Thursday, January 16, 2014

Goodbye Gluten

If you remember, one of my goals for 2014 was to go gluten free.  We're not doing this because of celiac disease but due to the numerous articles about gluten intolerance and hyperactivity/mood. I have been playing with the idea for a while.  While Ethan is too young to be formally diagnosed with ADHD he exhibits some classic symptoms ( which are hard to distinguish from being a normal 2 year old) plus there is a genetic component to it and Tim had horrible ADHD as a child. So yes while it may be premature to think about it, its something that is on my mind.

No you may say "Shannon this is silly and Ethan is probably just being a normal 2 year old" and you know what? You might be right. But it's hard to describe his mood as normal. He has dramatic highs and lows and is excessively hyper. I don't mean normal 2 year old hyper I mean excessive. 

Here is how I look at it- going gluten free isn't harmful, and in most cases has proven to have serious health benefits for many people, not just GI disorders. So it really was a no brainer to me to give it a try and see what happens. It won't hurt us to try it and if anything it will help.  Now I say this after doing months of research, talking to doctors, and really trying to understand what I am commiting us to because going gluten free is not something to take lightly. People eat gluten on a daily basis from bread, to pasta, to soy sauce. Its a big commitment and requires a lot of planning, researching and will power.  I decided I was going to do this with Ethan because it only seems fair that if I'm going to enforce this new lifestyle on him that I be willing to do it with him.  I am committing to a 3 month trial. That gives me a substantial amount of time not to only see if I truly think it will work, but also to adjust to it so I won't crave the gluten foods like we normally had. If after 3 months I feel that the change has been substantial then we stick with it. 

So here is how I did it.  

Luckily my mom was sweet enough to watch Ethan so I could devote an afternoon to the grocery store. I didn't want to be rushed and wanted to be able to really pay attention to what I was buying. The majority being fruits, veggies, and protein. Those are a no brainer, but its things that I had to substitute that were the hard part.  I love bread, I mean borderline carb addict over here. So giving up bread, pasta, and baked goods were not an option for me. 

After doing some research I found product that are gluten free and offer many positive reviews. So I gave them a try.  Things like-
Glutino bread- which is great except its preservative free which means it must be kept frozen so it doesn't become stale really quickly. 
Bisquick Gluten free pancake mix- My favorite! You can barely tell a difference between this and regular bisquick. We have had lots of pancakes lately.
Pillsbury Gluten free dough- We made pizza and I'm not going to lie. I wasn't a fan of the rubbery dough but luckily Ethan loved it.

Chex gluten free cereal- I'm not a huge cereal fan, but Ethan loves this and they have currently replaced his previous favorite- cheerios

So now the big question is, "Is it working?" Honestly its too early to tell. But I think so. I have noticed that many days ( not all, which is really the best I can expect) Ethan's mood seems to be on more of an even level. He isn't having as many of the severe highs and lows, he is so much easier to talk to and shocker, he is actually listening. No he doesn't like what I have to say sometimes and still throws tantrums like any other kid but it seems like he is much more reasonable and I feel like my own mood is improved significantly. I don't know how to describe it other then I just feel better somehow.  Plus something else I have noted is Ethan's bloated little Buddha belly that I never really thought much of before is going away. He is so much less bloated! I never thought much of it before and figured it was the toddler weight shifting around but its gone and seems much more comfortable.

No don't get me wrong there have been some set backs and a few expected twist on this little journey so far.

Cost- going gluten free is not cheap! Special gluten items are expensive and while yes its cheaper to make everything from scratch the convenience of not having to sometimes is something I'm not willing to give up, especially with a toddler around.  I tried to wean our gluten consumption down while not wasting the groceries we already had ( poptarts, cereal, bread etc) but after a few episodes of giving Ethan something containing gluten and then seeing him start acting like I had given him speed I decided that maybe cold turkey really was the best way for us to do this. 

Constipation- Sorry yes I'm going to talk about poop for a brief second. Mainly to say that constipation is a huge side effect and poor Ethan has definitely seen a few days of it. People don't realize how much they rely on the added fiber in food so when you take those food items away you have to remember to replace your lost fiber with healthy alternatives.

Cravings- Like I said, I'm a carb addict and have cheated once or twice on this new diet. Each time to severely regret it. I just don't feel good after I cheat. My stomach hurts, I'm cranky and just plain uncomfortable. Looks like cheating is going to be few and far between.

This isn't a easy decision I've made but like most things I'm doing what I think is right for my family.  This takes a lot of commitment and will power but I think since we have 2 weeks in, the rest should hopefully be downhill from here.

  **If going gluten free is something your interested it then do the right thing, research, talk to people who have done it, talk to your doctor and make an informed decision that's right for you, not just because its something that you read about on a blog. Knowledge is power and when it comes to your health there is no such thing as too much knowledge**

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