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Should Everyone Be Gluten-free and Dairy-free?

Reader question: (note: this is a multi-part conversation)

Hi Elizabeth. I just wanted to say thank you so much for your time and wisdom last we talked. I really appreciate you and your consciousness around healing and food. 
I’m wondering if you could share information with me. I am in conversation with my son’s father about nutrition . He has up to this point honored my requests for my son to be gluten and dairy free and also my request around him eating organic food options. Now his dad is really beginning to resist this and we are meeting to have a conversation this Sunday.

I am seeking information about the benefits of eating gluten free, dairy free and organic. Do you have any resources you can share that I can use in my discussion? I would love to come to the conversation with good information. I have a good grasp and am reaching out to others who use good to heal to gain additional source support. Any articles you can share would be deeply appreciated.
Blessings ~Rachel T., Denver, CO

Hi Rachel! A new study out last week showed that organic foods could ward off cancer.

Actually I am not sure I believe that all people should be gluten-free and dairy-free (only those who are sensitive to them, and as long as they are organic sources) so can’t really give you much in terms of those. I do think that organic is the most important of the things you mention.

Thank you ! Can you tell me why you feel gluten and dairy are beneficial to those not sensitive ? 

I want to do what is best for him . 
He’s always eaten gf and dairy free because I am. We have never had any issues with digestion, spitting  up as a baby or rashes. He seems pretty balanced. Would it make sense to get him tested? 

Rachel, I am personally wheat-free and dairy-free (among other things) because my body can’t tolerate them, but my husband and kids eat wheat and dairy and I keep them in the house for them. If they had to abstain from everything I have to avoid eating, they would really hate me. They are exposed to a lot of alternatives to gluten and dairy, which they sometimes choose, but it is their choice.

While I use my influence as The Mom to provide organic foods, homemade meals, and fruits and vegetables, the only things I think everyone across the board should avoid are:

  • Additives, preservatives, and other chemicals in our food supply.
  • Artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, and scents.
  • Anything synthetic.
  • GMOs.
I feel so strongly about this that it was the topic of my TEDx talk titled, “Poisons in Our Everyday Foods.

Beyond that, it comes down to the individual as to what their body can tolerate. I’m not a fan in general of removing entire food groups willy-nilly. Most people do fine with organic wheat (70-90% of the population), and wheat has sustained human beings for more than 5,000 years. It’s difficult to go through life without eating wheat in our world, and just because something is “gluten-free” doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthier. Often gluten-free items have many more ingredients and are more heavily processed than their wheat counterparts. Homemade bread, for example, only has a few ingredients.

Same for dairy. If he tries it and has issues, then he should avoid it. But otherwise, organic dairy products aren’t necessarily “bad” for everyone. I don’t think kids need to be drinking milk, though whole milk is always preferable if they want to.
How old is he? Does he have any ailments or struggles, digestive or otherwise?
I usually only recommend testing for people who are trying to resolve symptoms. Healthy people can certainly do the test, too, but not 100% of the population needs to or even should.
As for getting the MRT food sensitivity testing for a healthy kid with no current physical issues? I would say it is not needed. I’d rather not test a child who isn’t suffering and put him on a restricted diet unnecessarily and possibly create an unhealthy attitude toward food or an eating disorder as a result.
If his normal state is healthy, then you can likely identify the culprit of any new negative symptom if it arises in him. Just remember that food sensitivity reactions are dose-dependent and can manifest as long as four days after exposure. Then do the detective work to remember what new he could have eaten within the time frame.
Of course, if at any time he or anyone else experiences anaphylaxis, call 911 and give him an appropriate-sized dose of Benedryl or use an Epi-Pen as directed.
I hope this is helpful! Best of luck!

3 Comments on “Should Everyone Be Gluten-free and Dairy-free?

  1. I have one more piece that may be useful information. While my son is thriving and I feel really good about being mindful and healthy with food choices, I do notice that he comes home from his fathers somewhat frequently with loose stool or some diarrhea. I notice his stool to be loose form time to time and I do wonder if there is something else that needs to come to balance as far as our choices. I do not want to go super restrictive and I woudl also love to help him find as much balance as possible.

    Thanks again 🙂

  2. Hi Elizabeth.

    I do agree completely in organic foods and I am trying really hard to get his father to also make those choices for him. It feels so important to my heart and to the planet and our health. I totally agree.

