Sunday, June 2, 2013

How Wheat Ruined My Baby Boy's First Year

Almost 4 years ago, I had a baby boy who cried inconsolably day and night. He was fussy, gassy and his baby skin was covered in eczema.

"He's just colicky."

I know it sounds cheesy or perhaps airy-fairy, but deep down I knew something just wasn't right. I'd lived through a colicky baby, and this was different. It was like he was in constant pain.

So I sought out the help of our family doc, who said,

"He has reflux. Here is a prescription for Zantac."

We tried that, but it didn't really do much. After a few months on it, he was sent to a pediatrician who put him on Prevacid, a different anti-acid. But that made him worse.

We lived in a haze. Sleep deprived, cranky, in survival mode. Dreading every night because it was always the same.

By this point he was about 9 months old. He was still an unhappy little baby, covered with eczema. And when he got little colds, they went straight to his chest. He had awful coughing and wheezing fits. The doctor said he was probably asthmatic.

I had taken him to a massage therapist, a chiropractor, an osteopath and a Naturopath.

I thought I was out of options, but thankfully, I decided to try our Naturopath again.

I don't know why I waited that long. It really is strange because I had been seeing an ND regularly before getting pregnant, and in fact got pregnant because of her treatments!

I finally booked an appointment with her. Looking back it was the best decision I could have made for his health.

I basically cried when I saw her. I was exhausted. I felt like a failure because I could not help him, I could barely console him when he was in full blown crying mode, which happened often.

I knew what she would suggest would involve a deeper sort of healing, turns out I really had no idea how deep that would go.

"I believe he has a food intolerance/sensitivity, because you're breastfeeding we need to get you on an elimination diet to see what it is. Or we could do testing."

The testing was a bit pricey for us at that time, so I decided to do the diet. I thought it would be easy.


We ate pretty healthy already, so I was really skeptical and hesitant. The list didn't seem to long, but the foods to be eliminated were pretty much in everything we ate: dairy, eggs, soy, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, sugar (for good measure), wheat....WAIT...what? WHEAT!?

Oh man.

In addition she put him on probiotics (to help heal and restore his gut flora after being born by cesarean and the antibiotics he received via me) and Omega 3 fish oil (to help reduce the inflammation in his body).

We started with foods I didn't really eat much of anyways. Soy was easy because I didn't eat it anyways. I just made sure I didn't have anything with hidden soy, but that wasn't too bad, I just had to read labels carefully. First full-on elimination was dairy, but that didn't do much for his symptoms. Then after a few weeks of no dairy, we tried wheat. This was harder to do. Bread, lasagna, spaghetti, quiche...the list went on. Some of our favorite foods had wheat in them somewhere. Whether the main dish or hidden, wheat seemed to be everywhere. But I stuck to it somehow, it helped to have the support of the hubby.

I tried it for the recommended week and...

He got better!!! It was like night and day. 

His eczema disappeared. He started SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!
He wasn't crying all night long.

It was bliss. Well, not really. Cooking wheat-free was a real challenge. Back then, the wheat-free and gluten-free options available were pretty much nil (options are much better today).

But I trucked along. I had many relapses. And suffered the consequences! By this point our whole family reacted to wheat if we ate it, not as bad as our son, but we felt awful and began calling it "wheat belly", code for diarrhea, bloating, gas, abdominal pain. Very unpleasant things. Which made us wonder if we'd always been wheat-intolerant and just didn't know it.

And every time I had a slip, I would see my baby boy suffer. It was like clockwork. Within hours of consuming wheat, he would get a hard, hard belly, he would cry and scream and have gas like crazy. The next day he would have a horribly runny poop. And about 2 days after the wheat ingestion he would get fresh new patches of eczema.

After a while, I couldn't deny it anymore. I couldn't live wishing he would outgrow his sensitivity. Perhaps he would, but at that time, we needed to be totally wheat free for him, for us.

We were strict wheat free eaters for a loooong time. And we saw amazing changes in our son.

Now four years later our family is still wheat-free, for the most part. His gut has healed, so he can tolerate tiny amounts of wheat, once in a while. But the thing is we all feel so much better eating wheat-free that we choose to keep eating this way.

{A good summary article here: Fifty Shades of Gluten (Intolerance)}

I have learned so much about wheat intolerance over the last four years, and much of it points to the fact that it is actually very common, people just don't know it. Not to mention, the many other foods that are commonly associated with food intolerances (soy and corn, for example).

I know my family's story, my son's story, is a little anecdote in the billions of people out there. But whenever I hear of a Mama who is at her wit's end and the baby's symptoms sound familiar, I share my story. Hopefully it may help someone, somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. As someone who is gluten intolerant, I empathize with your son (and you!) What a tough first year. So glad you were able to find peace and health through giving up the wheat. Happy tummies to your boy!


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