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Struggles With 4 Year Old
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We figured out last spring that my son is gluten intolerant. No idea if he has celiac or NCGI, because we figured it out after making our home gluten-free to keep me from constant cross-contamination. He's always had stomach problems-- reflux as a baby/toddler that went on longer than our peds expected, frequent complaints, C&D, and then last winter/spring, things went up in intensity and I would get calls from his school that he was crying in the bathroom or had gone through all of his changes of clothes (even though he'd previously been pretty solidly toilet trained). We didn't jump right to gluten because he's not genetically related to me, though we did wonder about wheat when he was a toddler because his face broke out sometimes after bread products.

Anyway, once we were able to see the connection between episodes of bathroom drama and consuming gluten out of the house, we took it completely out of his diet and many things improved. Normal poop, more stable mood, generally more pleasant child. Over the summer when we were traveling he started to have constipation trouble. Made some sense since we were traveling and out of our routine. We were also doing some dairy trials since he'd been off dairy for a while to see if it helped his frequent congestion issues. However, it never really got better once we were home. At this point we're doing daily miralax doses, and he's still having hard poops, big belly, and complaining of pain a lot of the time. Complicating this issue is that he's incredibly picky about food. He seems to have some sensory issues, so has trouble with some textures (though I haven't been able to fully figure out what in specific). We also were vegetarian, and then as my intolerances grew, had to add in more meat, and he is still pretty vehemently veg. We encourage him to try things, but he hates it and is distressed at the idea of meat. And since we removed gluten and dairy right at the point when a lot of kids become pickier about food, we've had trouble finding other things to put back in without a major battle. Left to his own devices he'd live on PB and gluten-free bagels. He will eat fruits and vegetables, though it sometimes takes a bit of coaxing/struggle. He hates most forms of protein other than nut-based ones.

At this point it's hard to know what's causing what. Is he tired and cranky and constipated because he's not eating a balanced diet? Or is something else irritating him? Is his pickiness causing the constipation or is he picky because his stomach is cranky because he's contipated? Is there something bigger going on that forcing him to eat new things won't fix? He's very strong-willed, so trying to force anything is kind of a losing battle. I try to find ways as his parent to sidestep the head to head confrontations and get him to follow drections, etc in different ways. But he will not be tricked or otherwise convinced with food.

Any suggestions about where to start with this? We will probably chat with the pediatrician about it, but so far they haven't been terribly helpful about it (though at least they are supportive of our decision to remove gluten without a clear diagnosis). I know we need to add more variety to his diet no matter what, but would welcome suggestions about ways to do this without a battle. So tired of mealtimes being a massive struggle. So tired of seeing him tired and cranky and hurting after such a promising start to his gluten-free journey.

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does he play with playdough? Its wheat based. Are there any other sources of gluten that he could ahve come in contact with.

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does he play with playdough? Its wheat based. Are there any other sources of gluten that he could ahve come in contact with.

No, we make gluten-free dough for his class when they need it, and I work in the classroom across the hall, so his teacher has easy access to me for checking on materials and project ideas. Any other sources would be crumbs from other kids in his classroom, which is certainly possible, especially since he's a thumb sucker. But if that's the case I don't know what to do, because there's no way to avoid that other than removing him from school.

It did occur to me as I typed this that we started a new multivitamin with the kids this summer, so it's possible that could be contributing. It's gluten-free/CF and claims to be all kinds of natural and hypoallergenic, but I know different bodies react differently to vitamins, so I could try dropping that for a week or so to see what happens.

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Could he have developed another intolerence to something? Nightshades and legumes (i hope i spelled that right) come to mind.

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We figured out last spring that my son is gluten intolerant. No idea if he has celiac or NCGI, because we figured it out after making our home gluten-free to keep me from constant cross-contamination. He's always had stomach problems-- reflux as a baby/toddler that went on longer than our peds expected, frequent complaints, C&D, and then last winter/spring, things went up in intensity and I would get calls from his school that he was crying in the bathroom or had gone through all of his changes of clothes (even though he'd previously been pretty solidly toilet trained). We didn't jump right to gluten because he's not genetically related to me, though we did wonder about wheat when he was a toddler because his face broke out sometimes after bread products.

