Monday, February 21, 2011

Damn you, gluten!!!! GRRRRR

About the time I fully weaned Clark, he developed a persistent diaper rash that wouldn't go away no matter what we did. This was in October. He still has the rash.
We tried every kind of ointment, salve, and cream. We also did a huge strip of our cloth diapers, washing them profusely, boiling them in hot water to rid them of potential yeasts or infections. The rash persisted. We switched to disposables, yet nothing changed.

In addition to the diaper rash, he had a rash on his face as well that would never fully clear up.

At some point we thought it might be a food allergy. We began eliminating foods from his diet one at a time to see if there was a difference. Raisins, apple sauce, eggs, cheese, rice. I mean, there weren't that many things he actually ate!!! (or still eats for that matter!)

A phone call to Nana revealed that Aunt Monica (Tom's sister) had had a wheat allergy when she was a kid (which resolved by about 5 years old). Our swimming instructor mentioned that wheat might be an issue, and another friend brought up an allergy to wheat as a culprit for this type of thing.

As much as I didn't want to eliminate it, we had tried everything else and the face and the bottom were still bright red. We stared with goldfish, the toddler staple food.

As soon as we eliminated them, Clark's bright red cheeks began to return to his normal pale white. Then we looked for other wheat products: breads, cereals and crackers, gone. His face almost completely cleared up, but still his bottom was red, and he wasn't completely face-healed either.

We learned that it isn't just wheat - but gluten that is the problem and gluten is EVERYWHERE! Not only is it in obvious things like products made with wheat (breads, cereal, crackers), it is used as thicker in soups, starches in box mixes for foods (Jambalaya mix, for example), it is used as an anti-coagulant in spices. Also, if a factory processes something like wheat crackers and then a gluten-free product like rice-crackers are run on the same conveyor belt, then they become cross contaminated and can make a gluten sensitive person sick. It is in oats, wheat, bran, barley, rye... It is a pain in the a$$, for real.

The thing is, the more we eliminate it, the more his bottom heals. Since October, he has never been 100% rash free. Even when it is flesh colored, there are still bumps. Every time we get close to having a healed baby bottom, we will find yet another source of hidden gluten.

We went to McDonald’s (horribly, unhealthy choice, I know) and I ordered Clark a plain hamburger patty and french fries. He got a rash. Oh, they add a whole bunch of junk to the meat - and one of the junks they add is a wheat based filler to keep it chewy. Oh, and the french fries are fried in the same oil as onion rings and chicken patties and other stuff with breading.

So we have been sticking to home, but still, we find sources of Gluten to poison our little boy. When we get together with friends, Clark will eat cheerios off of the floor, or get a goldfish from a friend. Parents will hand him muffins or other foods before I can tell them that he has an allergy. Part of this is my fault, as I've always been very relaxed about his eating - happy that he would eat anything - so people know that I (used to ) don't have limits.

It is like he needs a shirt or hat or bracelet to wear when we go out that reads:

So, we try to be hyper vigilant and keeping him home helps. But we've found that playing with play dough, even with careful hand washing afterward, may be giving him problems as well.

In addition to Clark, Iris may be presenting with a gluten sensitivity. She began spitting up profusely a few weeks ago. I mentioned it to a friend who asked if Clark had done the same thing. "Clark spit up like crazy," I answered, "but he had an allergy"

Well, I wasn't fully convinced, nor committed for about a week. However, every time she struggled after nursing and then spit up I thought about it. The morning of Superbowl Sunday, I committed. Since then, I've been on a gluten-free diet as well. Luckily I know a lot more than I did when I started Clark on it. We also have a pantry stocked with G-free items (as well as gobs of gluten-full items that Tom will have to eat, or we'll have to donate). So it hasn't been as hard as I though.

Iris's spit ups have been minimal throughout this time, but I wasn't sure if it was a coincidence or the gluten. Today I did a gluten-challenge. I had wheat cereal for breakfast. A hamburger on a bun with onion rings (from TGIFriday's, not McDonald’s) for lunch, and more cereal later, and a chocolate croissant.

Tom and I were having a conversation at about 9pm. I said that she hadn't spit up, so maybe it wasn't gluten. I was optimistically thinking of clearing out some of the glutenous objects in our freezer and pantry. Tom did say that we should give it another day to confirm, since it could take awhile for my body to break it down and make milk with gluten in it. About 30 minutes later precious, beautiful baby Iris confirmed the worst. In a violent upchuck that fully soaked a thick, absorbent burp cloth, my shirt, and 1/4 of the boppy we were using, I realized that NO, I would not be eating those gluten items in the pantry. So for the next year at least, it looks like I'm gluten free too.

The good thing about this is that it is easier to keep Clark safe if we are eating the same things. I'm also learning more about being gluten free, and learning more food options as I eat a wider variety of things than Clark does. I, for example, learned that if I want a fast food hamburger - Wendy's has gluten free burgers since their burgers are ALL MEAT, and some stores have a dedicated fryer for french fries, but I have to check by location. Also, frosty's are g-free. yay!

Having some friends that are G-free has really helped, and I found this incredibly helpful yet terrifying book by Elizabeth Hasselbeck called the "G-free Survival Guide". It is really opening my eyes, and if I read too much of it, I'm too afraid to buy anything to eat, or put on lotion or makeup or shampoo my hair (sexy, I know, but easy for a new-mom to forsake).

Tom is thinking of joining us, but he might have to wait until he clears out our pantry and freezer.

In conclusion, gluten sucks, and it is everywhere, and it is making my kids sick. =P


  1. boo- that sucks. I know so many people that have had to eliminate gluten or dairy while breastfeeding. I pray baby boy doesn't have that problem. I'd go crazy.

  2. Don't a lot of childhood allergies pass with time?

  3. Celiac disease (the gluten sensitivity) appears to be genetic, so even if it does go away, it may come back. Ten years on, my kids are still sensitive. You are fortunate that people, friends and doctors know to check for wheat sensitivity now - it took us two years to get the first diagnosis and by that time, the first son had developed Type 1 diabetes from it *sigh* G-free and restaurants is annoying. Outback Steak House was one of the first to offer a g-free menu with dessert that is pretty good! Usually out of my price range, but makes a nice special meal ;-) Good luck...