Suzita over at Play. Fight. Repeat. turned me on to this amazing book, What’s Eating Your Child? by Kelly Dorfman, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s changed our lives. (At least it did until we fell off the wagon this past week with out-of-town visitors and end of the school year parties, ack. So I’m posting this today, to try and help us get back on track.) Anyway. The book is about the connections between what your child is eating and how this manifests in his/her health. For example, if your child has frequent stomach aches (like ours did) or frequent ear infections, they might just have a food allergy or intolerance. And one of the biggest perpetrators these days is dairy.
This probably isn’t what you were hoping to hear–I certainly wasn’t. When Nico spent most of last fall and winter complaining about stomachaches, we couldn’t figure out what was wrong, even after we’d taken him to a handful of different docs. When a specialist recommended we sedate him and do an invasive test, Ken and I started looking around for other options. I mean, hell, put my kid under because of a few stomachaches? Don’t think so, buddy.
Then a friend told me about an IGG blood test that somehow measures for food sensitivities (v. the traditional IGE test that measures for outright allergies, if I’m getting this right), and told me how the test helped her figure out what was going on with her son. Since a blood test seemed way simpler than doing some invasive procedure, we did it–and found out that dairy and wheat were probably what was causing Nico’s stomach aches. So we cut them out of his diet.
Right about this time, I happened to run into Suzita and was telling her how challenging it was to cook without wheat or dairy, especially since we’d already altered our diet to accommodate Gabriel’s nut allergy. Suzita (a psychologist) mentioned that I might be interested in Dorfman’s book, especially since it had helped so many families that she’d worked with, so I went to pick it up. And had epiphany after epiphany before I’d even read the first 50 pages.
I read about the kid whose frequent nosebleeds stopped once his family cut out dairy, then waved this in Ken’s face, my dear, sweet, frequently-nosebleeding husband. I also read about kids who didn’t sleep well until Dorfman (a nutritionist) figured out what foods were bothering them, and took them out of their diet.
Well, since Gabriel’s always been a terrible sleeper, I immediately wondered what would happen if we took dairy out of his diet.
Ken kind of poo-poohed me, even though he doesn’t do well with dairy and neither do I. I was allergic to dairy as a baby, just like Gabriel was. But since a traditional allergy test we did a while back showed him as having outgrown his milk allergy, we’d been giving Gabriel milk again, and the kid was now drinking a good 3-4 glasses a day. And while he seemed fairly happy, he still wasn’t eating as well as he could be, and he was still sleeping like shit.
So I figured that taking dairy out of his diet was worth a try, especially since this food sensitivity stuff is often hereditary, and we already knew that dairy intolerance ran in both sides of our families. Besides, we were already dairy-free with Nico, and he was doing fine. In fact, he was doing better than fine–his stomachaches had all but disappeared. And he’s only had one nosebleed in the few months we’ve been doing this experiment.
So I cut dairy out of Gabriel’s diet and the kid–I shit you not–began to sleep. He’s still not the world’s most amazing sleeper, but he’s doing a hell of a lot better than he was. Now, instead of waking up 2 or 3 times a night, he gets up once, around 5:00 a.m. And that, my friends, has made this whole project totally worth it. Despite the fact that changing your diet isn’t the easiest thing in the world.
And sure, we’ve fallen off the wagon plenty of times since we’ve started this whole thing. Let’s be honest–it’s not the most exciting thing in the world to cut dairy and wheat out of your diet, and it’s something else altogether when it comes to the kids. Especially when you have to tell your 5-year-old that he can’t eat any birthday cake (again) or celebrate the end of his Little League season with his buds by eating ice cream. So we’ve given in, here and there, and let them have some pizza or ice cream, so they can just be kids without having to worry about all this other stuff.
But today, we’re getting back on track. Wish me luck.