Please Do Not Judge My Toddler's Gluten-Free Diet

author with smiling daughter You may have seen my stories here and there. I chat about fibromyalgia, depression/anxiety, sensory processing issues and a whole host of other conditions that waltz back and forth through my day-to-day. I face a lot of issues as a parent that most people wouldn’t even dream of. As a mother of three, parenting can be challenging even at the best of times! Well as it turns out, I’m not the only one in the family facing a chronic invisible illness.

My youngest has always been fairly small. She was right at 6.5 pounds when she was born, and she started gaining normally, even got almost chubby there for a little while, relatively speaking. That changed when we started adding solid foods to her exclusively breast fed lifestyle. She stopped the steady growth. Her mood began rapidly changing. Having really no idea what to do, I started keeping an in/out diary, with daily entries of everything she ate (and what happened to it) in hopes of finding a pattern.

After months of this and only finding out that I’m terrible at record-keeping, I decided to take her in to the doctor. It’s suspected that she has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where gluten can damage the small intestine, but as of yet the tests have been inconclusive. We haven’t been able to exclude celiac but haven’t completed testing due to her age. The doctor recommended trying a gluten-free diet until she’s a little older and more in depth testing can be done with more clear results. So far, so good.

You’d think I’m a bad parent buying meal-replacement shakes for a toddler, but when the only things she’ll consume are strawberry milk and yogurt, you have to add nutrients somehow. So the 2-year old gets a shake for breakfast, sometimes another for lunch if she won’t eat the “real” food, and then she’s served a “sensible” dinner which is usually less sensible and more “highly caloric as possible.” With as many yogurt and string cheeses as she’ll snack on in between. Try giving her a PB&J and she’ll open it up and scrape off the peanut butter and lick it off her finger. It sure was worth $6 for the loaf of gluten-free bread!

I hope my daughter learns that being mighty is relative to each person’s own journey. I hope the rest of the world learns that most people who go to the trouble and expense to eat gluten-free aren’t doing it for grins and giggles. And if I can’t instantly make the world a less judgmental place for her, at the very least I can show her the best option is always to go out there and rock the world with her true self, anyway.

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