How to Start a Gluten Free Diet

Updated on March 30, 2013
K.C. asks from Missouri City, TX
10 answers

Hi - My poor son (6 years old - going on 7) has bee having digestive "issues" since he was about 2. For a while I had him going to a Pediatric Gastro to find out why he suddenly went from producing stools normally to being completely constipated and in extreme discomfort. All they did was to put him on first that was supposed to be a 6 month treatment....then 1 year....3 Years later we got him completely off of it and worked hard at getting him a better diet with increased fiber, ect. Things seemed good. For a few months now he has almost the opposite symtoms. His stomach hurts him on a regular basis. It wakes him up at night multiple times. I feel like he spends half of his day in the restroom - either using it or trying to. SO......I'm wondering if perhaps this might be a gluten intolerance. I have read enough to know that I need to have him tested BEFORE I make any changes to his diet. I will make that appointment right away. In the meantime I would like to gather as much information as I can about Gluten intolerance (sensitivity) and gluten free diets. Any information you could give would be appreciated. Thanks!

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answers from New York on

Google Celiac disease
Read Wheat Belly
Read Dr. Green's book about Celiac Disease (google Dr. Green and Celiac to find the book)
Read Elisabeth Hasselberg's book about Celiac disease

Celiac disease is not a gluten sensitivity - it is an autoimmune disease that cause an inflammatory reaction when gluten is ingested. That needs to be ruled out before calling it a gluten sensitivity. Either way reading about celiac will help even if it is just sensitivity.

Living without is a good magazine as well as Gluten free Living

Good Luck

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answers from Chicago on

If your son is hurting, I would take it out of his diet immediately. If that is the culprit, who needs a damn test to prove it. What is the test going to say that would make a difference?

We took my son off of gluten. He would tell me all the time that his tummy hurts. Once I took him off.. we went 4 days with no direct gluten, then it was thanksgiving. Those wonderful cresent rolls, too tempting and I had my back turned for 30 seconds. He had 1 1/2 on his plate (yep he at 1/2 before I could even say NO). I let it go, because our reason for doing this was to help him control his behaviros. 2 hrs later his stomach hurt. 5 months later, I have not bothered with testing becuase I don't care what the test says, I just keep him gluten free.

This site here can help once you embark..

Good luck and I hope he gets the relieve he deserves.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Have you checked him for Celiac disease? My son has gone through a lot of abdominal pain and digestive issues since he was maybe 4. Now he's 14 and he's on a strict gluten free diet. Thank God he's not experiencing the pain he used to have as a little boy. The problem with celiac people is that they have to be on a gluten free diet for a life time. There's no medication involved, it's just the diet. Their intestines cannot absorb the wheat and the gluten found in most of our food. And if it goes unnoticed, it will affect their growth in the long run. We got used to the gluten free diet. Thankfully there are a lot of foods out there that are gluten free. It's not as bad as it sounds! Good luck, I hope your little one feels better.



answers from Houston on

Before you have him tested, don't just keep his diet as is, up his gluten intake. Give him at least one slice of bread every day for two weeks or more. That will ensure that it's in his system good.

For intestinal pain relief, I drink a little aloe vera juice. It takes immediate effect.

Regarding the diet, it really can be quite simple depending on how you view food. Keep your foods as simple as possible--no laundry list of ingredients and little to no processing. Sauces have to be picked apart. If he eats oatmeal, get gluten free. The test results and how bad he feels will help determine how strict his diet needs to be. (A positive result has more medical implications than not.)In the beginning, make it very strict for at least one month. Then, incorporate maybe one item every other week or so, no more often than that and maybe not even that often. It should not be a regular part of the diet. I have found that regular crust on pizza brings almost immediate discomfort, but thin crust gives me none. Same with cake or wheat bread versus a croissant. Now, I can't tell you the damage that it may be doing internally, but it doesn't hurt.



answers from Chicago on

Good thinking to have him tested before changes to his diet. For school purposes and making sure they can accomodate him he would need an actual diagnosis so they don't penalize him for not doing certain things - play doh (made with wheat flour), cooking demo days etc. If he does not have a medical diagnosis they would not give him an IHCP or 504 plan. Good luck! Hope it works out for you!


answers from Rochester on

It is important, if you want the the testing done for Celiac disease, not only to keep gluten in his diet but ensure he is eating plenty of it...a few pieces of bread a day, for example.

My toddler has Celiac disease. Her symptoms were on the more radical side...constant, bulky, fatty stool throughout the day (talking twenty diapers a day), bouts of pain that would last 3-4 hours and have her literally screaming and rolling on the floor, inconsolable, and dermatitis herpatiformis, so bad that it looked like her skin was rotting. From ages 7-11 months, she did not grow...not one ounce, not one centimeter. She also did not smile, did not laugh, did not play...she just screamed. Cried. Thrashed.

