I have a gluten intolerance and it’s the bane of my existence. I love bread. And pasta. And bagels. But alas, I cannot eat them without getting sick. My doctor suspects that I actually have Celiac’s Disease, which is an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten, but the testing is expensive and I’m barely insured. Plus, I’ve been gluten-free for years; I know it works, so there’s little an official diagnosis would change. Coraline’s love of all things glutinous (see aforementioned carbs) should have been sign enough that she too has a problem (ironically, an addiction to bread and its cohorts is an indicator of an intolerance). When she started showing other signs several weeks ago — tummy aches, loose poop, flame red patches of eczema on the backs of her hands — I immediately suspected gluten. And I was right. (One instance when I’d rather be wrong.) Though the same as mine, her restrictions somehow seem more difficult to accommodate. Probably because toddler-friendly, vegan, and gluten free food is hard to come by. But she’s feeling much better and we’re working it out.
Food intolerances and sensitivities can be tough to nail down. While allergies make themselves more obvious (i.e. you eat the peanut butter and immediately get hives or can’t breathe), intolerance symptoms can be sneaky, manifesting as chronic or appearing just after eating. In young children it’s even trickier because so many of the symptoms — diaper rashes, ear infections, eczema, mood swings — are easily written off as everyday kid ailments. The best way to figure out if there’s an allergy or intolerance is to do an elimination diet; for a couple weeks cut out all common allergens like gluten, soy, egg, and dairy. Then, if and when the symptoms disappear, add the items back in one by one, leaving several days between. If the symptoms flare up again after a reintroduction, then you have your culprit. You can also get tested by a chiropractor (using applied kinesiology), or by blood test at your doctor’s.
If there are any mamas out there with good gluten-free kid references, send them my way!