26 answers

Gaining Weight and Keeping It on w/Gluten Free Diet

Hi Moms, I'm fairly new to Gluten Free Diet (less than 6mos). My oldest son (8yrs old) has been looking very gaunt lately. Not sure what his current height is probably somwhere in the 10th percentile. Current weight maybe 50lbs! As a baby he was extremely chubby, as a toddler he rapidly lost all his baby fat. He definitely dropped in the growth chart from well above avg to well below normal. Dr. wasn't concerned even though I was alarmed. Around 4yrs old he became so incredibly hyperactive (not exaggerating I'm a teacher and have been around all types of children from ADHD, aspergers, attachment reactive disorder etc.) He burns more calories than he consumes, acts like the tasmanian devil during the day, crashes and burns at night. I am not worried about the amount of food he eats. He's still a voracious eater. Not really a picky eater either. He'll eat anything! We were already eating pretty healthy, so going gluten free wasn't a problem. I'm just wondering how to get him to gain weight and keep it on while maintaining a gluten free diet. I have not gone casein free yet, but have slowly started to give him less. Have you discovered your sons are just thinner on a gluten free diet? Is my son just thin from being so hyper and has nothing to do w/the diet? I wasn't too concerned before the diet, but his ribs are sticking out now.

I want to add that I took my younger son (5yrs old) to a Dr.'s appt today and was quite surprised when the nurse mentioned that he looked thinner than most kids, even though he still hasn't lost all his baby fat. My husband and I are both concerned because 1) we have both boys on a gluten free diet 2)we have noticed him losing weight this past summer, but contributed it to him being more active 3) he's becoming as hyper as his older brother, but not quite sure if he's modeling his brother's behavior. Should we continue w/gluten free diet? Our traditional pediatrician does not believe anyone should be on a gluten free diet except those w/celiac disease. Our holistic pediatrician believes our kids will benefit from the diet. Asking the two Dr's won't help me, any advice? Thanks for your help!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

If you are asking the question you already know the answer. It doesn't sound like it is benefiting either child.

1 mom found this helpful

When my son was on the diet I gave him a lot of things like avocados and nuts. I also have some friends who added olive oil to things like smoothies, but I never did that. My son lost some weight too, which concerned me. It was one of the reasons I eventually took him off the diet. Good luck.

More Answers

I hope I don't sound mean but I feel very sorry for your children. There have been a proliferation of people who advocate food restrictions and I believe that 20 years down the road we'll look back on gluten-free as a fad. I know that you're trying to do a good thing but just let them eat a balanced diet.

3 moms found this helpful

So, your one child you describe as gaunt and the other is now being described by a health care provider as too thin? Children need fat and calories and well balanced diets. Honestly, your children really don't need to be on a gluten-free diet unless there is a medical reason to be on it. While a few doctors suggest gluten-free diets for ADHD like symptoms, this is still because of an intestinal absorption problem - it is not a cure all. Since things have gotten more dire since beginning this diet, please consider stopping it.

For you older son, having some specialists look at him and his history, such as a gastrointerologist or endocrinologist, is really important. Many things could explain his burning through calories. You haven't said what your traditional pediatrician says about his high metabolism. While I have respect for alternative medicine, recommendations for diet and other treatments should be based on research and I am betting money that the research on gluten-free diet effectiveness in children without celiac disease is scant. Just because there might be a lot on the internet does not mean it is supported by evidence. An example is blue-green algae, which was recommended by people about 15 years ago for ADHD. There were lots of advertisements on the web, but no clear scientific evidence and it has now faded away.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

Scary. Are you really keeping your kids on some fad diet that isn't prescribed for them even though they are exhibiting signs of not thriving? Do you also give them meds they don't need? PleAse see a nutritionist and let your kids eAt normal food.

