Gluten-Free Conveniences. Fad Or Forever?
Posted by Befitzge, 24 February 2010 · 210 views
But, these symptoms (I’ll spare you) could also be explained by gluten. Earlier this week I made the mistake of feeding Ava some soy sauce that I had determined was gluten-free (per the ingredients on the label). Then, I double checked my assumption by doing an online search, and found out that I was wrong. (How did people survive before the internet?)
In fact, the world seems to be filled with websites, applications, ready to use gluten-free products, and gluten-free restaurant menus. This availability is very much appreciated, and at my infantile point of understanding I completely depend on them to function. But, I worry. Are these tools around to stay, or are they a fad?
To answer these questions, I first have to ask an even more basic question: why is gluten (or gluten-free) so popular right now? For our family, it is a necessity. But, are people going gluten-free for other reasons? I’d love to hear your story…
I’ll start by sharing my story:
My daughter was different and I knew this early on. Despite the reassurances of other parents, I just had the feeling that Ava wasn’t going to develop in the same manner as other children.
My feelings were confirmed in November 2009, when our physical therapist informed us that she could no longer work with Ava until cleared by a pediatrician. Of primary concern was Ava’s budda-like belly. It was so swollen. This was in addition to the fact that Ava would not crawl, pull up to stand or even roll around (very abnormal for a 14 month old child and the reason that we were working with a physical therapist in the first place).
Her pediatrician referred us to a gastrointestinal specialist and a neurologist. With them we discussed possibilities that ranged from genetic disorders like Autism, to nerve disorders, to a twist in her GI track…. They did a series of blood and x-ray tests.
While awaiting the results, Ava seemed to get worse. And worse. And worse. The question of whether or not to take her to the emergency room arose daily. It’s almost like she slipped into a trance. She was awake, but would just stare off into space. For hours, she sat completely motionless watching TV. Whenever we would push her to play or interact with others, she would completely break down into tears- refusing to allow us to set her down. And this is what scared me the most; it wasn’t that she wasn’t developing at the normal rate (crawling, for example), but that she didn’t want to do any of these things.
During a six week time frame, Ava lost 4 pounds (20% of her body weight). She stopped eating almost all together and her body wasted away (of course the swollen belly remained).
And then we got the results of the blood work. Without a doubt, all indicators pointed exclusively to Celiac Disease. Thank God!! We had a solution. Never in our wildest dreams did we dare to think that her symptoms could be relieved by a simple dietary adjustment (simple in relation to the other serious disorders that were a possibility).
As I mentioned in the intro blog, it only took a few days for the gluten-free diet to drastically change Ava’s life. She woke up. She stopped crying. She started eating again. She gained weight. She played. Now (2 months later), she is crawling, pulling herself up, and walking with assistance everywhere she can go.
Luckily for me, Ava has not developed trust in food (meaning that she still remembers how badly food made her feel prior). So, her current menu is a very simple one, leaving me time for trial and error in gluten-free food prep. And it appears that I will need this time. It is a huge undertaking to prepare your kitchen for gluten-free cooking. Many of my pots, pans, and baking sheets were severely scratched requiring replacement in the off chance that gluten resided inside those scratches. Locating gluten-free foods within the grocery store has also been a timely task that I fear will never end.
For our family, the gluten-free lifestyle is forever. I never want my daughter to suffer and deteriorate in that manner ever again. Because there is no known cure for Celiac Disease, gluten-free menus are a “life sentence” for her and thus I embark on this adventure knowing that it will eventually influence her entire relationship with food. I look forward to conquering the art of gluten-free cooking/baking, and finding family-approved gluten-free meals. And, at least for now, those tools (apps, online resources, etc) are essential to my success. I hope that I can depend on them well into the future.
So I ask again: why are you gluten-free? Do you think the conveniences are a fad or forever?