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Convinced that it was the food he ate that was making him sick, Theresa Willingham sought help from other parents, their children, and ...
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Convinced that it was the food he ate that was making him sick, Theresa Willingham sought help from other parents, their children, and internationally known medical experts on food sensitivities. All agreed that it was possible for children to live on special diets, yet lead normal, healthy lives. As Theresa watched her small son's health restored after removing all wheat and dairy from his diet, she concurred and decided to share her findings with others. The result is this lifestyle manual which promotes the philosophy that a diet that doesn't make children sick shouldn't make them feel different, either
Every kid wants to fit in . . . but food allergies can set them apart. Here's practical information to assure your child's health and make him or her feel like part of the gang:
Gleaned from parents of allergic and celiac children and the children themselves who know that a diet that doesn't make them sick shouldn't make them feel different, either.
Part II Food Sensitive and Free: Making a Team of Family Members, Friends, Caregivers, and Peers
Chapter V: Family, Friends, and Caregivers: "Grandma's Not Trying to Kill you, She Just Doesn't Know What Gluten Is (or Casein, or …..)
Chapter VI: Out in the World: How to Help Your Child Fit in When He Can't Have His Cake and Eat It, Too
Chapter VII: Eating Out: "Burger…Hold the Bun, Please"
Part III Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Cooking for Health and Happiness
Chapter VIII: Menu Planning: How to Feed Everyone Without Cooking Twice
Chapter IX: Grocery Shopping: A Label Primer
Chapter X: Kitchen Zen Revisited
Chapter XI: Ready, Set, Cook!
Chapter XII: Wheat-Free, Milk-Free, Peanut-Free, Egg-Free, Corn-Free, Soy-Free….and Stress-Free The Last Word
Bibliography and Suggested Reading
Fact Sheets: Corn, Dairy, Egg, Peanut, Soy, and Wheat
Resources and Associations
He was also a messy, noisy, squirming feeder and, with two other young children to care for, it was difficult to nurse him patiently. When Chris was around six or seven months old, I started supplementing him with formula, with the doctor's okay and my own experience to reassure me and I failed to make the connection when he started having digestive problems.
He had chronic diaper rashes that I fought daily to control, and noisy, gassy, and frequent bowel movements. And yet he thrived, never got colds or fevers, and was endlessly good-natured. It was a dichotomy that would puzzle me for more than two years. Putting him on solid foods didn't seem to help at all, even though he was a voracious eater and scarfed down Cheerios like a vacuum cleaner! It wasn't until I was leafing half-heartedly through a medical book, wondering vaguely what I was looking for, that I came across a description of a condition called celiac disease. I stopped. I stared. I read the passage a half dozen times. Then I snatched away the Cheerios. The medical description of this wheat sensitivity described Chris to a T, and the Cheerios weren't helping anything. In fact, they were part of the problem.
Now, to be honest, I had heard of wheat sensitivity before, and had even fleetingly considered it our culprit as early as his first birthday, but I discounted it just as quickly for some reason and gave him his big, wheaty birthday cake as planned. Now there was no denying it. All the symptoms of celiac disease, this "rare" wheat sensitivity, fit:
Sometimes developmental delays were associated with the disorder, and while it was nothing conclusive, Chris had, indeed, been slow to walk (although he was an aggressive and headlong crawler!) and at 2 ½, was stuttering badly when he talked. He was quite tall, but very slender with the "wasted buttocks" look often associated with celiac disease. There was no way to tell if any of these things, or the myriad unsettling suspicions I'd long entertained were, in reality, connected. But there was one way I could find out if wheat was the problem.
Keeping a Food Diary
I began to keep a journal of what Chris ate, when his bowel movements occurred, and what they looked like. At the same time I started the dietary journal, I began scouring the Internet for information about wheat sensitivities and came across a very informative article that suggested eliminating wheat from the diet for six weeks, and keeping a record of the results. My record keeping was vindicated! We eliminated the wheat and in little more than a week's time, Chris's bowel movements had gone from more than four a day, to just two or three. In two weeks, he became slightly constipated, which was a real switch. After six weeks, his symptoms had almost completely cleared and we headed to the doctor with our findings.
She concurred and told us we could either continue with the wheat-free diet, which wouldn't hurt him and obviously relieved the symptoms. Or, she said, we could verify our suspicions more precisely with a biopsy, the only way to definitively diagnose celiac disease, which is what his wheat sensitivity resembled. Because of his age and the success of the relatively simple treatment, we opted to stay with the diet, especially since there is yet no cure for celiac disease. Nor is there a cure for lactose intolerance, or casein sensitivity, or corn or rice sensitivities or the myriad other food sensitivities that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, afflict up to 6% of children under the age of three.
I Was Not Alone
As I struggled to get a handle on Chris's problems, other parents around the world were struggling with their children's food sensitivities.
And all were making the same fundamental discovery: there's no substitute for parents when it comes to both learning about and handling food sensitivities in children. No one is as interested in our children as we are. Frequently, parents find that well-meaning doctors label food sensitivity symptoms as "common" colic, or ear infections, or viruses. Antibiotics are prescribed when wheat should be withheld. Colic drops are offered when milk may be the culprit. Parents who take charge, who take the time to be-come educated about their children's medical conditions, can take justifiable pride when they discover their child is really a Celiac Kid, or a Casein Kid, instead.
But once that discovery is made, that's where the adventure really begins. Feeding a toddler fruits and vegetables is relatively easy. Helping young children negotiate the maze of birthday parties, restaurant outings, vacations, picnics and well-intentioned cookie and milk givers an ordinary kid encounters, in addition to feeding other unafflicted members of the family, requires a little more thought and planning. And that's what this book is all about: How to live with a food-sensitive child so that you, your child, and the rest of the family can live rewarding, healthy, and nutritious lifestyles.
What I offer you here is practical, everyday guidance to help both you and your food-sensitive children live that kind of life, too. The goal of this "field guide" is to teach you and your children to deal with your children's special dietary needs on a daily basis without compromising their childhood or that of their siblings. The trick, for children, is eating differently without seeming different.
The field guide will also help empower food-sensitive children, using tips and insights from children just like themselves who have found that a diet that doesn't make them sick shouldn't make them seem different, either.
All children are individuals and all conditions can manifest themselves differently. This is a dietary and lifestyle guide, not a medical book. But, general medical information is referenced in footnotes and in the appendix, for further study. I cannot suggest strongly enough that you and your child work with a good pediatric gastroenterologist or allergist for definitive medical advice and assistance, or at least have access to physicians, dietitians, nutritionists, and medical facilities that are knowledgeable about food sensitivities.
Posted March 7, 2001
I really like the Food Allergy Field Guide. We've got a couple of different food allergies in the family and this book gives good, solid, practical advice for dealing with the every day events in our lives. It also puts food sensitivities in perspective, using humor and common sense to put *us* in control of our diets, rather than letting our diets control us. It's a good read, has some great recipes in it, and is a terrific resource guide to keep on hand.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.