I wanted to update you, reader, on Bug’s quest for health. After Bug gained so much weight last summer, I had to buy his jeans and shorts in the men’s department and then hem them to fit. It was terrifying me that my 9 year old couldn’t wear a size 9 or even a size 16 in boys! After years of worrying about his weight and watching it increase despite, what I felt, were healthy changes we sought out a professional nutritionist.
It’s a delicate thing. It can be damaging to a child’s psyche to put them on a diet. I wanted to be sure we did this right. Or maybe he didn’t need to diet at all. Maybe he’ll grow out of it, as so many friends and family thought.
The last I blogged Bug had taken blood tests with the Dr. revealing that his body was fighting some sort of inflammation. Bug’s numbers were reportedly higher than the Dr. had seen in a patient in a very long time and never in a child. The she said, most often when they see these sorts of results it’s due to a gluten intolerance. Bug was also becoming insulin resistant and showed high levels of a hormone called Leptin that caused him to feel hungry all of the time.
I’ve already blogged on how annoying that whole concept is to me and how gluten is not really the problem but that the seeds of the food grown in America is tampered with to carry pesticide so that when the plant grows it can fend off pests on its own. The whole “gluten intolerance” trend is due to our bodies being unable to process these mutant foods. No other country in the world is experimenting with their food like this. Those who are gluten intolerant in America can travel to other countries and have no problems with the foods there because it’s real food. (Though I’ve heard Italy has started shipping in flour even from America so…ugh.)
For 10 weeks Bug was gluten free and then we went back in March to take the blood tests again to see if there was any improvement. The changes we saw were that Bug’s appetite was more manageable; he was not constantly seeking food. His perpetual stuffy nose was cleared and he had less bloody noses. He had more energy and he said that his stomach wasn’t cramping any more, something he didn’t know was abnormal until it quit.
In March they drew more blood and weighed Bug again. He had actually gained weight. Some of his numbers improved but they were still in the inflammation zone. We were very discouraged. The Dr. suggested Bug go low dairy and completely grain free. When he had dairy she suggested that it be unpasteurized. The pasteurization process changes the food and how the body breaks it down. Since his gut was damaged by the gluten, it could be that it was not handling pasteurized dairies as well as it could in a healthy gut. He was also prescribed a probiotic and GI Revive to help heal his damaged innards.
Bug was devastated. He silently cried in the back seat on the way home. Very unlike him, he spoke not a word. I tried to be encouraging but it was hard as I was discouraged as well, annoyed in fact, because Bug’s new diet was hard for both of us and we tried so hard. When we got home he silently marched off to his room, slammed the door, and locked it.
After picking the lock…I let myself into his room, sat on the edge of his bed and rubbed his back.
“I’m not doing it,” Bug spat.
“That’s not an option.”
“Yes it is. This is my body and I control my body.”
K. He had me there.
“I don’t care that I’m fat. I think I’m perfectly fine the way I am,” he said through clenched teeth.
“Oh Bug! I do too! I love your chubby cheeks and snuggly belly! The thing is though, extra fat on the body can be indicative of problems on the INSIDE. That’s what the blood tests showed too. Do you know what could happen if the insulin resistance becomes diabetes? It’s not good! It can be very dangerous.”
“I have a friend at school who has diabetes and he just takes a shot. I’ll just do that.”
“Bug. It’s not like that. That’s a different type of diabetes. You told me you feel better. Is that true?”
“And you don’t have a snotty nose all of the time now. Right?”
“I know this is really hard. I know this is even more restrictive, but I really feel like this is what we need to do to heal your body.”
“Can’t we just move to Scotland?”
“I wish! Let’s talk about all of the foods you CAN have! You can have beef, chicken, pork, fish, strawberries, bananas…” and on we went, naming favorite fruits and veggies.
So we began a whole new way of living…again.
The tricksy part about going grain free as opposed to gluten free is that a lot of gluten free substitute foods are made with rice, quinoa or corn. I’ve always been careful about things containing corn syrup anyway but that was completely eliminated as was anything with corn starch. We supplemented milk with almond or coconut milk. Those labels had to be carefully read as some of them contain corn syrup. We cook with olive oil (already did) and coconut oil.
We eschewed pasta and ate spaghetti squash instead and cauliflower pizza crusts. We bake with almond flour or cassava flour. These baked goods turn out very dense. I made Bug a BRICK of grain free banana bread. He absolutely loved it but it’s not the same. The reason is that it’s the gluten that makes bread fluffy and puts the air pockets in cake, bread, and the like. Also, everyone who’s gluten free says it tastes the same but that is a lie from hell itself. It tastes good but not like bread of flour.
