Gluten intolerance in kids


jburth7

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I don't know if this is an appropriate post or not since my daughter is not following a strict Whole30, but I thought I would ask for advice. 

 

Since my husband and I started eating Whole30, we have not had our kids follow the same strict 'diet.'  Our dinners are generally Whole30 since I don't want to cook two meals, but for breakfast and lunch the kids still have a handful of non Whole30 compliant foods.  They generally are eating much healthier but we still allow things to slip through - we buy Ezekiel bread, plain whole yogurt, gluten free pasta, but they still eat worse things too.

 

In the last 6 months, my oldest daughter (6) has been complaining of many tummy troubles.  We took her to the doctor once when she was very constipated and encouraged lots of water drinking and did some small doses of miralax to help things pass.  However, lately she has been telling me that certain foods hurt her stomach - specifically pizza and bagels.

 

I'm wondering if either she's developing a gluten intolerance or if since we've made more of her diet healthier that she's now realizing how bad off-plan foods can feel.  For example, I generally eat Whole30, but over the weekend, I had a large bowl of ice cream (still not sure why I did this because I felt terrible after).  I suffered the effects all day in the bathroom the next day.  Prior to Whole30, I may have had minor issues after ice cream, but I feel like it's more exaggerated now that I eat compliant foods almost all of the time.  Does that make sense?

 

I did make an appointment to take her to the pediatrician to see what they think, but I'm just wondering how much I have to worry about her.  I realize that most people on this forum would just to say to eliminate gluten from her diet and I can do that, but for kids, I tend to lean more toward teaching them good food choices yet still letting them have some 'treats' once in a while.  She's already told me she doesn't really like pizza anymore because it makes her tummy hurt and I feel like that's almost a better 'lesson' that just me forbidding it.  I worry about my kids growing up in a too restrictive food environment that I have made and then having them off-road that much more when they're older rather than teaching them about healthy food (my three year old already knows what foods have added sugar versus natural sugar) and just realizing we do non-healthy foods in moderation.

 

Sorry, this is a bit of a ramble.  I guess my main question is whether her diet being healthier has made a possible gluten sensitivity rear its head or not?

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You're either gluten sensitive or not. Giving up gluten doesn't make you intolerant to it, but it may allow your gut to heal so that you experience a more severe reaction next time you eat it. Like you with ice cream. I have a severe gluten intolerance which I've been aware of for years but now I eat gluten free 99% of the time I really suffer if I eat some accidentally. My husband also eats whole 30 compliant meals 3 times a day and has done 3 w30s same as me but can eat bread, pasta, cakes with no ill effects whatsoever.

You'll probably get told here to cut gluten out of your daughter's diet, but I would suggest you take her to the doctor. I say this because my gluten reaction is now so bad that I wonder if I have coeliac disease. I can't get tested, because I haven't eaten gluten in any quantity for over 18m. I know it will make me ill if I tried. Gluten intolerance is one thing but coeliac disease is a severe autoimmune disease. It's no big issue for me because I'm happy not to eat gluten but I'd want full information before making a child gf - because if it is more than intolerance she'll need to be strictly gf forever.

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If she does actually have Celiac, then getting a diagnosis would be very helpful. You can try to find a doctor that would diagnose off of a genetic test, but you'd likely need to get your daughter to eat gluten-containing products to get the diagnosis. The difference between intolerance and Celiac that she'd know for sure is that an intolerant person can eat gluten and get sick but it won't actually damage their intestines and raise the chances of certain cancers. If someone with Celiac eats gluten, they are doing both to themselves - damaging the lining of their intestines and raising their risk of cancers.

 

However, to have an accurate diagnosis your daughter would need to eat gluten for a period of time - usually several weeks - and then have bloodwork/endoscopy done. Some insurance companies, though, will help foot the bill for gluten free products if you're actually diagnosed with Celiac because of the extreme price difference between the GF and non-GF products but won't if you haven't been officially diagnosed.

 

I'd talk to your daughter's doctor, try to get a referral to at least talk to a GI doctor and discuss your options. See if they're willing to diagnose her on food reaction plus genetic testing alone or if they'd require her to put up with a messed-up stomach for weeks on end to get the diagnosis. Then again, ask them if she tries to eat enough gluten and it gives her severe reactions, whether they'll take that as being enough of a reaction to diagnosis. Then, honestly, talk to your daughter about it. She sounds old enough to understand at least a little bit of what's going on, so explain it to her. Tell her that she doesn't have to but it could make a lot of things a lot easier in the future if she gets the diagnosis (as a diagnosed Celiac, I can promise that this is true) but that you won't force her.

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I can't complete the "gluten challenge" (get too sick) but docs are fairly sure I'm a celiac.

 

Before W30 I'd eaten gluten every day since I started solid food (baby cereal here used to be wheat based). I had a bunch of health issues but no one ever suggested celiac or being tested for it (although as I got older, I thought carbs made me feel less well, it's really grains).

 

I didn't get a noticeable reaction until I went gluten free and then added it back in, but it's really because I suffered all the time and just thought that was normal. I always felt like that. Cutting it out doesn't cause intolerance, but you notice it's absence if you're not eating it because you feel well.

 

I'm no longer okay with my old normal, I have a new normal now and my old normal just feels sick.

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