My 15-year-old daughter just got diagnosed with a wheat allergy. Although she is definitely bummed about having to change her eating habits, I am relieved to have finally found a solution to her problems.
Let me give you a little bit of back-story:
I have been taking her to the doctors for years. The first time was back when she was 8 or 9. She was having stomach pains daily, especially after she would eat. We have a history of diabetes and celiac disease in my family, so I wanted to have tests done. After lots of blood work and some other bodily function tests, we were told there was nothing wrong with her. Probably hormones, the doctor said.
We switched insurances for a time, and I was told by a couple other doctors the same things. Hormones, growing pains-only these doctors wouldn’t even do tests, assuring me that she was fine because her growth and weight were normal.
Flash forward a couple more years, and by this point I am tired of taking her to the doctors and hearing the same old thing. I let her lay down a lot after she eats, and give her Tums when it is really bad, even though that doesn’t seem to do anything.
Then last year, she started getting headaches daily. They would always come on after she ate. I was giving her ibuprofen when it was really bad, but finally made another doctor’s appointment. By now she had switched back to her original insurance and childhood doctor.
We took her in–she wouldn’t run tests. Instead, my daughter got referred to a psychologist. Her doctor was certain it was stress, even though I tried to argue that it definitely wasn’t. I was told that in young children stress will often present itself in stomach issues, and in teenagers as headaches. My daughter’s biological father is not in her life, and the doctor told me that was why she was so stressed out, even if we couldn’t see it. I tried to tell the doctor that my husband now is my daughter’s dad and has been for 10 years, but she wasn’t listening. Stuck on daddy issues as the culprit.
In the car on the way home my daughter insisted she did not want to go to a psychologist and that she wasn’t stressed out. I never made her go because I agreed with her, but I did try to cut out as much stress as I could, in case the doctor was right. I stopped asking her to babysit so much, and took away some of her chores.
But that didn’t help. The headaches and stomach pains only got worse, and now she was getting dizzy.
This was the last straw. Something was going on with my baby and the doctors were going to figure it out! I called her doctor and asked for an appointment with anyone but whom we had been seeing. They got us in the next day, with a nurse practitioner.
I gave her the rundown on the symptoms and how we were certain it wasn’t stress, so she ordered the tests. The same ones from when she was younger, but it was a start. She also threw in a urine test (I think to check for pregnancy even though we said my daughter wasn’t dating yet, but that’s a whole other issue I have with doctors and I won’t go there right now.)
The next day we got a call from the NP saying her urine had certain proteins in it signifying allergies. She said it was common this time of year with hay fever and seasonal allergies. The only problem with that is my daughter has never had seasonal allergies. Me, yes. My son, yes. But not her. I told the doctor that wasn’t it and asked if it could be from a food allergy. I was assured that wasn’t the case, but I pressed, so she said she would call the lab and see if they had any of her blood left over to run an allergy test.
The next day I got another call. She was highly allergic to shrimp (not a big deal since we aren’t big seafood eaters around here), and her blood also showed that she had an allergy to walnuts, egg whites…and she had a wheat allergy. But I shouldn’t be concerned “because it shows only a very mild allergy to wheat.” The doctor wanted us to cut out all wheat, eggs, and dairy for the next 3 weeks, just to see how she feels.
That was all the confirmation I needed. I knew it was food related, not stress.
I went out and bought her a couple days worth of gluten-free, dairy-free foods, for $43!! Man that stuff is expensive, and that was only 2 days worth. I have since taken a step back to figure out how we can do this without going completely broke in the process.
First, I wrote down all the recipes I already make that either have no wheat products, or can be adjusted very easily. To my surprise, there were quite a few. And for the ones with flour tortillas or bread, we could easily substitute a gluten-free choice for her without breaking the bank.
I’m sure there will be plenty of gluten-free recipes posted around here in the months to come. Here are a few of my ideas, based on what I already make:
Homemade chili over baked potatoes
Chicken fajitas with rice, beans, and salad
Tacos on corn tortillas
Grilled chicken salad with gluten free dressing
Curry chicken with veggies over rice
Pork chops with sage gravy over fried potatoes
Stuffed bell peppers
Steak, potatoes, and veggies
Beef roast or stew
Chicken in gravy over mashed potatoes
These are already things I make on a regular basis. And for the gravies or marinades, I can either omit the flour or use cornstarch instead. These can all be dairy-free as well. As I add the recipes, I will come back here and link them, so in the future you can find them all in one place.
She has been gluten-free for 5 days now, and the past 2 days were the first time in years that she hasn’t had a headache or stomach issues.
What is funny is that her original doctor called yesterday to check on her because she saw that we were in the office and had tests run. Right off the bat she told me not to worry about the wheat allergy, as it only showed up as mild. And she tried to push us into going to the psychologist again because she still was convinced it was stress. I firmly told her that it was not, and that since starting the gluten-free diet she has felt better than she has in a long time! I don’t know why she wouldn’t accept that there was something medical going on and it wasn’t in our heads.
I must have used my angry voice because after I got off the phone my daughter was giggling at me. It is just so frustrating that it took literally years of doctors visits for them to finally run the food allergy test. And only because I insisted.
Parents–you are your child’s only advocate. You know your child better than any doctor that see’s them a couple times a year. If you feel like something is going on with your child’s health, don’t stop pressing until you get results. I wish I had pressed this hard years ago. I am just happy that it wasn’t something more serious.
If you have been diagnosed with a wheat allergy, or have to go gluten-free for any reason, here are a couple resources I found:
Sources of Gluten from Celiac.org
Strength and Sunshine-a celiac foodie blog
Remember, if you do get this diagnosis, it isn’t the end of the world. Take a step back and think about what you already eat and how you can tweak that to fit your lifestyle. If you have any other tips or resources, please share them in the comments.