What screams childhood more than a good old rice treat cereal?
How about upset stomach from gluten?! Oh wait, I digress.
I have to admit, I have gone kicking and screaming into a gluten free lifestyle. Why in the world would you choose to eliminate an entire food group, only to then attempt to replace it with expensive substitutes if you didn’t have to?!
I know, I know. Lots of research out there on the bad side effects of gluten, even on the “regular” person. I have found pros- for glutens and grains- and cons- against them all together including legumes and nuts.
I am not a nutritionist.
But I am practical and I am the mom of four kiddos.
My “food” journey actually started back when my eldest daughter was little. She had started talking and every once in a while, her language would become absolutely crazy incoherent. Like she was drunk. It came on suddenly and didn’t happen all of the time.
Now, being an OT for sometime at that point, I started to rule different things out. It looked like attention deficit disorder- but I knew it didn’t fit. It looked like a sensory issue- which she did have- but that was not fully it either.
So then I went old school. Sugar. Good old too much sugar.
So, we cut out a major staple snack in her life- fruit juice gummy snacks. They were quick, easy and relatively harmless I thought.
Her language was fine and the crazies were gone.
Then, one day, after nothing of consequence happened, the crazy drunk speech was back. What had happened?!
So, hubby and I looked back at all things done and all things eaten. My daughter had just eaten microwave popcorn. I flipped the box and the ingredients were simple really- corn, butter flavor- including yellow #40.
Flipped a box of gummies over… nothing the same… except for… yellow #40.
Hmmmmm. So we went on a label hunt. We brought NOTHING into the house with yellow #40 and at the time it was everywhere. My dear daughter had no more drunk events. We snuck it back in after a 3 month period- whammo. Crazy incoherent speech. NUTS right?
So over the years, we have looked to our food as our source of things questionable. It is after all our source of energy!
I have to be honest, my weight is NO WHERE near where it needs to be. I have had 4 kids, via c-section, knee surgery, what I would say was post partum depression- though no one said it was- and a bunch of years of feeling junky- blaming it on one thing or another. Horrible sleep. Migraines. Gastrointestinal issues. General grumpiness.
So about a year ago, I decided to go back to what I know has worked in the past. Cutting out carbs. The South Beach Diet to be exact. Did it with carb elimination and felt better. Re-introduced as the plan says- whole wheats- and gained a bunch of weight back. What the?!
So, I yo-yo’d with this for a while. Then, in hearing about my cousin’s daughter being diagnosed with celiac disease, I started thinking maybe I did indeed have a gluten issue. So, I googled it.
Sure enough many of the symptoms, I had. Wow.
I was screened not too long ago and turns out that there is a possiblity that I do have it. Headed to the doctor for sure to see.
But wait- here’s the kicker. (You knew there had to be a kicker right?!)
I recently bought a box of gluten free Bisquick because I was sick and needed some comfort food. At nearly $6.00 for a 12 oz box, it is not something my family could easily substitute into our rotation but I wanted to give it a try.
It was good, like yeah, I could do that, sort of good. And then it happened. I felt that need to sleep for a week, funny in the head like I had just had several Jack Daniels, sort of feeling. It was one I associated with gluten previously. What the heck?!
So I flipped the package. Nothing strange except for xanthan gum. I had seen the ingredient in a bunch of different places so I looked it up and I looked up allergies to it. I was seriously feeling paranoid and well, like I was making it all up in my head.
Then, there it was. “Could xanthan gum sensitivity be complicating your celiac disease recovery?”
I was NOT crazy. Upon further digging, I discovered that people with mold allergies are more likely to have this issue. Yup, mold is a major allergen for me. Made sense. I even found the article that said you may have a “foggy head” as a side effect. That described it perfectly.
So, honestly, with xanthan gum in all sorts of mysterious places, I started looking at labels. I found it in chocolate syrup (organic), in whipped cream cheese (but not block) in some creamy dressings, but not all. I have found it in many, many gluten free baking products.
I have managed to stay both gluten and xanthan gum free for about 10 days now. For the first time in about 5 years, I felt skinny the other day. I am not skinny, but it has been a long time since I could even conceive of feeling that way. So, regardless of what the doctor says- celiac or not- I am going to keep eating “clean” for a while.
In the mean time… my family of 6 keeps me wondering what we can all eat. I look at food differently now. I can’t help it. So I am always on the lookout for new things for all of us to try and enjoy.
Now, don’t mock me for what I ended up making… I said gluten and xanthan free. I didn’t say healthy 🙂
Using gluten free Rice Krispies, I made treats! So easy, so fast. No gluten. No xanthan gum. No artificial colors. I didn’t say no corn syrup!
3 Tablespoons butter
5 cups Gluten Free Rice Krispies (regular rice krispies are processed in the same factory as their gluten containing cereals, so they do not label the traditional cereal as gluten free.)
7 ounce jar of Fluff.
Melt butter in large sauce pan. Remove from heat and then mix in fluff until smooth. Add in rice cereal and stir until well coated.
Spread mixture into buttered 9×12 inch pan and let sit until cool. Cut into squares and enjoy! My 7 year old help me make our batch and she nearly did it all! It was great for measuring and stirring and teaching safe cooking habits without a long long cooking project.
The good news is… my kiddos couldn’t even taste the difference. No gluten? No big deal!
Sorry for the long post. I felt compelled to tell you about the food sensitivities I have discovered with my family and the weird stuff we have seen as a result, since I know many families are struggling. It is easy to look to a complicated diagnosis when behavior is off but sometimes we just have to start at the basics… what we put into our bodies… or what we leave out. I have to be honest, the amount of junk in our food really worries me.
If something is wrong, start a food journal. Start an activity journal. Every behavior has a cause. Write it down and look for patterns with your doctor to help sort through it all.
If you are considering an elimination sort of diet, especially for your children, please consult a physician or a nutritionist to make sure your child is getting the proper amount of nutrients. Deficiencies in nutrients cause their own sorts of mystery behaviors and reactions. Ask me how I know… another post maybe.
Thanks for reading my long winded post!