Thursday, June 15, 2006

So, What Do We Eat?

I found that the easiest way to go gluten free was to not try to find gluten free substitutes for all of J-Baby's favorite foods. It was far easier to change lunch from a PB&J to beans and corn tortillas than to find a suitable bread to use for the sandwiches. At the time we were eating exclusively vegan, which made bread nearly impossible anyway. Now that time has passed we occasionally allow J-Baby to have Ener-G Tapioca bread, mostly when we travel as it is pretty much air bread. He appreciates the chance to have a peanut butter sandwich or cinnamon toast now and then.

For awhile we gave up pasta. Actually, we still eat it very rarely, but now that we've transitioned there is a brown rice pasta from Trader Joes we'll eat in an emergency. We didn't eat sandwiches, or pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc. for the first couple of months. Breakfast was brown rice flakes or cornmeal mush (we later added pastured, organic eggs). Lunch was based on beans, quinoa, and tortillas (plus fresh fruits and veggies). Dinner was a whole grain, steamed vegetables, potatoes, beans, tortillas, etc. Lots of whole, simple foods.

Once we got past the transition I started messing with recipes and trying new products. We found a good pizza crust (Kinnikinnick). I adapted recipes for brownies, pancakes, and muffins. Adding in eggs really opened things up. We found meringue cookies (and plan to make them once the weather cools). Kettle brand potato chips are GF, don't use hydrogenated oils, and have less salt than Pringles. We rediscovered popcorn. Hard-boiled eggs make a good snack.

Throughout this we have kept the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables high, even though there is some controversy in doing so as it can be stressful to the gut. Some GF products are lower in fiber and nutrition than whole wheat products, so we need to make sure the boys are eating high nutrient calories. My boys both eat about 5-8 servings of fruit daily, and several vegetables servings, some raw.

We're headed out again, and this time we won't let J-Baby have foods with gluten, because we know we have options now. We've learned so much about eating out since we started this. I've also relaxed a bit. I know if we go out and J-Baby has white rice for lunch (and nothing else) that it won't be the end of the world. 95% of his diet is really high quality. If it is planned ahead I will take a bag of cut carrots or an apple with us. I have no problem bringing my own GF brownie to a restaurant so J-Baby can dessert along with the rest of us. We've camped, gone to theme parks, museums, and zoos, and done a weekend trip, all gluten-free.

For those who wonder, at home all of us eat GF 95% of the time. The only real exception is pizza crust, because the GF version is so pricey, and the occasional loaf of bread.


  1. Oh, so your kids are having a very different reaction to the gluten than mine is. GM will only eat (and I mean ONLY) dry cereal, yogurt, chicken nuggets, pb&J, quesadillas or grilled cheese. He will also do pancakes or waffles. He will eat some ice cream now, but that took a long time. He is a very high gluten addict and has limited his diet to only these items, so when I switched and had nothing for him that was one of these items, it was terrible. We couldnt switch to beans for protein because he would gag and worse. It is so interesting how the same allergy can effect people in such a different way. He is likely to need to go off of Cassein too, but Im tackling it one at a time. Also the thought is that once you get rid of the gluten the kids who self restrict their eating will begin to try new things, because the gluten addiction is broken. Cross your fingers!! We let this go for so long because for a long time he wouldnt eat at all. He had to have pediasure to get his nourishment, so when people started talking about limiting his diet, and pediasure isnt safe, I thought, yeah right! So finally we are here and ready to take the full plunge.

    PS. I found him eating a roll of crackers today, just dry. He is wanting the gluten, when I said he couldnt have anymore he burst into tears and ran to his room screaming. He is nine years old. So I need to get rid of the food that is here that he can get a hold of. He is craving it too much. :-(

  2. On a side note, he also has oral defensiveness, as his remaining area of extreme SI dysfunction. So the combination of textures and addictions (gluten) has made for an interesting journey.

  3. J-Baby definitely preferred gluten foods. On a typical day he would have toast for breakfast, a sandwich on whole wheat for dinner, something like pretzels or muffins for a snack, and dinner might be based on whole wheat pasta, couscous,etc. It's amazing how much gluten Americans consume, as wheat is the staple grain for our diet.

    GM is obviously craving casein and gluten, which is common among children who are sensitive to them. When we allowed dairy J-Baby's very favorite food was macaroni and cheese. He also loved yogurt. Luckily we eliminated dairy first (and we had never allowed them to drink cow's milk).

    J-Baby had severe control isues with food even before we took away gluten. We had finally decided to make certain every food in our house was a healthy choice. No pretzels, no cookies, no added sugar, no hydrogenated oils, no corn syrup or HFCS, no refined flours, etc. We knew he would rebel, but we also knew that eventually he would eat. It was during this transition that he began to eat beans.

    Gluten and casein are like opiates for me (well I'm only guessing that based on descriptions, as I've never had an opiate). I feel calm and relaxed and very sleepy.

    Gotta run...will answer more later.

  4. We deal with a lot of oral defensiveness here, mostly in T-Guy (who would most likely have been put on the spectrum as a younger child, and still show some behaviors).

    I'd really like to encourage you to read what you can and just go cold turkey. When you give him little bits it's still like giving him a drug, and he doesn't have a chance to get his body free from it.

    Even if all he will eat for the first week is potatoes, or bananas, or pancakes, eventually his body will turn around he'll be more open to other foods. Start by making a list of everythig he will eat that is acceptable, and go from there.

  5. Hi,
    I love your blog as we are a new homeschooling family. We are vegan and gluten free (I have two babies, 5.5 and 2, with another on the way). We LOVE Tinka (I hope I am spelling that correctly) brown rice pasta. The kids love it, the texture is the same as regular pasta. My kids never ate sandwiches, so bread has not be hard to remove. Although for hubby and myself we get a Bhutanese red rice bread (frozen in health food stores). Our kids seem to have adjusted nicely to these changes with minimal complaints. Good luck

  6. This is so interesting...I guess it varies a lot. The advice I got was to find subs for the gluten foods. This worked really well for us. And for a bunch of others that I have known. Then gradually we switched from gluten substitutes, to just changing the way we eat. It was easiest for us that way.

  7. Lauren, you guys went GF with a younger child, and in that case I think subbing works really well. You obviously had a lot of success. With older kids they know what the real thing tastes like and subs are often rejected, in my experience with families doing this in our homeschooling group. J-Baby would not switch from wheat bread straight to GF bread - we tried and he didn't go for it. After a break from anything made with sliced bread he was willing to eat the GF sub. He aslo rejected a lot of GF cookies, bars etc. that his younger GF friends would gladly eat.

    Also we eat really alternatively anyway. So beans and tortillas were a common food, just more likely to be eaten for dinner than lunch.

    As for so many of the GF subs, I don't think foods like macaroni and cheese are very healthy in its traditional forms, so I didn't find a real reasons to make them GF. We tried one package of GF Penne and Chreese when I was desperate, and not only did he not like it, but I realized that I didn't want going GF to compromise my beliefs about a healthy diet.

    I actually serve more sugar and added fat (in the form of muffins) than I would like to my boys, because they tend to be thin. Not that I think fat is bad - I just prefer it come from avocados, raw nuts, seeds, and other natural, non-processed sources. Before going GF J-Baby didn't gain weight for over 18 months, and he actually lost 2 pounds last December.