Gluten…another pandemic?

It’s one thing to struggle with health issues within your own body. But when it’s your child, well that’s a whole other set of emotions. 

We have had our little meat business for four years and in that time our daughter has struggled every day. While running our business, I have been blown away by the number of people coming to us in search of cleaner food options.

Why?

Why are so many people getting sick? Sick enough to make them search for food outside of their grocery store. Diseases such as leaky gut, chrones, colitis, celiac, auto-immune diseases, the list goes on. 

I mean yes, I’m sure everyone would love to eat straight off the farm. Who wouldn’t? But it’s not always possible, feasible, or convenient …until you get sick, or someone you love does, and then still, is it enough?

I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be the parent of a sick child. A farmer of my own food, an advocate for a whole foods diet. But it wasn’t enough. 

Our daughter has struggled with minor health issues. Enough to warrant a trip to the doctor, then the pediatrician. I would look upon her little body and feel this lingering gut-deep pull that my child was ill and something was not right.

But her symptoms weren’t severe and so we were brushed aside by the pediatrician in Edmonton and sent on our way with a simple over the counter medication.

Well let me tell you something right here and now. NEVER STOP ADVOCATING FOR YOUR CHILD.

The past week has been a fucking flurry of emotion. This spring I asked for a blood test, she hated it naturally, being five at the time and getting blood drawn. Bah. But it opened a new door and I knew the bigger picture had to stay in mind.

Our daughter Ellery tested positive for a gluten allergy, which is now confirmed to be a positive Celiac disease diagnosis. So what right? It’s just celiac disease. Well not really. It’s not just celiac disease, heck I don’t even know if I’m saying it right, celiac, celiacs, whatever.

The long term effects of this disease often lead to stomach cancer and other autoimmune diseases. And get this, one in one hundred people test positive for celiac disease. Mind-blowing right! I wonder how many people are walking around undiagnosed!!! No wonder there are so many of us searching for healthier alternatives.

So it’s not just celiac. This is a lifelong diagnosis that as some have said, is a healthier way of living so it will be good for us…. maybe, yes; but it’s all still a little nuts in that my daughter who just turned six a few weeks ago has major gut issues with no family history of gluten intolerance and raised on farm-fresh foods.

Her blood work gluten number was 67. High, but not crazy high. At that time, we asked for a new pediatrician at the Stollery, and once the blood test came back we got to have some actual conversations, rather than being brushed aside like the last pediatrician. 

This doctor said 90% of people who have a number of 70 or higher test positive for celiac disease. Leaving her undiagnosed and in the grey zone. Is she or isn’t she.

Last Thursday Ellery and I went to the Stollery in Edmonton where she underwent further testing, being put under anesthesia. The tears and sickening rush came as soon as her eyes closed. The test didn’t take long, 45 mins or so. But I was alone due to covid restrictions and it just really sucked. All in all, this is an issue that will affect my daughter for the rest of her life; so suck it up and get it done right.

Ellery woke up from the anesthesia quickly and hungry… wanting donuts of all things! The anesthetist came and spoke with me shortly after, and same with the doctor performing the gastroscopy. From the brief look under the microscope Ellery had severe tissue damage in her small intestine indicating a very high chance of confirmed celiac diagnosis. But we had to wait for the biopsy in the lab to 100% confirm.

Once she woke up, I took her for donuts and after that she has been on a strict GF diet. That evening I stripped our pantry clean of all items containing gluten. And went shopping for grocery’s the next day.

Now I’ve spent my fair share of time reading labels. I’ve always been one to want to know what’s in my food. It’s kind of my thing. So I filled my cart and swiped my credit card, cha Ching. (Insert hand over face emoji here). But our pantry is well stocked now, and I shouldn’t need to return for several weeks at least, apart from the odd fruit and veggie trip.

So far with packing lunches for school and dinners at home, eating GF for our whole family has been fairly easy. I have always been an advocate for a Whole Foods diet. Keep it simple, food straight from our farm meats and veggies from our garden.

Ellery’s biopsy from the lab came back as positive for celiac, an autoimmune disease. I am now waiting to hear from the Nutritionist at the Stollery to follow up. But I feel like I’ve got a decent start.

She’s on a probiotic now, loves kefir and kombucha, and I started some more traditional sauerkraut this week. We drink bone broth but do need to get it in daily which is posing a challenge at the moment with her being away at school, …night time I guess. Anything else? What else can I do to heal her gut?

I’ve restricted her diary apart from yogurt. My bread lady that supply’s my farm store is working on a gluten free sourdough bread for me, bless her heart.

I would like to work on getting some “pre”-biotics into her, any tips for kids?

Two or three years ago, I can’t remember, (darn kids and lack of sleep) I reached out to my farm fresh community here and was heartwarmingly met by others that deal with celiac disease. Life is a journey, this has been a huge curve physically, in our space, and emotionally. I am thankful now that we have an answer and can begin the healing process.

I wanted to share Ellery’s experience.  I partially feel guilty that I didn’t push harder for an answer sooner, especially because I felt it deep down, but always thought we ate pretty healthy. Ah hindsight.

So parents out there with little ones that seem off… trust your gut and ALWAYS keep advocating for your child.

Edited to add: 

I recently spoke with the nutritionist from the stollery. She covered celiac disease very well. She gave tips and tricks, and explained that even foods saying “may contain wheat” are not safe for celiacs.

But part of me wants more. Why isn’t there more information on the healing process? Yes, removing gluten from the diet is the most important component. But I know there is more I can do. 

Ellery has been completely GF now, and her body is taking to the healing process well. I am making my own ferments, supplementing with Vit. D & C, and we invested in a very high quality probiotic. 

It turns out, gluten is in almost everything that is processed. With the amount of brain fog and stress overload I hear so many of my friends, family members, and customers talk about, I can’t help but wonder if food is partially the cause. Could Gluten be a silent pandemic?

Please connect with me and share your health journey. Sharing helps, and it’s encouraging to know you can feel good!  As always, thank you for reading and connecting with us here.

Cheers & much love,

Jiilian (Ellery’s mama)