Tuesday, October 28, 2008

About this blog...

We started with limited dairy consumption when our son still had "colic" at 5 months old. Turned out, he had an intolerance to dairy protein. Not uncommon. I STILL cringe at how long he had to suffer because his issues were blown off to colic. I shudder all the more when I see message boards full of moms with "colicky" babies and then a handful of them remove dairy from their infant only to find the "colic" disappear.

Later that year, our son was diagnosed with a few pretty severe developmental delays that nobody understood. They did suspect mild cerebral palsy. He was about 9 months old and started suffering rather severe constipation that grew worse and worse.

He was evaluated by the state's birth-to-three/Early Intervention (EI) team. They had no idea what the problem was, just that there was DEFINITELY a problem. We then took him to Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) in Baltimore at 11 months old and they agreed--definitely some major problems.

Our son didn't know we were in the room. He didn't make noise. He didn't have a "hungry" cry vs. a "tired" cry vs. a "dirty diaper" cry. I know what that means now that I have another child who is neurotypical. I was a stay-at-home breastfeeding mother and if I went grocery shopping, my son had no excitement when I returned. Nothing. Getting him to smile was the most incredible challenge.

Grasping for straws and using the internet to do so, I came across the gluten-free/casein-free diet. The concept of food having such a profound effect on behavior and development sounded ludicrous; and more as a means of proving it was wrong, I eliminated what tiny amounts of dairy protein remained in our diet.

One week later was the first time he ever laid his head on my shoulder. A few days after that was the first time he ever looked me in the eye. He was almost one year old. He had just been to an allergist the month before and just to have an objective opinion of the perceived changes--we went back. He said "Yup--different child. Probably took 7-10 days, right?". It was January 2005. We had no idea what we were missing. And having seen how that TINY amount of casein in his diet changed him, we were willing to try removing gluten... horrifying as that sounded.

In the meantime, his constipation got so bad that his ped wanted to send him to Hershey, PA to some kind of inpatient feeding clinic. Her concern was that if he continued to have constipation this badly (we're talking a 2-adult task at every poop) that his nerve endings in his little anus would be permanently damaged and he'd never feel an oncoming bowel movement. I begged for 1 month more because Early Intervention was starting feeding therapy. Ultimately, I was the parent so I got to make the decision. We removed gluten from his diet (so pretty much just some of the cereal, whatever pasta was in the purees, crackers, and Puffs) and voila... no more constipation. We were floored. That was Feb. 2005.

We continue on with evaluations at KKI. In July, the neurologist there tells us to refocus ourselves on food irritants since they are clearly affecting our son in a major way. Two weeks later, we remove soy. Eight weeks after that, he shows 10 months worth of developmental gain. We went soy-free in late July 2005.

In the meantime, the therapies were catching up his development now that the barriers were removed.

I honestly don't recall when we removed corn. I used to keep a blog on our son so I'd have to pick through that to find out. But corn was a MAJOR behavior factor.

We were not particularly UNhealthy eaters before all of this... or so we thought. We now realize what this country considers "healthy" eating is not necessarily truly healthful eating. They focus on fat content, sodium, calories, portion control, sugars... but not the actual FOOD. Is it fresh? What are the ingredients? Are the ingredients altered in some way? (genetically--such that our body may not recognize the substance and therefore break it down properly? or via pesticides--which can cause the same problem in addition to their potential for toxicity?).

Our family is grateful for having had these problems. And having eaten this way for nearly 5 years, I'm now horrified when I hear "What DO you eat?!?"--because I realize how unhealthfully the person asking is eating; and they likely don't even know it.

So here's some help for those trying to eat healthier or around multiple allergens. You think you eat well now? Read the ingredients on the labels of your food. ;)

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