Well it has been about a month. I am hoping to get back to a little quicker at putting up a post. I wanted to do a quick post on the progress the boys have made since going Gluten Free. I also wanted to give a few tips on how to go Gluten Free. I am still in the baby steps myself but these are things that I found worked.
First off news about the boys. So it has been a month since we found out they were Gluten Sensitive. From there we removed gluten about 90% from their diets. It is hard to get all the way as we still have the odd thing lingering or we end up in a pickle where we just let them have it (example – they know they get cookies from the bakery when grocery shopping, I already have to shop with 2 year old twins I’m not rocking that boat!). I have figured a few things out and prepared ahead a little in times when I know they will be faced with it and I don’t want a melt down from refusing. The other parts are well the girls get it and if Amy was to have a sandwich for lunch and walk away from it, one or both boys may try to eat it. Rarely do we offer things in our home that isn’t fair, and the few times we have it was an experiment to see who wanted it after all and who ate it. Like when I make buns for stew and they won’t take no for an answer, Mark ate his 1/4 of a bun, David simply wanted it to have it and didn’t eat any. I have noticed changes in the boys since we have removed it more in the last month. Their bowel movements have changed and do get effected if they have gluten again (colour, smell, consistency), they are not as whiny and prone to tantrums anymore but that could be the fact that they are communicating in leaps and bounds now. Around the time we made the switch we had removed it about 50% – 75% from their diet and I was noticing changes. David more or less trying to say words to you and repeat the odd thing (he is our most verbal of the two). After we really made the efforts to have it out of their diet at the start of March within two weeks I noticed huge changes. David was now repeating just about every thing you said or showed him (in his own garbled way) but he was acknowledging a word. He was also pointing more things out to me with his own words. Mark exploded his use of signs. In one night I tried 3 new ones with him and right away he copied them and knew how to use them. He had since learned more signs and started putting two or three signs together (more banana please) or (banana please). Now with Mark in the two weeks since we saw this happening we have also started to hear him say the word he signs. Mark only until this point really said things like Mama, Uh Oh, and various sound effects. Now he is coming to me after dinner and signing and saying Bath, or Book. Things like this further my drive to keep their diet strict.
That being said this has not been an easy journey. I am always facing challenges and having to find ways to overcome them. Dave doesn’t see a physical change in the boys (like upset stomachs etc) when they eat gluten so he doesn’t feel as firmly as I do. He doesn’t deny they aren’t developing language quickly but he doesn’t want to give all the credit to their diet. He is supportive so long as I still find ways to let him have gluten and fresh buns. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. With that though here are some of my top tips when going gluten free and I’m sure I’ll find more to add or have other people have suggestions too.
1. Pace yourself, unless it is an urgent thing to change like someone who has Celiacs don’t push yourself. This is a very overwhelming change if you don’t take a deep breath and work on small tasks at a time.
2. Stock up on Fruits and Veggies they are unlimited! This did not clue for me right away. I was so hung up at start on what I couldn’t bake anymore or how a bag that fit in the palm of my hand full of Animal crackers was going to cost me $5.00 that I didn’t realize fruit and veggies was the easiest and duh healthiest snack I could feed the boys. A large bag of apples sure to last a week costs $5.00 too rather than a silly bag of cookies that would last 15 minutes.
3. Put away the cook books and get back to dinner basics. Meat, Potatoes, Rice, Veggies, etc. Forget trying new recipes right now and start creating a new rhythm cooking basic Gluten Free meals. I love cooking and trying new things but the more complex ingredients you try to use the quicker you will feel overwhelmed. Meat – Gluten Free, Potatoes (real ones not the boxed flakes) – Gluten Free.
4. Think ahead and prepare yourself for when you walk out your home which as you work at it becomes more Gluten Free. Playdate, go prepared. Dried fruits, Rice Crackers (no the no name brand, they are surprisingly not gluten free), Carrot sticks, Apple slices. You get the idea. Doing some shopping? Worried you may hit critical meal times and cave to fast food, either make yourself aware of places that have Gluten Free options, or go prepared, with Cheese & Rice Crackers. I tried this once only to find out McDonalds fries have Gluten, so read menus before hand. Birthday Party, some moms ask, and some don’t. So if you are sticking around don’t be afraid to ask to read the contents on the snacks they provide (I was once one of those moms who didn’t think about that stuff), and bring either home made cupcakes from a mix that is Gluten free or whip up a batch of rice krispie squares, you want to have something equally exciting as cake.
5. Experiment in small quantities. Don’t go crazy on how much Gluten Free products you buy at the start until you know you like it. I’ve tried Pizza Dough a few ways now and still am not impressed. But thankfully I only bought what I figured I needed to try it out and don’t have lots left over. Gluten Free stuff is expensive and the flours do not last as long as your regular AP flour does.
6. Come up with a few ideas for lunch or breakfast. My boys are thankfully happy with Oatmeal so I don’t have a breakfast challenge. But at least if you have a few ideas then you won’t quickly hit the we are bored with this food wall. Again stick to basics. Rice Pasta and Tomato sauce, Cheese and Rice Crackers.
7. Start slowly with trying new things. Don’t rush in to find the perfect cookie recipe. Waiting isn’t a bad thing until you get some of the basics down. Pancakes is where I started. We have them as a breakfast and dinner meal and I didn’t want to lose that option. But I could live without cookies and muffins for a bit. I was also surprised to see the scale go down too when I wasn’t baking often anymore.
8. While expensive sometimes it is OK to buy the Gluten Free baked goods. Sometimes you do need that cookie and well stores don’t often sell bad cookies. Also watched for those items to hit the 50% off baked goods rack, then you can freeze them and ration as needed. Or buying bread, let the pros handle that one for now until you get a few things under your belt.
9. Like your list of thought out lunches, what you take out the door to be prepared, have a stash of treats you can offer and enjoy yourself. I am trying to go gluten free too so I can be an example to the boys. Knowing what treats or desserts I can prepare if we want them helps me feel a little calmer. Jello, Pudding, Popsicles. Having a little sweet stash helps. Like with any diet change focusing on the can haves will keep you from feeling trapped.
10. It is OK if you slip up. It takes time to learn new habits and make changes. Go easy on yourself. Have a network of friends, blogs, family who are already Gluten Free to use as support.
Good Luck to anyone going gluten free who is reading this. Please understand I’m not an expert, nor am I overly worried about cross contamination as the boys are not Celiacs where it is more imperative to watch things like that.