Friday, November 4, 2011

GF Epic Fail

A couple of us Mamas followed medical advice from various sources and put ourselves / our children on various renditions of a Gluten-Free (GF) diet prior to life on SCD / GAPS. My sample data pool is pretty darn small but interestingly the same thing happened with all three of us (the data set is me, ZiZi, and Stacylee).

When we went GF there was a minor uptick in feeling better / better energy for awhile. It seemed as though perhaps GF might be a piece to the puzzle but we weren't "so" much better off that we thought it was the answer. ZiZi and I both still needed iron supplements and all the neurological symptoms for both ZiZi and Stacylee were pretty much as they were prior to their diet change. Additionally, ZiZi continued to slowly slide off the height/weight charts. So, for ZiZi and me, I tried harder. We removed milk proteins (casein) as well and later tried even harder by further removing soy proteins and corn proteins.

After months / years of being GF we Mamas had "mastered" the diet. We had figured out which GF snacks the little ones liked and we had learned to make all kinds of regular foods (like pizza, breadsticks, etc.) so they tasted almost as good, or sometimes better, than the originals. I was proud of the dietary creative problem solving, particularly when people who did not need a GF diet said it was yummy and wanted recipes / mixes / brand names. Then other friends needed to go GF and I was a "go to mommy" and that felt great too.

However, there was something evil lurking just beneath the surface. Cue the "Jaws" music. The truth of the matter was we had replaced gluten with a lot of difficult to digest starches and sugars. The shopper in each household was buying a bunch of processed baked goods (or mixes - because that was "from scratch" cooking prior to this diet) filled with potato starch, rice starch, tapioca starch, amaranth, etc.. Go check a few labels for fun sometime. Processed GF is all sugars and starches. I even got handy and made my own GF mixes and threw in a little Xantham Gum for fun.

Perhaps predictably, within a year or so of the GF/GFCF/GFCFSFCF lifestyle, all three of us went downhill. Gut pain, bloating, gas, constipation, etc.. I even got a nice new diagnosis of IBS/IBD. No idea what the difference is there - it just hurt.

Now, I am not entirely sure that GF was acting alone. I think there were a few accomplices. First, oxalates definitely played a role in our household around that same time. But second, and perhaps the most important role as an accomplice, was a mother's deepest desire to keep things "normal" for her child. Can't have gluten, that's okay... here are a bunch of starches and it's all okay baby. Look, your friends even want to have some tapioca sticks with you.

Painful to acknowledge, when a doctor / nurse / nutritionist tells you that you may need to consider going GF what they are REALLY telling you (whether or not they know it) is that your bowels are having a bit of a time and need some healing. Guess what is not going to help them heal? All the GF goodies on the market or at that local GF pizza chain. Do you know what will help your bowels heal? A whole-foods diet, including any dips / sauces. Very little processing in your foods. Taking a load off your digestive tract by fermenting foods first (ala the Weston A Price way of cooking) so the first steps of digestion are done for you. Staying away from all processed foods and instead adding healing foods like broth and cod liver oil would also be a great place to start.

But few professionals in the medical establishment will say all that. Perhaps it's because their time is up with you but more likely, I think few have spent much time down this path themselves. Sometimes you have to have lived the experience and suffered the consequences to be able to warn the next guy. So here is my warning: judging by the explosion of GF baked / processed goodies, we are going to have an even bigger problem on our hands in another couple of years.

1 comment:

  1. This was wonderful put, so many of us mothers have gone down this exact disappointing path. You are sooo right, we'd give our left arm for our special kids to feel normal. But these days, "normal" is the farthest thing from healthy. The real "HEALTHY" is what heals our kids! Our little girl has brought us to a more healing way of life and has brought health to our whole family and I am so glad that we aren't "normal". This was a great post:)