Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gluten Free Kids

One of my goals for this year was too add more "fun" stuff to the blog.  While I love writing pieces to and for mommas, our little family has a lot more going on than I usually get a chance to write about. One being that both our kids are gluten free. As a parent of "g free" kids, I can say two things honestly:

1. I knew positively nothing about gluten, what it was or how harmful it could be before our pediatrician said the word.
2. Nearly, three years since removing gluten from our kid's diet, I still find myself wanting to pull my hair out some days because of the complications it causes.

But this is meant to be a fun post!  Ideally what I would like this to become is a resource for other moms (and dad's) to turn to for encouragement and support as they also seek a gluten free life for their kiddos.  Each week I plan to highlight a gluten free kid and post an interview with or about that child and his/her parent as a way to remind readers that they aren't alone-- there are many, many kids out there with an allergy (or allergies).  Sometimes it's important to remind them of how special they are and that their allergy doesn't have to be a bad thing-- it makes them part of who they are. 

So without any further babbling on my end... I started with one of my absolute favorites.
Little Mountain Momma's
 Gluten Free Kid Of The Week
Mackenzie, 5 Years Old
If you had to describe Mackenzie in three words what would they be?
Mackenzie is joyful, passionate & fierce.

How was it discovered that Mackenzie needed to be gluten free?
Mackenzie has had digestion issues since she was a newborn and it has only gotten worse as she as grown.  My husband and I can remember her as a baby, being out in public, and the screams, thrashing and wailing that would take place in public when she needed to "go".  To a perfect stranger you would have thought we were torturing her.  To put it mildly, it was awful.  We often remark to one another that these are the things you are never ever told you might have thrown your way as a parent.  Sleep issues?  Sure.  Nursing problems?  Of course.  But never did we read a thing about a baby who might scream uncontrollably every time she needed to use the bathroom.  This one wasn't even on our radar. 

Throughout her first three years pediatricians suggested lots of things to resolve. Add some water to her bottle. "Try giving her prunes."  "Maybe it's a dairy allergy?  Put her on soy." "No, don't try soy...that can be harmful to kids."  "Try a light laxative." "Laxative causing the opposite problem?  Let's send her to a specialist."  "Try no dairy again." Good grief.  This all went on until right around the age of potty training.  And then, as a parent, I'm sure you can imagine that everything just got worse.  While Mackenzie had mastered the potty for peeing, she was scared and refused to go the latter.  She would usually go on average 1x a week and when she did go, she would hide from us and go in her underwear.  And then we would find our sad and ashamed girl trying to clean her underwear out by herself in the bathroom.  At the age of three. It was just way too much. 

And then one day her doctor finally mentioned gluten.  We left the doctor's office that day feeling even more overwhelmed and not knowing where to begin. But that was the day that we finally got an answer.  We went home and started reading labels.  Dumping entire boxes of cereal and dry goods.  We made multiple trips to whole foods and our local fruit market and our grocery budget was blown out of the water that week.  But within 48 hours our girl was using the bathroom without pain.  No bleeding, no screaming.  She was even going in the middle of the night without her knowing.  She'll kill me for mentioning that (or any of this), but I have to mention it because her little body was finally regulating itself.  It was finally healing. And to us, this was a huge answer to prayer. 

How do you explain what being "gluten free" means to Mackenzie?
Mackenzie was old enough when we removed gluten from her diet that she remembers how bad gluten made her feel and how good it made her feel when she stopped eating it.  I think this has been a real key to her understanding her allergy and to her embracing it for herself.  We've had many conversations with Mackenzie to explain to her that some kid's bodies just work a little differently and that this is nothing to be sad or ashamed of.  We remind her that foods with gluten made her tummy hurt and made it hard to go potty and we try to be as encouraging as possible at all times.

What has been the most challenging part of integrating a gluten free diet into your child's life?
 I would say the biggest challenge for us continues to be going out to eat as a family.  Many restaurants we use to love are off limits and even the ones who do offer a gluten free menu don't offer much.  Usually the only thing our kids (yes, Levi is gf too...a post about him later), can eat is grilled chicken skewers or a cheeseburger and fries sans bun.  It can be pretty disappointing.

Does your family have a favorite gluten free restaurant or bakery that you would like to share? 
Our absolute favorite Denver area restaurant for a gluten free option is Snooze A.M. Eatery (check out their site for other US locations).  Snooze has, hands down the best breakfast/brunch food we've ever tried (and we lived in Chicago, so that's saying a lot).  We LOVE Snooze because most of their menu options can be made gluten free for a very small extra charge.  Mackenzie loves to get the flight of pancakes (usually chocolate chip pancakes & the pineapple upside down pancakes).  And of course, our "go to" fast food option is Chick-fil-A because the kids love their grilled chicken nuggets and fries. For burgers we love Larkburger.  Kid's eat free on Mondays with an adult meal purchase (a gluten free bun is $1, so it isn't completely free).  The burgers are to die for. 

Can you share a favorite gluten free recipe that your family makes at home?
One of our favorite gluten free recipes is The Gluten Free Goddess Chicken Enchiladas.  I have never included the artichoke hearts and I usually use less spice because it is otherwise too hot for kids but we love this meal and it is a family favorite!
What tips would you share for a parent who is embarking on a gluten free diet for his/her child/children?
First of all, your kid can have lots of meats, fruits & veggies and dairy (if he or she is not also dairy free).  So don't be discouraged-- it's actually a healthier way to eat and in time, finding meals and food options does get easier and less overwhelming.  Second, the very best thing I think you can do for your child is put a positive perspective on it.  If we as parents have a negative attitude so will our children.  And I don't know about you, but the last thing I want is for my kids to grow up feeling like something is "wrong" with them simply because they can't eat the same foods as their friends. 

Do you have any favorite resources (websites, books, magazines etc...) that you can share to help another parent along this journey?
YES! One of our very favorite books is called The Gluten Glitch written by Stasie John.

The Gluten Glitch (click the link to order your own copy) is an excellent resource to teach about his/her allergy and to encourage kids who are gluten free to embrace it and know they aren't alone. For any parents who are looking for a great book to read to their gluten free child (or any other allergy), this book is a must!
If you would like your child to be highlighted as our gluten free kid of the week please email to:
Visit back next week to meet gluten free kiddo Kaylee!

No comments:

Post a Comment