Anyone has experience with a gluten-free diet?

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Let me preface this by saying I am a pretty conventional medicine and nutrition kind of gal.

Many of you may know that I have a 4 year old daughter who has global developmental delays, the most severe of which is with speech/language. She's about a year behind her peers in terms of motor skills, size and language (comprehension) but she's closer to 2 years behind in terms of speech (expression). She also has food allergies - she's grown out of a number of them but we're still managing a few (eggs, nuts, peanuts, sesame, mustard). It would not surprise me if there are more that have yet to be determined.

My neighbour's son has autism and she recently has put him on a gluten free diet. I kid you not, the boy went from the occasional mumble to full on speaking over the course of 4 weeks. I'm amazed at the results and so is his Mom.

So I've decided to try the gf diet with my daughter. Only she doesn't have autism, or any behavioural/social issues. So I don't have my hopes up that it will help her, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try.

I feel badly restricting her food choices even more. A part of me truly hopes this doesn't work. But we're already no strangers to restrictive diets since we've been managing her allergies for so long. But I feel like its worth a shot.

So my question to you fellow gf dieters: what made you decide to cut out gluten? when did you start noticing an improvement in your health? any other comments/advice you could give me?


there was a story on my local news about a mother that made dietary changes and saw BIG changes in her son. it was compelling. i don't have kids yet but honestly i think about the connection between a.d.d. and other issues and the big dietary changes in kids foods today vs. 20-30 years ago.

also, honeycurls turned me on to wheat belly. i was originally interested in the weight reduction part but there's also a chapter about wheats impact on the skin (something i've struggled with despite my best efforts). there is also a chapter or two about wheat's impact on mental function. worth a read.

if i had kids i'd try to go wheat free as much as possible because there seem to be some good evidence that it's not helpful and that clearly some kids are more sensitive to it's impacts than others, even if they don't have celiac disease.
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Elizabeth Hassleback was on Dr Oz last week talking about celiac & gluten free. Some interesting ideas & tips. She also has a cookbook.


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crimsonshedemon likes this.
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I've been planning on starting a gluten and celiac free diet for my family too. My 4 yr old exhibits a lot of the signs and symptoms of ADHD and I'm 99% sure I've been living with undiagnosed ADD my whole life. I'm not interested in medicating her so that's why I've started investigating a gluten free diet. She also has severe food allergies (peanut, tree nuts, fish) so I totally understand how you feel about an already restricted diet. I may even take the plunge and just go vegetarian as well-- I used to be one and my kids aren't huge meat eaters.

I'm looking forward to seeing other posters experiences with a gf diet.

Blame it on the cell phone...
This probably won't be very helpful, since I'm not strictly gluten-free...I haven't been diagnosed with any kind of intolerance or allergy, and I don't suffer from any major problems due to gluten so I don't worry about contamination or the occasional treat (or bouts of laziness).

I first cut out gluten (unknowingly) a few years ago when I went on a low-carb diet (South Beach) to lose a few pounds quickly. More impressive than the weight loss was how clear my skin got--it looked as good as it did the year after I finished accutane. I went back to eating normally, skin got crappy again. After a while I decided to seriously stick to low carb for the skin benefits. Searching the internet for recipe ideas, I came across "paleo," (lots of great recipes if you can ignore the libertarians, the "evolutionary" psychology, and the people who think they're anthropologists). That's where I first heard about gluten.

Since then, after some experimenting, I don't worry about carbs, I just avoid regular gluten (and sugar) intake. My acne starting clearing up after about a week, and the KP I assumed was never going anywhere cleared up, too, but that was after a few months. Also, since accutane, I would get mild eczema and rashes in the winter, and that also went away. I can still eat gluten occasionally without a problem...it's only when I eat it regularly for a few days that my skin acts up, like when I went to Italy.

