Butterfly grew up with food intolerances and was diagnosed with ADHD, Asperger's
Syndrome, and learning difficulties. Now she struggles with OCDs.
This is the story of how we have faced these challenges.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wheat Intolerance

When I first started Butterfly on strained foods, it became increasingly clear that something was bothering her. I could sometimes hear her stomach from across a room, she was in obvious discomfort and she just didn't sleep. There were a few nights when I put her on top of me, stomach to stomach, so I was sort of a human hot water bottle. I tucked the bedspread under the mattress so I wouldn't lose track of her if I drifted off. And in my exhaustion, once she settled down, I did indeed catch some winks. But apparently I never moved and we woke up in the same position we went to sleep. A mother's instinct?

After much trial and error, I figured out that she couldn't tolerate wheat. I removed it from her diet. The difference was remarkable. Rice pablum had been ok, but clearly I had to make her other foods myself because so many of the strained foods had wheat in them. I started with mashed banana and scrambled eggs made with formula instead of cows' milk. Then I got a blender. Thank goodness for blenders. I started making our meals around what was a good idea for Butterfly. Mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, and bits of chicken pureed nicely. Pureed foods often look awful, but they tasted great and Butterfly did much, much better. A popsicle, pickle, or bowl of ice cream made great treats ~ not all at once of course. And since many of the fruit baby foods were thickened with tapioca, I was able to still use those as well.

Once I got used to what had to be done, it would have gone quite smoothly except for the booby traps. Whenever we visited others, someone would almost inevitably try to hand Butterfly a bun or a cookie. And see if they had any grasp when I stopped them and explained that Butterfly couldn't have those. Some even behaved as if I was depriving my child to be mean. And of course, Butterfly didn't understand why she couldn't have that thing someone had held out to her, she was a baby afterall. I had never realized before how difficult it can be to educate people. Even a simple bit of information such as, the baby can't have wheat, sometimes just doesn't compute. They think mom is just being over-protective or terribly mean to her child. But here's a rule of thumb to go by, people: always ask Mom first, before offering a treat to a baby, toddler or little kid. If Mom says no, she has a reason. There is no "what ifs" or "but it's good for her." When it isn't, it just isn't. We know you mean well, but it's simple: if the kid can't have something, the kid can't have it.

Even as some people struggled with the concept, there were increasing incidence of intolerance in Butterfly's generation as she grew up. There are even more now, with adults becoming gluten-intolerant in ever greater numbers. Our white bread world is rearing up and biting us. Kids like Butterfly were like canaries in a mine shaft. Who was heeding the warning?

Finding alternatives for wheat wasn't as easy back then as now. Some of the available options were pretty awful, especially to put in front of a child. But for Butterfly's first birthday I wanted to bake her a cake. I found white rice flour. It wasn't that hard to find, but information on how to bake with it was. So I just made a cake with it. You could have used that thing for a doorstop. We took her picture with it, then gave her back her pickle, which is all she really wanted anyway. If ya got a pickle, who needs a silly cake anyway?


  1. LOVE the photos. She couldn't tolerate tapioca either? :( Sigh. What a job you had!

  2. No, no..she could tolerate tapioca. Thought I'd made a typo, but perhaps I should re-word that to make it clearer. We could use most fruit baby foods, just not the dinners. :)