We had to push and push for the testing, but her ped. wanted to test for about 50 other things I just took her off gluten. It was like a miracle change in my baby...within two days, I saw her smile, I heard her laugh, and could hold her without having my eardrums busted.

They agreed to test her after that, but I absolutely could not get her to eat anything with gluten at that point. I tried it all...cookies, cake, everything...and she just wouldn't eat it. It's like she understood. Her test results, when tested several weeks after being gluten free, were STILL she has a clinical diagnosis of CD. I refused to have a biopsy done because I have my answer and will not put her through that just for confirmation...I have all the confirmation I need, and several doctors agreed.

As far as the diet goes, it can be as simple as concentrating on whole foods...fresh meat, dairy, fruits, veggies, rice. If you want replacement products, such as bread, pasta, waffles, cookies, cake, etc, you have the option of buying GF or making your own. I have my favorite can ask again when and if you go GF and I'd be happy to share what I love and hate with you.

As we have gone along over the last two years, I have virtually changed almost everything about the way I feed my family. I make everything from scratch, I know where my food comes from and what it's made from, we buy almost no processed food...and we ALL feel better.

Because I nursed her until she was almost three (just weaned a few weeks ago), I was GF as well. I was so excited that I could now eat some "real" bread, pizza, etc, and I dove right in...and immediately began getting the same debilitating migraines that miraculously "disappeared" while I was nursing her. So I suspect that I have a sensitivity, and have given up on having gluten (maybe on rare occasions...) because after over 2 years, I no longer miss it and don't want the headaches.

If you can't get him an appointment right away, I agree with others that have suggested to just remove it from his diet and see if YOU see an improvement. You'll see it VERY quickly if he has CD, but it may take a bit longer if it's just a sensitivity.

Read up what you can...there are a lot of books suggested below that will be very helpful. It's important to learn about contamination, cross-contamination, and hidden sources of gluten. You need to learn about US regulations regarding food labelling and the difference for imported foods (which may say "gluten free" on the front and "contains wheat" on the back...). You need to get used to calling companies to inquire about the GF status of foods if you aren't sure. It's a process, and expect that you will occasionally mess up. We all did while we were learning, I can guarantee you, but you will get it all figured out.

If you'd like any more help or have more specific questions, please feel free to pm me. Good luck!



answers from Madison on

Here are some excellent books on my shelf having to do with gluten and the gluten-free diet/life:

Gluten-free girl by Shauna James Ahern

Celiac Disease: A Guide to LIving with Gluten Intolerance by Slyvia Llewelyn Bower

Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic by Peter H.R. Green, MD

A Patient-Expert Walks You Through Everything You Need to Learn and Do The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed by Jules E. Dowler Shephard

The Gluten Connection: How Gluten Sensitivity May Be Sabotaging Your Health--And What You Can Do to Take Control Now by Shari Lieberman

Recognizing Celiac Disease: Signs, Symptoms, Associated Disorders & Complications by Cleo J. Libonati

All of these books were excellent. I highly recommend them to everyone.

Another book I am going to be adding to my bookshelf is Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD, which talks about what the current wheat is like that we consume and why it's making us sick. It's gotten excellent reviews.



answers from Houston on

My little girl is gluten free and the best thing to do is stop gluten cold turkey and be gluten free for 2 months and see what happens. You can even give him a tiny bit. It is all or nothing with a gluten issue. Hope he is able to find some relief. The best listen free flower is pamala's.


answers from St. Louis on

I am still boggled as to why people believe we NEED wheat or gluten in our diet. You should read "wheat belly" and the plethora of other books and articles addressing wheat and its unhealthiness and unecessary addition to the American diet.

I would eliminate the wheat/gluten from his diet immediately. Fearing he may lose the fiber? Add a few dates and some other high fiber items to his diet. Easy fix!

Also, please understand that his test can come back negative for celiac and he STILL have an intollerance to wheat or gluten. That is what happened to me, and eliminating wheat/gluten was the best decision I have ever made. The stuff messes us up! Read about it and help your little guy!!Talk to your doc and see if he or she can recommend a nutritionist to help you. Good luck! I know his pain!


answers from Los Angeles on

Yes, glad you know he needs to still be eating it until he's tested. It may be intolerance (Celiac disease) or sensitivity, if either is found ask for a referral to a nutritionist who will assist you in formulating a meal plan based on what he can eat.

There's a tremendous amount of information on the internet on gluten-caused symptoms, diets and recipes. Here's some: - Celiac support group for parents and kids, all kinds of informational help. - Search results for "gluten-free kids recipes."

Hope he feels better soon!

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