Saturday, June 14, 2014

GFCF Fears

When we first considered putting Sam on a GFCF diet, I was terrified. Not just anxious or uncertain, but gut-wrenching, weak-kneed, "I can't do this" terrified at the very thought.

There was the initial fear of change--a special diet means extra work, more expensive food, and I was already feeling overwhelmed. But it was more than that. 

Because we hadn't had much luck getting Sam to eat meat, at least 50% of his protein came from dairy. How could I get him enough protein to grow and develop properly if we cut it out? And calcium, and all of the nutrients that he usually got from whole wheat products, would we be able to replace those?

Nutrition aside, I also worried about the long-term effects of removing gluten and dairy from Sam's diet. Would he loose the ability to digest lactose? Would I be inducing lactose intolerance in my son, on the off chance that this scientifically questionable diet might help? And I've heard stories from non-celiac moms who'd gone gluten free and claimed that they became more and more sensitive to the occasional slip-up or splurge the longer they were off gluten. What if just trying the experiment caused long term damage?

Some of it was a social fear. (and social anxieties run far too deep in my awkward psyche anyway) I didn't want to be "that mom", the one that insisted on special treatment, that threw a wrench in the smooth workings of snack time and lunch, making life more complicated for everyone. This is terrible, and I was ashamed to feel this way. For one thing, the bitchy entitled "no gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, meat, processed sugar, or the color red for my little darling" mom is pretty much an internet strawman as far as I know. Every woman I've met who had special dietary needs for herself or her kids has been wonderful about it, very helpful and accommodating, not to mention being unusually kind and helpful ladies overall. And for the kids with life-threatening allergies? Yeah, some things are more important than playing nice all the time. But it would be hard for me, personally. So, more fear.

However, I seemed to be the only one with these kind of deep-seated reservations. Sam's pediatrician gave us the green light, half the moms at school seemed to be doing it, and the Gaffer pointed out that if there was a possibility of improvement, how could we not at least try? What if part of Sam's problem was pain and discomfort that he had no ability to communicate? So I put the various fears into perspective and we jumped in.

So far, GFCF does seem to be helping. Sam's digestion is better, his behavior is better, and the switch turned out to be way less difficult than I expected. I'm not ignoring all my reservations; some are definitely worth considering and I'll write more about them later. But as with many things in life, the fear was far worse than the thing itself. 

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