author of Feeding Eden

Gluten Minded

I'm a loyal Elle skimmer. In the March 2009 issue there is an article I could have, and would have, written myself except that might break my three year streak of unpaid occupation, and I wouldn't want that now would I?

The article Got Depression discusses the validity of a dairy-free / gluten-free regime for helping everything from autism to adult moodiness. Not only is my son's allergist, Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn, quoted in this article (what parent doesn't love that validation?) but I have had my own experience with the placebo effect of going gluten free diet. (FYI- It's been years since I ate dairy food because it gives me headaches.) 
Back when Eden was under the care of less, uh, capable allergist, and was a really miserable symptomatic baby, I took him to a nutritionist who diagnosed Gluten Intolerance!! Now, Eden's tests and my observations indicated that he was pretty much allergic to everything but gluten. Needless to say, she didn't help him a scrap but for a total of one week, I went gluten free with him in the spirit of commiseration. 
Understand that during that time I was frantic with worry and guilt over Eden's health and my genetically thin frame was gaunt with fatigue. So yes, I ate Quinoa Crunchies and soy milk instead of, uh...nothing, for breakfast and high protein lunches and dinners. Most importantly, I started paying attention to what I ate so I wouldn't unthinkingly swallow down a bagel and jelly minutes after the kid's bedtime and five minutes before mine.
I felt much much better that week. Less tired, more powerful. Until I saw that Eden was having allergic reactions most of the gluten free snacks (this was before the wonderful labeling laws that now specify when food is "cross-contaminated" with stuff like nuts and most of those specialty snacks were indeed not safe for him.) 
So what I like about this article is the point that a lack of hard research doesn't have to mean that 1) the wonderful autism moms I know are wrong about the curative impact on their children and 2) diets aren't worth it if they make you feel better. As for me, I could probably due with a few dietary improvements this time of year. But I'll continue to eat pasta and be nourished with the happy fact that Eden is now a much a healthier allergy kid.