I have a suspicion.
So, we're in the middle of an experiment.
My test subjects? My darling children.
That makes me sound like a horrible parent or mad scientist or something. Trust me, it's not as bad as it sounds. Here's the deal.
My suspicion is that at least one of the kids inherited dad's gluten issues. I've discussed it with our family doctor. She offered testing, but warned us that Celiac testing is pretty invasive. First, they take a blood sample, which isn't much for an adult, but could be pretty traumatic for a two-year-old. If that comes back positive, the child goes under general anesthesia and gets a colon biopsy.
The treatment? Avoid gluten.
Instead of putting them through all of that, I'm getting rid of gluten and noting the changes.
See? Told you I wasn't a horrible parent.
At home, we don't eat a lot of foods containing gluten. Mister can't go near the stuff, and I tend to feel and look and think much better without it, too.
The kids have their crackers and whatnot, but breads and grains aren't really a staple in our house. However, we weren't home for the holidays. We visited family, and we all know how it is around the grandparents. Anything goes.
That translates to three days straight of the kids consuming little other than cookies, cakes, waffles and breads, with truckloads of sugar in between.
They were fine while we were visiting, but once we got them home, they turned off their nicey-nice filters and snapped.
I'm talking, we needed an exorcism.
I know my kids react to sugar, but this was different. As I expected, there were fluctuating rounds of hyperactivity and crashes. But this time, there were talks of "belly hurt," potty problems, and patches of bumps on the skin. We had night after night of panicked night-waking, and both kids' under-eye circles made them look like they hadn't slept in days.
Most notably, though, were the behavior problems. They went into these raging temper tantrums, incited by sippy cups of the wrong color and spats over wanting that blue crayon among the other 22 blue crayons. Picture your normal toddler tantrum, then caffeinate it, add some intense limb-swinging and thrashing, and expect it to last about 10 times as long as a typical tantrum.
Is there a connection between gluten and behavior problems in children?
I know the Celiac gene is floating around, and I've seen gluten's behavior effects on gluten intolerant grown-ups. So, I opened up a trash bag and loaded up the wheaty pantry items for the food bank.
We're on Day 5 now. It takes a while to eliminate anything completely from the body, but already I'm noticing some things. Pasty-pale skin pinked up. Undereye circles are fading. Skin patches cleared up. Potty problems and abdominal discomfort disappeared. Both kids are sleeping through the night.
Behavior problems are gone.
We will go entire days without tantrums, and when the kids do get upset, they recover much more quickly than they did before. They are doing better than pre-experiment, better than before traveling for the holidays.
It seems they haven't noticed the change - we grab quick snacks of apple slices instead of crackers or pretzels, and they're happy with either. We don't miss the breads and pastas, and the primary cook in the house (moi) got used to gluten-free cooking years ago.
We haven't gone without gluten long enough to know for sure, but so far, we have more vibrant kids, happier parents and a more harmonious house.
The only way I can confidently attribute our behavior problems to gluten is when I bring it back after 4 weeks or so. But, will I? Right now, I'm thinking I won't. Wheat products are nutritionally empty, I'm used to going without, and I haven't had to think about cross-contamination for Mister.
And I'm losing baby weight.
No gluten is no problem.