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Why do I give my son gluten?

Why do I give my son gluten?


This is a picture of our youngest son. He just turned 6. As a family we took him to The Spaghetti Factory. We have spent many special times here. It was a special occasion so I let him order whatever he wanted…this time it was grilled cheese.  And, the bread on the table…fair game. After all, its his birthday, right?

The next day…his actual 6th Birthday. I was trying to have a low key party…so I invited a small group of friends over, planned some simple games, hung balloons in the trees, bought a piñata, and bought Costco Pizza and Costso cake…both full of gluten, among many other ingredients we don’t normally eat.  And, little bottles of Gatorade.

He was thrilled!  Friends! Cake! Pizza! He had a great time!  I asked him later what his favorite part…he said, the little bottles of Gatorade. Yes…you read that right.  It wasn’t the cake.  It wasn’t the pizza.  It wasn’t even the games or the decorations. There was no gluten in the Gatorade.  I thought the other things…the cake, the pizza…would be his favorite. Did I buy those for him or because that is what I thought would be important?

I guess I should back up and say that, with the help of our doctor, we have discovered that gluten effects our son.  I won’t go into details out of love and respect for him, but I will say that it not only is hard on his digestion, it is also extremely hard his emotions. I have watched its effects in both areas, and it is very real.   It has measurable effects and they are painful.

So, back to my question, why do I sometimes give my son gluten?  I know it isn’t good for him.  I know he suffers for days from eating it, sometimes over a week. It is hard on all of us. 

And, yet, in the name of a treat, or a convenience, or not wanting my son feel bad in the moment, I allow him to eat gluten. Sometimes I even buy it for him knowing it will bring him momentary happiness. I can’t figure myself out here. I am so careful to keep him safe, and do all I can to bless him (and my family!) in this life and yet, I give him or allow him to eat a “treat” that will harm him.

As I write I realize one reason is that I like to see him happy. I like to see him excited. I enjoy seeing him have something he enjoys…but this is shortsighted when it will only bring joy for a moment. And, I can give him other things that would bring him joy…a Popsicle, pineapple, amazing gluten free desserts (which take time!), occasional ice cream or frozen yogurt. There are SO many other options…why is it so hard to just say no? I am forgetting that this is the way God made him and it is for his good and God’s glory…yes, even saying no to a particular food can be used as part of shaping him into who God has for him to be.

I am also realizing as I write that I don’t want him to be different. I don’t want him to have to be the child in his kindergarten class who has to say he can’t have gluten. I don’t want him to miss out on the cupcake or the cookies they baked in class. I don’t want him to have less than his friends and miss the experience. I don’t want him to be sad about it. And, while these are good motivations, I am forgetting again. Disappointments in life will come. We will feel left out at times. We won’t be able to have everything that everyone else has all the time. Is it so bad that he learn that now? He has so many sweet blessings from God, isn’t it best to be thankful and learn to overlook what we don’t have?

We are so emotionally attached to food. Food represents celebrations, it represents so many memories of loved ones and holidays, and cozy family meals. It becomes so much more than what God has given to us to sustain us. And, in most ways, that is ok and a gift from God. He has given us taste buds and a sense of smell…and through these gifts, we remember times and people. But, it seems my emotional attachment is trumping my logic when it comes to what foods are best for my son in the area of gluten.

I will say, 90 percent of the time it is no trouble. We eat mostly all fresh, non-processed, home cooked food. I shop at local farm stands, buy our meat from friends who raise it, even grow a garden in the summer. Sauces and salad dressings are from scratch and desserts baked using alternative flour and natural sugars like maple syrup and raw honey. I am not failing in the food game and I know that. We are doing well.

But, I write today to help me think through these episodes…especially with the holidays coming up. How will I help my son…not just experience the taste of the moment, but feel good and not be sad or angry as a effect of the gluten.

It really all starts with my attitude. Am I thankful? Am I trusting the Lord with this limitation? Am I comfortable with missing out myself? Can I teach him that it is more important to enjoy the moment and the cookie or cupcake isn’t that important? Can I continue to teach myself that? Am I convinced that God will use this in his life to grow him to be who He wants him to be?

I also realize as I am writing this all down that I don’t like to be judged. Gluten is such a misunderstood allergy and people have such strong feelings about it one way or another. And, I don’t want to be judged as overreacting to a trend or lacking discernment or whatever someone might be thinking. I want to be seen as balanced…not over doing it, wise. And, I know by taking a strong stance and saying “no” 100% of the time in the area of gluten, people will disagree with me. Some will feel I am off my rocker and I’m not good with that. Hmmmm…writing really helps me process. This needs to change. I need to do what is right for my son with no concern to what others think about me. How does this boil down to me and my insecurities…ouch!

I am also going to come up with some old faithful recipes that I can use when these situations arise and I can send a stand in dessert to class with him. So, look for those…I’ll post them here. I need one or two cookie recipes and one or two cake recipes that are easy for me…that I have baked multiple times and I can make at a moments notice so it doesn’t feel burdensome. Feel free to leave some links in the comments to help me out!

Thank you for reading my therapy session for myself..haha! I hope it is somehow encouraging to you in whatever situation you find yourself in today. May God give you to the grace to do what is right even when it is inconvenient or unpopular or you have to say no to someone you love.


3 Responses

  1. Carolyn says:

    I really appreciate this post. Being on the “other side” of this issue (I am gluten-free), it was good to read your perspectives. Something I struggle with is people who fuss over my gluten-avoidance. ‘We can’t go there; Carolyn can’t eat’ for example. Yet, I’ve only found one place I l was unable to find something to eat. Being gluten-free has enriched my life in many ways because I’ve expanded into many other ways to spend time and energy on people. And I’ve brought gluten-free/dairy-free items to social gatherings that bless others. And it also is a way that God continues to expose my grumbling spirit mainly around the extra time to fix anything.
    I want to mention that many gf recipes/products depend on gar gum or starches that we are also sensitive to. Just something to be aware of as you go down this path.

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much for your reply! Our neighbor just asked us to come to dinner…it’s the first time I answered the “do you have allergies” question with a “yes!”. It is definitely hard to have others fuss over it…there really are so many options. I enjoy the Against All Grain Cookbook. They have been so helpful on the journey this far. What a blessing that you have turned your gluten free lifestyle into a way to serve others! ❤️

  2. Maureen says:

    Thank you for sharing the struggle you experience between doing what is best for your son and not wanting him to be “different” and suffer for not being able to eat what his friends do. I can see how writing it out would be helpful for you. Hopefully it allowed you to gain some clarity.

    Having a son with food intolerances that affected him both emotionally and physically, I can totally empathize. My son was older when we discovered the underlying causes and so he was the one struggling to choose NOT to eat what caused him and us. That was many years ago when there wasn’t a lot of knowledge about food intolerances. Today, there is much more knowledge and understanding in the public eye, which should be encouraging to you. It is more common and acceptable now

    You have the opportunity at his young age to help him to understand the uncomfortable consequences of eating gluten and to help his to learn to say “no” for himself. He will then develop the mechanisms to make wise choices and if he does choose to “cheat”, it will be with the full knowledge of the consequences.

    In our situation, he was able to eat sprouted wheat products (more digestible) and some ancient grains (spelt, kamut) which worked well when there was a pasta dish, mexican dish needing tortillas or even dessert.

    May you become comfortable with “your part” of this process of supporting better physical and emotional health for your guy!


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