We left our last hospital appointment with Freya’s consultant and dietician feeling something we had never felt before in nearly two years – positive.
Her reflux symptoms were gone and aside from the continuing night wakings she was a happy and seemingly healthy little girl so we all agreed now might be a good time to start challenging her food issues.
She has been dairy-free since she was 16 weeks-ish and has had a limited diet since we started weaning and everything seemed to make her reflux worse but I’ve worked hard to gradually introduce a range of things which, to me, seem like a pretty healthy diet (she certainly has five a day, if not more, along with either meat, free-from pasta or fish). The trouble is it’s a bit samey and when it comes to treats rather limited to free-from biscuits or things I make from scratch so when they suggested trying out new things we were all for it.
We were to start with wheat and gluten, the proteins found in wheat and other grains, then try soya and finally the holy grail of dairy.
We started off gently and this appeared to be going well but as the weeks went on her behaviour deteriorated like you wouldn’t believe. Freya has always been spirited, which I like, but this was ridiculous. At the time I put it down to the start of the terrible twos – even though my mum says that isn’t a real thing and is made up by the media (she gives me, as someone in the media, the look when she says it).
And then I suddenly had one of those: “Waaaait a minute” thoughts.
I’d seen this behaviour before and it was right before we cut wheat and gluten out of her diet. What if she wasn’t just REALLY REALLY angry that her dad had treated her to a Frozen sticker book which she DID NOT WANT which meant kicking off in the middle of the supermarket and for the following 40 minutes to the point she was shaking with rage even after the offending book was taken away? What if it was actually something in her food that was making her a bit crazy?
I was loath to go down that route and, yes, it has something to do with the way people look at me when I say she is intolerant to certain things but also because I really want her to have what they call a “more normalised diet”. I want her to be able to go to parties and eat the food without me panicking, for us to be able to go out for a family meal and not have to take her food with us or when she eyes up something on my plate, to be able to give it to her to try.
However, after about five weeks of her behaviour gradually getting worse and sleep all but disappearing as her intake increased, I felt it might be worth a shot. And, what do you know, she’s been clear of it for just over a week and, touch wood, we haven’t had an epic mega meltdown since and her sleeping is getting back to where it was. My generally happy girl has returned and we just have the normal huffs of toddler-hood which are more than manageable.
Obviously I don’t know that it’s wheat or gluten, it could any one of the things they add to our food these days, although I did do a bit of research once she came off it and apparently it is thought that gluten can cause behavioural issues. My mind was blown.
Before having Freya I didn’t pay much attention to what I ate, although as a veggie I don’t think my diet was too bad. I had a vague notion that maybe e-numbers could be a bit iffy and I didn’t want her eating too much sugar but now I have to read every single label three times my eyes have well and truly been opened to all the additives.
So for now, after taking to the experts, she will remain free-from and perhaps we will give it another go in the future – hopefully after she is also over the terrible twos too.
Has anyone had any experience of this as a child or adult? Do you watch what you eat?
- I’m not suggesting that people should randomly start cutting things out of their children’s diet. We work closely with a dietician and are under the care of a consultant with regular check ups to make sure she is ok. It’s also worth noting that to test for problems wheat and gluten have to be present in the system. I’ve written this post just to highlight our story in case anyone is going through something similar.