Just to clear up some things, I figured it was past time I shared why we're gluten-free, casein-free. The gfcf diet is also referred to as "the autism diet," since there have been some reports that it does wonders for autistic children who suffer from "leaky guts." While neither of our children are autistic, we have also had great success with the diet.
It all began with Harper not pooping. She would get allergy rings and hold it, and no matter how much she drank or how many times she went (she still went almost daily), she still had hardish, painful poops. It was a complete nightmare, and the success or failure of every day hinged on whether or not it was a poop day. Then she started falling off the growth chart. We're talking a nose dive off the weight one. We were going to the pediatrician more often for weight checks, and the doctor at one point said our next step was blood tests to rule out some very scary things. I cried. A lot. The doctor put her on Miralax, but we couldn't wean her off of it, and I didn't like the idea of giving her that for years until well after potty training. So we got her off the miralax and tried an elimination diet.
We already knew she had problems with milk (Ella and I both do as well), so she was already lactose-free, but we discovered she also had an issue with wheat and gluten products. We took her off all gluten and the problem was almost completely solved. Then we eliminated all cow's milk products (lactose and casein) and things cleared up even more. It helped more than digestion, too. Her rashes (mild eczema on the backs of her arms and fronts of her thighs) cleared up. Her mood, sleep, and speech improved. She gained weight. Plus, she hasn't had one single episode of growing pains in her legs since eliminating gluten from her diet.
Then, she started gaining weight.
I think I cried even more once I saw her getting better. We're not out of the woods completely. She's still a little bitty thing, and gaining weight slowly. But when she crossed back over the 5th percentile (she was around 40-50th for her first year) we definitely celebrated. We're still finding some new sensitivities (eggs & chocolate) that were hard to identify when she was having so much trouble with the gluten and cow's milk. Whether any of these are allergies or sensitivities or intolerances, I don't know. We watch her diet closely and try to stick to foods we know she can tolerate.
Is it difficult? Yes. Telling a two year old she can't have cake at a cousin's birthday party is brutal. Sometimes we give in, then feel guilty a few days later when she's suffering for it. But in general, at home it isn't so bad anymore. We are all on the diet at home, so there's no "our food" and "Harper's food," because that is way too difficult to keep track of and unfair to the kid who can't have the crackers and cookies. Overall, I think we're all benefitting from it. I know I feel better since I'm off gluten, and when I stick to it (I tend to cheat when I eat out without her) I see a decrease in the number of migraines I have. I also see an improvement with Ella's sensitivities, but it's hard to say if it's due to the gluten-free diet, less school stress, or just something she's outgrowing or learning to cope with better.
Currently we're trying out some new products that we hope will help for "cheat" days or accidental cross-contamination or just to make mom's life easier to have a meal with cheese once in a while. We're still in the testing stages, but if we see any positive results I'll share that with you. However, I'm not looking for a miracle cure. A gfcf diet works for us. We feel better. My kid's pooping and gaining weight. Can't ask for much more than that.