If you want to completely avoid gluten, you're probably going to have to avoid eating out entirely because of possible contamination, but with your daughter's allergies you probably do that already. There's tons of blogs out there with great ideas for feeding kids gf--as soon as my laptop is fixed I'll post them here.
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Last edited by legends; 01-30-2012 at 12:31 PM.
My daughter has dystonia with her right leg. I have read a few stories by people who claim to have had a huge reduction in symptoms by cutting out gluten. If I really thought it would help, our whole family would go gluten free tomorrow without a thought - but like you, I hate to complicate an already complicated situation. My daughter is a little foodie. She has a healthy diet, but she still gets sweet treats from time to time and adores bread and pasta. It's hard to think about taking away something she likes when I don't REALLY know it would make a difference but I DO know it will make her miserable.

I know this doesn't help you at all, but you're not alone. It's a tough call.
sarah42 likes this.
I basically eat a low carb Primal diet which is nearly gluten free and it's been great. More energy, better sleep, better attitude. I can't give all the credit to being gluten free but it has helped I'm sure.
There are substitutes out there for just about everything, so no one including your daughter should never feel left out or restricted. Tons of recipes and info.
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This thread has been interesting. I've thought about limiting gluten and I already do to some extent. I also have eczema, low energy and feel like I could have ADD.
My mom has celiacs and has had to eliminate gluten entirely. You'll want to read labels very carefully because it shows up in the strangest places. When she comes over we have to be very careful about cross contamination. One thing you'll want to look at are medications. My mom had to go off her ADD meds because they aren't offered gluten free. I'd say it would be very difficult to go gluten free for most people because of cross contamination in food plants. She can't buy anything that was made in a factory where wheat is also processed (but many of the items are still listed as gluten free) because the slightest bit of gluten makes her absolutely sick. Good luck if you decide to go that way! (I've determined that when she comes over I make an absolutely gluten free meal, down to the dessert, to eliminate the issue of cross contamination entirely)


My mom has celiacs and has had to eliminate gluten entirely. You'll want to read labels very carefully because it shows up in the strangest places. When she comes over we have to be very careful about cross contamination. One thing you'll want to look at are medications. My mom had to go off her ADD meds because they aren't offered gluten free. I'd say it would be very difficult to go gluten free for most people because of cross contamination in food plants. She can't buy anything that was made in a factory where wheat is also processed (but many of the items are still listed as gluten free) because the slightest bit of gluten makes her absolutely sick. Good luck if you decide to go that way! (I've determined that when she comes over I make an absolutely gluten free meal, down to the dessert, to eliminate the issue of cross contamination entirely)
Originally Posted by Liesel
good points here. i bought a couple of books about being gluten free when i was having bad digestive issues and thought that going gluten free might be the answer. to the op, i think even a major reduction in wheat might help dramatically even if you allow for it occassionally. i agree it's much harder for someone with celiac that become very sick if even a little wheat/gluten is in the mix.
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@MadScientist
I'm keeping you in my thoughts and hoping everything turns out well.

Can someone please explain to me in basic terms what exactly is so bad about gluten?
@MadScientist
I'm keeping you in my thoughts and hoping everything turns out well.

Can someone please explain to me in basic terms what exactly is so bad about gluten?
Originally Posted by Parissy198907
Nothing.
There is nothing inherently bad about gluten.
That's not to say that some people (a very small percentage of the population) don't have problems with it (due to ability to digest it), but gluten isn't some awful thing that needs to be eliminated from all foods, either. I'm not in any way arguing with or trying to contradict people's experiences. I'm just saying that gluten is just something that exists and isn't "bad". Gluten is protein. It gives doughs elasticity and structure. It is a source of protein for many vegans.

Last edited by Saria; 01-30-2012 at 11:52 PM.
@MadScientist
I'm keeping you in my thoughts and hoping everything turns out well.

Can someone please explain to me in basic terms what exactly is so bad about gluten?
Originally Posted by Parissy198907
It's not bad for everyone but some people have an intolerance or sensitivity to it as with other foods such as dairy, eggs, etc.
My 5-year-old son has had eczema since infancy, and he also has a language delay. I had him tested for food allergies in December because of his history of eczema and because he's had reactions to tree nuts. According to the skin test, he is severely allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, and gluten. But, he's eaten most of those foods all his life with no reactions (other than the tree nuts).