Bug handled it all in his usual way, finding the silver linings and being his own little cheerleader.
“I’m going to feel so GREAT! One day my insides will be healed and I’ll be able to add some treats back. I can still eat cake and bread in the rest of the world! When I’m a chef, I’m going to have all sorts of yummy gluten free and grain free foods in my restaurant!”
I still encouraged Bug to keep it on the DL. There’s no reason to be obnoxious about it. We squashed walking into restaurants and making the announcement that he was so special and needed special foods! Instead we would look at the menu and see what was already available that was grain free and cheese free. Salad, steak, chicken, eggs, bacon, etc.
When he orders food he often has to ask how the food is prepared. If it’s fried in corn oil, it’s a no go. Technically, french fries are gluten and grain free. HOWEVER, a lot of restaurant fries are coated in flour first and are fried in corn oil. Bug cannot even have grain free food if it was cooked in he same oil as the restaurant fries. He has been amazing about learning these things and advocating for himself at restaurants.
On a school field trip to a baseball game, Bug ordered himself a hot dog (sans bun) and cotton candy. For three days his stomach gave him grief and he had a stuffy nose.
“I was glutenized,” he said sadly.
One sad event happened when he was voted Student of the Year. There was a special meal that the SOY’s of the district attended with their teachers. When the food was served it was salad and spaghetti. He couldn’t even just have a plate of meat sauce because it was already mixed into the pasta and had cheese melted all over it. Bug blushed red but graciously ate his salad. Afterward, we took him out to a Mexican restaurant that he likes where he can have fajita meat served in bib lettuce instead of tortillas.
At parties, Bug still hovers about the food tables. He’ll linger particularly long at dessert tables. He never eats it but sometimes he’ll fix a plate and then he brings it to Buddy, Man or I and offers it to us. If he can’t have it, he still wants to see others enjoy it. He’s become a little bit of a pusher in that way! I had to start remembering to bring food for Bug to have at parties.
Again, Bug has had tremendous support from friends, family and even strangers! Our dear neighbor, Caren, made Bug crepes and in doing so found that they were more like tortillas. Stacks of crepetillas were made so Bug could enjoy breakfast burritos and carnitas. My friend, Cindy who has celiacs, has been a great source of recipes and products we can use. When Bug went to away camp last month I was bowled over when the chef called and worked on a menu just or him!
The day we arrived at camp she asked that he come to the kitchen so he can meet the servers and they’ll know who the kid with the special meals were.
“I won’t be there because I’m making him potato chips right now,” said the camp chef.
“Oh no! Please! You don’t need to do that! He can have a veggie or fruit on the side instead of chips.”
“He will have enough foods that are different from every one else. If there’s something I can do to make his plate look more similar then I want to do that.”
And so Bug had his own home made potato chips and one night she called me to let me know that she had made him cauliflower pizza crust for pizza night. Turns out her daughter had also had to go grain free and dairy free for awhile and so she was pretty savvy to how to cook for him!
How good is God to put the right people in our life at the right time?!
When school let out and warm weather arrived (sort of…Colorado problems) I was thrilled to find that Bug’s man shorts from last summer were too big! I went to Target and bought him multiple pairs of size 16 boy shorts!!! I cried. I couldn’t help it. I was so proud of him and so relieved that we were making progress this time! My little boy can wear little boy shorts!
Today we went back for the results of new blood tests we took a few weeks ago. Before we walked into the office Bug yelled over his shoulder to Buddy, “Here we are, Buddy! This is the doctor’s office that changes lives!”
I cried again.
Bug was measured and weighed. He has grown an inch since March and in 4 months….Bug has lost 16 POUNDS!!! You better believe that this boy was BEAMING! As thrilled as I am for that, what I really wanted to know was how were his INSIDES?
While Bug’s numbers have improved even more, many are still in the red indicating that there is still some sort of inflammation.
“There are all kinds of preservatives in things…you just would be surprised,” the Dr. said.
“But he hardly ever has any packaged foods…”
“Well, that’s good! That’s really good! What I want you to do is to sit with our nutritionist and really comb through it all. She’ll be able to get him a more specific plan. Don’t be discouraged. He has made HUGE progress. The numbers in November, when we started this journey, were terribly alarming. There’s a lot less red on the charts now.”
Bug was hoping he could at least return dairy to his diet but he is happy with how far he has come and knows that, whatever other changes are recommended, he can do it!
“The first two or three weeks of this is pretty hard,” he told his Nana who is doing the Whole 30 diet, similar to Bug’s. “after that…meh! It’s not so bad!”