No big deal.
Thankfully my dad happened to do some research about CD and started thinking that her bad stomach aches and sudden slowed growth were probably Celiac. I was pretty skeptical but we’ve been searching for a root cause of her stomach problems for years but never really found one. She was off dairy for a long time but then the stomach aches came back so we added dairy back into her diet. And it seemed so random. I was a little concerned my doctor would skoff and not want to test for CD. I’ve read stories about pediatricians talking people out of testing. I think a lot of people are asking to get tested now so maybe that’s why doctors are less concerned. Or maybe they just aren’t aware of how prevalent it is.
Many people link the rise in Celiac Disease with the unnatural state of our food system. Genetically modified and overly chemically laiden. But we don’t know exactly what causes it. We do know there is a gene indicator that you may be suseptable to it. Though just because you have the gene doesn’t mean you’ll get it. If you have a sibling with it your chances of getting it increase dramatically (hello, genetics). We had one of our other kids tested because his growth slowed way down. Good news, he doesn’t have it right now.
I’m planning to start cooking/baking mostly gluten free at home. It doesn’t hurt any of us to avoid it at home. It gets trickier because we found out she is, in fact, intolerant of casein (milk protein) and now that we took her off again we can notice that trace amounds definitely affect her and cause her severe stomach pain. So no gluten or milk here. Oh, and the little guy has a peanut allergy (and minor allergies to other foods). So we read labels here. A lot. And the kids know how to read labels. Mostly. But checking for gluten is tough! It doesn’t have to be labeled and it’s hidden in things like “natural flavor”.
And by “planning to start” I mean that our house still looks like this.
That enpty space behind the girl is where a stove would go if we had one. So, yeah, I’m planning to cook GF but for now we eat out GF. Hopefully we’ll get the walls and floors finished by next week and we’ll get our stove!
Anyone else out there gluten free? How did you discover you or your child needed to stay off gluten? Any advice?