The Lettuce Inn

Where Lucy discovers the truth about food...and other stuff too!

16 January 2012

Food Intolerance Issues
Does your family have them?

These days more and more people are having issues coping with certain foods, especially our children.  My whole family have problems coping with certain foods, but it is especially hard to know how to treat the kids.  Do you eliminate the problem foods and risk even worse reactions in the future, or do you listen to others who say not to worry about it, they are fine, and give them a “normal diet” while watching their little bodies struggle.  Children have different dietary needs to us grown ups and eliminating foods could eliminate much needed nutrients to help them grow big and strong and healthy.  But what is the effect on them in the long term?  Will they grow out of it or will they have issues into their adulthood?

Here are our stories:

I grew up eating a very healthy diet including the old favourite “meat and three veg” – chewy meat and mushy veg.  I wasn’t allowed much junk food but there were times when I remember coming home from school and just scooping sugar from the sugar bowl down my throat!  I was out of home in my late teens and ate everything I could get my hands on – the unhealthier the better.  After a few years of this and having become a hypochondriac, I came to my senses and started eating healthy again.  From my mid 20’s I tried eating different styles of vegetarian and even went vegan for a couple of years. 

Over time I started to notice that my body was not tolerating foods like it used to, especially dairy and soy.  For a while there I was eating soy cheese, yoghurt and milk and I ended up with mastitis.  This was way before I even had kids.  Stopping the soy stopped the mastitis so I have stayed clear from soy since, expect for the occasional indulgence in soy ice cream.  Around the same time I found that dairy products would give me a mild stomach ache and lots of wind.  So to avoid any further embarrassment I significantly reduced the amount of dairy I was eating.  Now I only eat a bit of cheese occasionally (I have found it really hard to eliminate cheese totally) and will eat food, usually cakes, that contain dairy occasionally too.   About a year ago I noticed that I was getting really bloated all the time, and I discovered it was gluten/wheat that seemed to be doing this.  So for the past year I have reduced my gluten/wheat intake from numerous times a day to once every few days and I feel so much better for it.

My children have also had their challenges with food, mostly my oldest son, Ethan, who is 5.  When Ethan was born he would poo all the time and it was always runny.  Being my first child I did not know what to expect and if this was normal or not.  After about a year I started to notice that if he had a breastfeed after I had eaten a lot of dairy, say a pizza loaded with cheese, he would have diarrhoea straight away.  There seemed to be a regular reaction and I thought that he must be lactose intolerant.  

I took him to a naturopath when he was 2.5 and on their instruction eliminated gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast and oats from his diet.  Not only did this improve his bowels but it also calmed him down significantly.  Over this time I searched for a test to tell me exactly what foods Ethan had issues with and we went to numerous health professionals who said they could help me, but in the end were not able to give me a definite list of foods, or they would tell me that because I wasn’t changing his nappies any more then it shouldn’t be a problem for me and I shouldn’t worry about it.  Also, when Ethan went to his father’s house, I was unable to know for sure whether the diet recommendations were being followed.  When Ethan pointed out the gluten free cafe that daddy was taking him to, which turned out to be McDonalds, I confirmed my suspicions that our diet plan was not being followed.  Still I persisted.  

When Ethan turned 4 I wanted to do a celiac test on him, and I had to introduce gluten and wheat back into his diet for 6 weeks before doing the test.  During this time he seemed to cope well with these foods.  The test came back negative.  I decided to reintroduce all foods into Ethan’s diet and shortly after came across a blood test that tested for over 90 foods for food intolerances.  I was excited.  It cost me a fortune, but at the time I thought it was worth it.  It came back saying that Ethan had a mild intolerance to peas and dairy.  So I just limited these from his diet.  I have since been told that there is no reliable test to determine which foods someone is intolerant to.  

So after letting Ethan eat normally again, he started to get tummy aches from time to time, and after about a year his tummy aches became more and more regular.  18 months after reintroducing all foods into his diet, his tummy aches became a regular daily event.  This started one day last October, when Ethan ate some chocolate and got a tummy ache straight away.  He has had a tummy ache daily since then.  I again took him to doctors trying to find out the cause of these daily tummy aches, and the closest I came to an answer was during an ultrasound of Ethan’s tummy.  I was told that Ethan had a lot of gas in his tummy which was being caused by the foods he was eating.  Unfortunately this comment was not included in the report to my doctor, so my doctor ended up telling me not to worry about it, that he had seen kids in pain, and that Ethan was fine.  

I decided to remove gluten and dairy from his diet until I came across a naturopath who I was recommended to take Ethan to see.  This naturopath wanted to work on strengthening Ethan’s digestive system so that he could eat anything without getting tummy aches.  He also said that Ethan had chronically inflamed tonsils and that his liver was struggling. Since he had just come back from 2 weeks with his father where he had been eating anything and everything, we decided to let Ethan eat a regular diet whilst working on his gut.  The naturopath prescribed some homeopathics and I been giving Ethan these for the past week and a half, but at this stage nothing has changed.  I am taking him back to the naturopath later this week, so hopefully there is some change, otherwise I’m not sure what else to do.  

I just want Ethan to feel better and for his tummy aches to go away.  I worry about him because I see him in pain and Ethan tells me often how much pain he is in.  I will post an update in a few weeks time.

My youngest son, Tiriki, who is just about to turn 2 seems to have issues with dairy and gluten/wheat.  Too much dairy and it affects his bowels and only a small amount of gluten makes him extremely bloated.  He only has small amounts of dairy and I have reduced the amount of gluten/wheat he eats from many times a day to around once a day.  Tiriki loves his carbs and could probably live on pasta and bread all day, so I have had to get creative with what to feed him.  I make gluten free bread and I am giving him more protein during the day to try and fill his ever hungry tummy!

Even my husband has had his own issues.  He regularly admits that he has an iron stomach and can eat anything, but once we started living together I encouraged and influenced him to eat healthier.  He went from using his asthma pumps numerous times a day to hardly ever now.  He no longer drinks a litre of milk a day and eats less sugar and more veggies.  Even though he has an iron stomach he has noticed that foods such as dairy and wheat do not totally agree with him. 

So what is it that causes food intolerance issues?  Is it passed on from our parents?  I know my mother was lactose intolerance, so is it to be expected that my children and I are too?  Are we eating the wrong foods for our bodies?  Have we modified our foods to much from their original state? Is it all of the chemicals floating around our environment?  

Stay tuned for my next post where I explore these issues and look for some answers.


Have you heard of the GAPS diet -
Hi Helena,I haven't heard of that diet but I will look into it as I have also come across a reference to it while researching coeliac's disease which I have just been diagnosed with.

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