2 moms found this helpful

I personally think, barring any food allergies or gastrointestinal disorders, that kids need a well rounded and varied diet. They need calories and nutrition while they are little and their bodies and brains are still "building". To me, it doesn't make any sense to have already super thin and energetic kids on a restricted diet. I was so skinny as a kid that everyone called me Olive Oyl. My mom was constantly trying to get weight on me.
My daughter decided to go on a gluten, egg, dairy and just about everything else free diet. She got so thin I was worried about her and she's super tiny as it is. The LAST thing she needed was to lose weight. She finally gave it up because she was starving. In fact, last night she came and got us and took us to dinner. She had a big garden burger and french fries.
I'm sure you'll get a lot of varied opinions, but since your kids are so thin, you might want to reconsider the extent to which you restrict their dietary intake.

I wish you well and hope you get some really good advice!

2 moms found this helpful

If you are asking the question you already know the answer. It doesn't sound like it is benefiting either child.

1 mom found this helpful

My 2yo dd has celiac disease. SHe was very underweight upon diagnosis and until recently she gained very poorly on the gf diet. Though I am quite sure her poor weight gain was because of malabsorbtion. We eat lots of brown rice and corn tortillas along with quinoa, buckwheat and other gluten free grains. We have found she needs supplemental fat although the rest of the family (on a gf diet) does not. We add peanut butter, olive oil, whole fat coconut milk and avocado in every way we can to her foods. We have alos found that we all eat a much more healthy and balanced diet if we plan out our meal and snacks. Our favorite gluten free blogs are http://glutenfreeeasily.com/, http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ and http://www.elanaspantry.com/. The last one uses mostly almond flour which would be higher calorie and more nutrient dense. Everyone has a different metabolism and different caloric needs. Our two year old eats about 1800 calories a day and weighs 22 pounds. Our 3 1/2 year old eats a little less and weighs 45 pounds. I would pay attention to the doctors if they are concerned about weight but you do not need to eat gluten to gain weight or to have a well balanced diet. I want to add that my 8 year old is 48 inches and weighs 52 pounds and the doctors have never been concerned about his size. These are the same doctors who are very aware of our 2 year olds underweight issues.

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Hi! I would lean towards your holistic pediatrician, especially after reading "Dangerous Grains: Why Gluten Cereal May be Hazardous to Your Health". Celiac is not a well-understood disease in the US, and there is such a thing as the Silent Celiac, not recognized by most medical doctors in the US. If your sons are hyper, they may have food sensitivities. You can get them tested with the ELISA pin-prick blood test (test for IgG) to identify the food sensitivities or just start by cutting out two of the most problematic ones: gluten and diary. My 3-year-old is sensitive to gluten, milk and egg. He was chubby but not gaining in height. After moving to the tropics he started developing high fevers every 2 to 3 weeks. But not anymore. On the restricted diet he doesn't fall sick, is catching up on height, and overcoming mild sensory integration issues. My son was the opposite of hyper - he was so sedentary he'd rather sit in the stroller all day long. With food sensitivity, you can't tell which way it's going to affect the child.

The other thing about children is that they need carbs to grow - well, they need it for everyday energy but if they don't have enough, the body will get it from some other sources, and that may be the reason why your sons are getting thinner. Try substituting with rice, potatoes and the like. Cutting out diary may actually help if it's what's causing them to be hyper.

If you're still not sure, try following your holistic pediatrician's advice to the letter for a couple of months to see the effect. There's probably a good reason why she recommends what she recommends. I'm a total convert to the theories on food sensitivities even though a lot of medical doctors have told me it's BS.

1 mom found this helpful

Every body is as different as every doctor's opinion. For some people, gluten free may be marvelous. But it doesn't sound like that's the case for your family. Sometimes I think people get way too carried away with trying to be more "healthy." I feel like this: my family has never been overly health conscious notwithstanding the fact that we have several nurses in the family. We all do fine - most have had excellent health all of their lives and we certainly have longevity (into our 90's). So, my advice, if everyone was doing fine with gluten in the diet, bring it back! P.S. I also am very thin. Your boys will come to know that it is just as irritating to have people talk about how thin you are as it is to have people say you're over weight. In fact, people don't hesitate to talk about how "skinny" someone is but they rarely will tell someone they think they're "fat." Why? It is just as rude and your boys will come to find that out if you don't do something to help them gain weight never mind that they don't have any to lose if they get sick and don't feel like eating for a day or two!

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