    I have many other foods that I personally do not eat, but that my son eats. These came through my own sensitivity tests and have really helped me heal at a deeper level. He is 4 and has been GF and DF since birth. He did so amazingly well on breast milk with my diet and I felt very called to keep him GF and DF as he grew. He never burped up. Had rashes or anything of the sort. I also feel that when he was smaller our bodies were very intertwined. I am a mother who still breastfeeds in the morning and at night. I can feel him really stepping into his own being and as this happens I want to be sure to listen to his body and what his needs are. When he was younger though it just felt right in all of my being to keep him GF and DF. I can see your point about being mindful of cutting out whole food categories. I will feel into that more deeply and consider what will best suit him. If gluten or dairy can nurture his body, I am open to him having organic high quality sources but he is so healthy now, I am not sure we really need to change what we are doing. He is thriving so I feel that my decisions so far have really served him and his growth. I do a lot of mediation and asking for guidance of my inner knowing and source. I will bring this in for consideration. But for now I feel what I have been doing is working well. Is there anything you can share that woudl alarm me that these decisions are not serving at this time?

    I pay very close attention to ingredients. I am very thoughtful and also realize that a lot of GF stuff is actually crap and I do not eat that or bring it into the house. Reading ingredients is so important. We actually are taking our relationship to food one step further. We began growing our own food this year also. It’s such a beautiful shift to be connecting with the land more deeply and really knowing where our foods comes from. Allowing my son to dig and harvest food. We need more than what our garden grew, so we go to the local farmers market for our vegetables and fruit . Eating not only organic , but also local feels so nutritious and I can feel it deeply in my body and the way I feel. We are are making friends with farmers and ranchers and really getting to know our food at very intimate levels. We are visiting farms to see where the animals live. My son gets to actually pick the duck eggs we eat. We are really creating a connection to Mother Nature and our bodies. We are also creating community around the market and eating healthy. We even started a little local farmers market in our neighborhood where people can being what they grow. My son got to be the farmer and we got to share our veggies with our neighbors. I feel really good about the influence from these decisions.

    The hard part here is that his father makes very different personal food choices for himself. Not just gluten or dairy but mostly GMO and non organic. With his older son I witnessed him choosing hydrogenated cinnamon rolls from king snoopers every morning for breakfast. I witnessed sugary cereal, laffy taffy and McDonald’s. These are things that I do not even consider food. I am really fighting for quality here too. If we were to begin to introduce gluten or dairy, I would need it to be only organic and good quality in a manner that is safe and transparent so we can really pay attention, rather than a gateway for more bad choices. I will say that my intuition is saying no to that introduction at this time. I have fought very hard to hold this for my son and it feels so important. I have used food to heal and I know what it can do. I want to use this knowledge to pass to my child so that he can really eat for his body . I am open to seeing what his body tells us though.

    That’s where testing comes in for me. I also reached out to our family Chinese medicine doctor and after considering his view, I feel it could be a great idea to get a look at my sons body and just see what that shows us. I would do a finger prick test and stool sample for a basic look. In my Chinese medicine doctors opinion, many food sensitivities are passed down and it could be likely for a child to have the same sensitivities as the mother or father. He has been our family doctor since 2012 and has helped me balance from my own autoimmune healing. He is actually who brought the awareness around food sensitivities to my life and I trust his 30 years of experience for sure. You and I started working together a few years later when I needed a bit more tweaking than gluten and dairy and thank you for your help too!

    As I incorporate my Chinese Medicine Doctors view point deeper into consideration , I am drawn to looking at my family history. Both of my grandmothers had IBS and chronic digestive problems. My mother has had her share of symptoms relating to sensitivities as well. My sons fathers family has extreme obesity and this is another factor I am considering while I considering my sons relationship to food.

    So in looking at our whole picture, I feel that the information a test provides could be really beneficial in making good and healthy food choices. I do have a very different view than you on this topic though. Rather than a recipie for an unhealthy relationship with food, I see it as an opportunity to share wisdom and knowledge about making healthy choices and listening to our bodies. I see it as a gift of my own healing process and look forward to helping my son listen to his body and make good choices that will nurture and keep his health balanced. I feel it will be a great conversation to continue and light the path for a well balanced life.

    Thank you for your work Elizabeth. I appreciate your time and knowledge and your help in my healing process. I hope my perspective helps others as they make decisions for their families.

    1. Rachel, I respect and admire your thoughtfulness and mindfulness about feeding your son. I think you should follow your gut and do what you feel is right for the two of you. I’m happy to be of help at any point.
      All the best,

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