Remember how I told you all the benefits of going Gluten Free? I also said it was WAY easier than I expected? More importantly, I told you how unbelievably effective this diet was for my daughter and the amazing results we saw after just 5 weeks.
Well…there was one thing I left out. And you aren’t going to like it. It pains me to tell you. In fact, it may be just the thing that keeps you from trialing a GF diet for your child, which makes me almost not want to tell you – but you need to know. You also have to go Dairy Free.
There I said it.
Let me explain. Before I put my daughter on a Gluten Free diet I did a LOT of research about the best way to go GF. At the time, I believed she was Celiac and that some of her symptoms were the result of eating wheat. I believed that we could hopefully improve her digestion, her sleep issues, her energy? And really that was about it. But as I researched Celiac I began to read about people who were also able to clear up their brain fog, fatigue, memory issues, rashes, pains etc. This was shocking to me and it motivated me to really give this thing its best shot. Again, I knew that my daughter was only going to agree to this once, and if she didn’t feel better pretty quickly she would lose any motivation to stick with it.
I joined a Celiac board and started asking questions. I read through post archives. I learned about what things people did wrong and about the things people did right. There were a few things that seemed unanimous within the Celiac community and the same bits of advice were given over and over again.
I will share an over-simplified version of what I learned with you so you don’t have to do the research. If you want a more detailed explanation feel free to email me!
1) If you are wheat intolerant your body produces anti-gliadin (fancy word for anti-gluten)antibodies and these antibodies attack your body. This attack damages the small intestines and can lead to a number of nutritional deficiencies.
2) When you remove Gluten from your diet you will still have an abundance of these antibodies cursing through your body, but now they have nothing to attack.
3) They are quite happy to attack the next most structurally similar protein and that just happens to be milk protein (casein)
4) If you remove Gluten but not Dairy you will a) create a false Dairy intolerance and b) not feel ONE iota better because you will continue to have all the same awful symptoms – they will just now be the result of Dairy as opposed to Gluten. At the end of the trial month you won’t feel any better and you will conclude that you must not have any issues with wheat. This happens ALL THE TIME.
So please TRUST ME when I tell you that you have to go Dairy Free also. I was one of the stubborn who thought “Uhm…hell no! Gluten Free is bad enough!! Surely I will still see some improvement just by eliminating Gluten!?”
The first week that my daughter was Gluten Free I eagerly awaited the moment that I could say to my husband “WOW! Do you see how much better she is doing??” I am not a patient person and I think I asked her hourly if she felt any better. But there was no real change other than a noticeable decline on how often she complained about a sore tummy.
I started to get a bit worried because I had only made her promise to commit to 1 month. I only had 3 weeks left to impress her with how much better she felt! I realize that I had unrealistically high expectations; the internet is FULL of people who say it took months before they felt better, but I was convinced I just needed a month.
So I doubled down my efforts and convinced her to give up Dairy for the last 3 weeks. This was easier to get her to agree to than I expected, and I don’t think either of us realized that it was easier said, than done. But she agreed to it and we immediately stripped away all Dairy. I am convinced that eliminating the Dairy is when things really got rolling. Immediately the brain fog lifted, slightly at first and then it was gone. And I mean GONE. We were only in our second week and she was already feeling so much better that I knew we were on to something. By the third week the fatigue started to go away. There was literally not one sensory issue and her personality was back. By the end of the fourth week she was a different person. Actually…she was finally herself again. The girl we remembered.
At the four week mark she was already doing so incredibly well that I “rewarded” her with little bits of dairy. I won’t lie…the DF was REALLY daunting. Unlike GF, there are no real great substitutes out there. We found an amazing butter substitute that saved our lives but cheese, sour cream, yogurt? Nope. They are awful. We never really found anything that replaced most dairy items. Not to mention all the hidden dairy that you have to avoid. Milk is in chocolate, candy, sauces, popcorn…it is everywhere!!
It started small – sure you can have a little sprinkle of parmesan on your pasta. The next day – here have a slice of GF pizza with REAL cheese. Eventually she was back to eating ALL the dairy. And I will be honest; it didn’t seem to have any negative effect on her issues. Until one day when it did. You can read in my post “The Truth” about how we lost everything. How all the success just went away and we started losing her. In that post I blamed the controversial Cheerios, (which may have contributed to the problem) but I know now that it was the Dairy.
See, we stripped away the Cheerios. No more oats for Sara. And guess what…it never got better. Day after day we continued to lose her more and more. We never saw an improvement after that. Finally it occurred to me, it’s the dairy. That morning she had a bowl of CHEX and the stomach pains were back. She was in pain all day. She was shaky and confused. She was unable to process the world around her. She was as bad as before we started.
So we quit Dairy again. Only a few days ago actually, and within 24 hours she was starting to improve. The confusion lifted, then the fatigue, then this morning she had an eyelash in her eye and it was no big deal. Her clothes were fine, her hair wasn’t too “bumpy”, she woke rested, and she was smiling and clear-headed. And once again…I can see that we are on to something here.
I won’t lie…I am dreading the Dairy Free. But unlike being GF, being DF is only temporary. Most people can successfully reintroduce Dairy back into their diets once the Gluten anti-bodies are gone. So please forgive me for having to be the one to tell you this. It sucks to be me right now. But I really feel that being GF/DF for a period of time is what will not only “save” my daughter again but allow her to heal and return to a normal life. Try it and I bet you won’t regret