Gluten What?

Wow.  How to dive into a topic like this one.

Some of you, or maybe many of you, know that we have taken Ronan wheat/gluten and dairy free.

TONS of you ask “Why?”

That’s a hard question to give a definitive answer to.

Ronan is a smart, sweet boy.  He is loving, and energetic and enthusiastic.  But sometimes, he’s terribly terrible.  He hits, and pushes and throws.  He will look you straight in the eye in the midst of doing something he KNOWS he shouldn’t, and then toss you a “What’re you gonna do about it?” look.  It’s easy to chalk this stuff up to normal ‘terrible twos’… but it’s even easier to question if this is how things should be.

So instead of assuming that this was ‘normal’ for our child, we challenged it.

My sweet friend Stephany told me about gluten free, and the effect it can have on behavior and development.  She described examples for me, and the success other parents have had.  Because we were already facing therapy for Ronan and his speech delay, we decided that it might not be a bad idea to take him gluten and casein free – to give him the best chance of succeeding in all of our endeavors.

What does gluten have to do with it, you ask?

I honestly don’t really know.  It was kind of a leap of faith.  Something to do with intolerance, and overloading the gut, and lactic acid?  If you google “Can gluten affect my child’s behavior?” you will get THOUSANDS of hits saying exactly that.  I’m sure there is a ton of science out there.  I’m sure there are testimonials.  The only one I need is mine.

Ronan has been gluten free for several weeks.  We went dairy free too, as many intolerances go hand in hand.  We nearly imperceptibly noticed that Ronan became quieter, calmer, more patient.  His yelling and screeching stopped.  He began asking politely for things, unprompted.  His speech and vocabulary has improved by light-years.  His independent play has become less about crashing and throwing, more about movement and learning.  He likes to sit and look at books, instead of tearing them.  He likes to SIT.  We enjoyed the ‘new’ Ronan without making a big deal about it, but continued to stay GFCF.

And then…

Then, on Sunday, we went to a birthday party.  And this momma didn’t plan ahead – birthday cakes have gluten.  AND dairy.  And I didn’t bring an acceptable alternative.  We couldn’t tell him no.

So he had cake.

I wish I could accurately describe to you the transformation we saw in our boy.  It was IMMEDIATE.  It wasn’t a sugar high, and it wasn’t excitement.  It was like a full on caffeine, crack, whacked out demon had taken him over.  For three days now, Ronan has been a screeching, yelling, hitting, tantrum throwing angry little person.  The contrast is impossible to ignore.  The farther out we get from cake day, the better, more level he becomes.

So we will remain gluten and dairy free for an indefinite amount of time.

And I can’t wait to get my quiet, sweet, patient little boy back.

  • Rosie

    Wow! That is quite the testimonial. I have heard that changes in diet can affect behaviour, but I always thought it was more about preservatives, dyes, highly processed foods, refined sugar, etc. I think I have a new suggestion for the parents of my students who have very hyperactive children and are very much against the idea of traditional Western medication. Very interesting! Thank you for sharing :)

    • Mandy

      You are welcome! I hope someone else gets such a good result from it as we have. We tend to stay away from dyes, processed foods, HCFS as well. Don’t hurt to be careful about what you put into your body!

  • Janus

    Have you and/or Brock talked to Ronan’s doctor about this? And has the doctor been able to give you any help in this area?
    Janus´s last blog post ..FoodQuest- Culvers

  • Whitney

    Hey, remember me? We used to do Naptime Momtog’s Project 365. Anyways, gluten-free is a LOT like Paleo or Primal.

    Check out and check out She also wrote a book by the same name and there’s a section in there about behavior differences when you get rid of not only gluten but grains. It’s amazing!
    Whitney´s last blog post ..We’re on a temporary hiatus