Anyway, once we were able to see the connection between episodes of bathroom drama and consuming gluten out of the house, we took it completely out of his diet and many things improved. Normal poop, more stable mood, generally more pleasant child. Over the summer when we were traveling he started to have constipation trouble. Made some sense since we were traveling and out of our routine. We were also doing some dairy trials since he'd been off dairy for a while to see if it helped his frequent congestion issues. However, it never really got better once we were home. At this point we're doing daily miralax doses, and he's still having hard poops, big belly, and complaining of pain a lot of the time. Complicating this issue is that he's incredibly picky about food. He seems to have some sensory issues, so has trouble with some textures (though I haven't been able to fully figure out what in specific). We also were vegetarian, and then as my intolerances grew, had to add in more meat, and he is still pretty vehemently veg. We encourage him to try things, but he hates it and is distressed at the idea of meat. And since we removed gluten and dairy right at the point when a lot of kids become pickier about food, we've had trouble finding other things to put back in without a major battle. Left to his own devices he'd live on PB and gluten-free bagels. He will eat fruits and vegetables, though it sometimes takes a bit of coaxing/struggle. He hates most forms of protein other than nut-based ones.

At this point it's hard to know what's causing what. Is he tired and cranky and constipated because he's not eating a balanced diet? Or is something else irritating him? Is his pickiness causing the constipation or is he picky because his stomach is cranky because he's contipated? Is there something bigger going on that forcing him to eat new things won't fix? He's very strong-willed, so trying to force anything is kind of a losing battle. I try to find ways as his parent to sidestep the head to head confrontations and get him to follow drections, etc in different ways. But he will not be tricked or otherwise convinced with food.

Any suggestions about where to start with this? We will probably chat with the pediatrician about it, but so far they haven't been terribly helpful about it (though at least they are supportive of our decision to remove gluten without a clear diagnosis). I know we need to add more variety to his diet no matter what, but would welcome suggestions about ways to do this without a battle. So tired of mealtimes being a massive struggle. So tired of seeing him tired and cranky and hurting after such a promising start to his gluten-free journey.

I could totally relate to your post! My son is on a gluten free diet because of his autism, and he is SO picky about textures. Won't do meat except the occasional hotdog and won't do veggies unless they are pureed (very sensitive to texture). So frustrating! I don't know about the medical part of it, but I do have some ideas about how you can vary his food. I sneak mashed beans and pureed veggies (actually use baby food) plus 1/2 c applesauce into Namaste muffin mix. He will also do spinach in his smoothies if I add other sweeteners like bananas - can't even taste it. Sometimes I'll add pureed squash or pumpkin to the batter for French toast. Pancakes and waffles are also easy to play with. My son will also do the "5 minute mac and cheese" from the Spunky Coconut website. Has a cashew base.

One thing that I did that was really helpful was think about what my son ate already and really think about what those foods have in common. In his case, he liked soft (so we decided hot dogs were worth trying) and bready (so we do muffins with hidden ingredients). If you are trying something new for dinner, set yourself up for success by having something else that he really likes (first tries the least preferred food, then can have the favorite) and make sure he's hungry.

Good luck!

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Hmmm...will be filing those ideas away to try. He has been thrilled this week to eat muffins made with almond flour, which at least has something more to it than rice flour. I've been able to use them to bribe him as you describe (eat your broccoli, then you can have the muffin). Adding stuff in is a brilliant idea, and something we haven't tried.

It's possible that he's developed other food reactions, but I'm hoping not. Really wish kids came with plug in diagnostic devices..

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I thought of something else ... can he have soy? My son is very open to tofu.

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I thought of something else ... can he have soy? My son is very open to tofu.

Sadly, he's been very opposed to tofu. Haven't tried it since I figured out that I can't do soy, but he was not a big fan when we had it more regularly. Makes his desire to stay vegetarian kinda tricky...

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Sorry I don't have any suggestions but wanted to say my daughter has been gluten-free for 5 mos now and also takes laxatives (milk of magnesia in our case) and still only has a bowel movement once every 2-3 days. I was really hoping going gluten-free would help w her constipation but it doesn't seem to have made a difference at all. And like your son, she's a very picky eater. I feel your frustration!!

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