On the advice of the allergist, we eliminated all those foods for a week to see if the eczema improved. It didn't--it looked worse at the end of the elimination diet. I know some people claim that it takes weeks to see improvements from gluten elimination, but I was skeptical all along and tired of the inconvenience, and I wasn't going to keep going indefinitely if we weren't seeing any marginal improvement. We reintroduced all the "allergic" foods other than tree nuts, with no adverse reactions. I've done some reading, and kids with eczema have false positives with skin tests pretty frequently because their skin is sensitive to getting pricked with foreign substances.

I don't think there's any harm in trying a gluten-free diet, other than the inconvenience and expense. But it is inconvenient and expensive. When we did it, we had to talk to his preschool teachers and send in alternative snacks and meals (our preschool usually provides those). Even if we'd seen a huge improvement, I would have had to think hard about maintaining it long-term because his eczema (and language delay) are mild, but avoiding major food groups is a major undertaking, especially for a preschooler.
Sarah- how long did you have to pack alternative snacks/meals for your son? Was it for the week that you tried the elimination diet or longer? Did you eliminate foods with gluten altogether or did you use gluten free substitutes (ex: no more mac and cheese or use a gluten free mac and cheese)? Specifically what did you find to be expensive and inconvenient?

My daughter goes to a pre k where kids have to bring their own lunch and then parents sign up x amount of times a year to bring snack. We're restricted to just bringing fresh fruit for the classroom snack because of various food allergies. She has a bag full of "safe snacks" that she keeps at school for when someone brings in special treats that she can't have. My kid also has a bento style lunch box so I prepare her lunch every morning instead of using pre made lunch items (sandwich, chips, fruit snacks, juice boxes, etc). I'm trying to get an idea of if/how her lunch routine for nearly 2 yrs may differ when we go gluten free.

Blame it on the cell phone...

Last edited by subbrock; 01-31-2012 at 07:55 PM.
So, curious, I asked my husband about this.

He's a teacher in a school dedicated to children with special needs. The vast majority of his students are autistic, to varying degrees. Many have very serious autism, some have milder autism and/or other difficulties.

In his experience, a gluten free diet has had no impact on a students autism.

But, his theory went something like this: some people have trouble with gluten. Many of those people are not autistic, but some are. Additionally, a lot of autistic kids get locked into a diet-- only eating french fries, for instance. When you're autistic and your stomach hurts, you can't articulate that your stomach hurts, so it can exacerbate your behaviors.

Imagine if you couldn't ever tell your mother your stomach hurt.

Eliminating gluten can, in some cases, make behaviors less extreme, because the stomach pains go away.

He has students who've gone gluten free, and when I first posed the question to him, his reaction was, "It's disgusting." We're big pasta eaters.

But he hasn't had any kids go gluten free with any appreciable difference in their behaviors.

Like I said, he's hardly an expert. He cares deeply about those kids, and I imagine finding a dietary cure for autism would be about the greatest thing in the world to him. But that's just not what it is.

I-- and he agrees-- think that it can't hurt to try it, but given his professional experience, please don't get your hopes up.
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I think gluten is just the latest dietary scapegoat. There's nothing wrong with consuming gluten unless you have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
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mad scientist, my husband is gluten intolerant. My sister got us this cookbook for Christmas: http://www.amazon.com/Gluten-Free-Ba...8111641&sr=8-7

It has a lot of really good, basic recipes and everything I've tried has come out really well. In most cases (because of the flour mixture she uses), you can't tell it's gluten free.

My kids and I don't eat gluten free, but cutting out gluten has really helped my husband (particularly in his moods).
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I think the crockpot lady uses mainly gluten-free recipes or alternatives to make a recipe gluten free...

You would still have to eliminate her other allergies as well...

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I think gluten is just the latest dietary scapegoat. There's nothing wrong with consuming gluten unless you have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Originally Posted by Cheetara
I tend to agree with this although I think with our push for volume when it comes to growing wheat products and I feel misusing gluten as fillers in processed products gluten today is not "the same" as gluten years ago.

If it can't hurt, I'd try it.

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